November 17, 2013

Oscar's Alehouse

Oscar's Ale House
1438 Liberty Road
Eldersburg, MD 21784
(410) 795-7001

My wife and I just celebrated our 23 date-iversary.  Meaning - we started dating 23 years ago.  We always celebrate this seemingly odd day, but it is special in our life.  I asked my wife if she wanted to go on a date, maybe go to dinner.  She agreed. I threw out some suggestions - Baldwin Station, Johannson's, The Grille At Harryman House.  She chose Oscar's Alehouse.

Oscar's opened probably a year ago.  I heard the opening was an absolute disaster.  Not sure if what I heard is true, but I heard that the kitchen staff walked out on opening night. Oscar's is the successor to Cobblestone, Meiklejohn's, and The Chop House.  Did I miss any?

I made reservations for 2 at 6pm.  This place is always crowded on Fridays.  You can how crowded they are by the number of cars that are illegally parked in the fire lane.  If Carroll County and Maryland State Police were smart, they'd swing by every Friday evening and handout about 2 dozen parking tickets every hour.  Imagine the revenue that would add up over time.

My wife and I were fortunate enough to get a seat right by the front window.  The seat and the table are awkwardly spaced.  Not sure if there is 3 feet from the back of the chair to the table so that fat people can sit there, or if it is just the way they had to divide the space evenly.  I had to sit at the edge of my seat to reach the table.  Really weird.

Our waitress was prompt and courteous, as was the staff that delivered our meals.  I wasn't sure if my wife wanted a drink or not, so we ordered a round of waters first.  We're not like most couples who both drink and get lit at dinner, then drive home drunk.

My wife finally decided she didn't want a drink, so with my dinner order I ordered a Victory Golden Monkey, which is a Belgian-style ale from Pennsylvania.  It was really good.  If anything, Oscar's Alehouse has a nice selection of beers.  They have varieties of beer from Dogfish Head, Brooklyn Brewery, Rogue, Heavy Seas, and Harpoon.  And if you don't like beer, they also have Budweiser and Miller Light.

We ordered appetizers, if you classify soups as appetizers.  I got a bowl of French Onion soup.  Instead of having melted cheese over top, there was a slice of cheese on top of a slice of bread.  The cheese was nearly melted, but it seemed like a lame attempt to make French Onion soup.  My wife ordered the Maryland Cream of Crab soup.  It was orange.  She said it tasted like cheese, by the menu said it was prepared with Sherry, so I suspect the Sherry is the cause of the orange color.  She was not impressed with the soup.

For dinner I ordered the Oscar's Creole Pasta.  Instead of pasta, I got it with wild rice.  It was served with blackened chicken, which is fancy food talk for burnt chicken, shrimp, and Andouille sausage, peppers, onions, and a spicy cream sauce.  When they say spicy, they're not kidding.  I LOVE spicy food.  I drop hot sauce on everything.  I could not eat this dish.  It was so freakin' spicy that I drained my glass of water and my entire beer putting out the flames from a quarter of the dish.  The taste?  Not sure.  The main flavor of the dish was fire.

My wife ordered the Wood Grilled Shrimp and Bacon club.  Her only response was that it was, "eh...".  When we finished, she confidently stated, "We're not coming back here again."

I could give this restaurant a second chance, but it may be a while.  They have half priced burgers on Mondays and was told that the burgers are actually pretty good.  I may go there with some friends and drink some beer. But I doubt I'll be taking my wife back there again.  She was too disappointed to want to go back.

Overall, Oscar's looks very nice.  It has a nice ambiance.  The staff are dressed neatly, though not professionally, and they were polite, friendly, quick, and responsive. Oscar's seems like a great place to hang out.  That is, unless you want to order dinner and actually like food that tastes good.  I'll admit that I spoke to someone that says that the Friday food always seems to be worse than food served on any other day.  Perhaps the kitchen staff is in such a rush on Fridays because of the crowd that they prepare food with the intention of getting it done fast rather than getting it done well.

It's hard for me to recommend this place.  Have you been there before?  If so, what do you think?

October 18, 2013

Pizza Town

Pizza Town
9217 Lakeside Blvd 
Owings Mills, MD 21117 


Owings Mills sports many presumably family-owned restaurants.  I'm not if Pizza Town is family-owned, but it seems like it.  And I'm not even sure if the strip mall where it is located has a name, but it's on Lake Side Boulevard near the Food Lion.

Pizza Town seems to be run by Russians, or some Eastern European people, which is fine.  I'm just merely pointing it out.  I find it a interesting that Eastern Europeans are running a restaurant that specializes in Italian food.

So what did I get on my recent trip?  Greek food!  I got the Gyro, fries, and a soda for $7.99.  I'm a sucker for a value meal.  They offer this lunch deal with a handful of different sandwiches, and a choice of fries or onion rings.

I've also had their pizza.  It's decent.  I wouldn't make a special trip there to get their pizza, but it's definitely a nice place to get a quick meal in Owings Mills.

As you can see, the gyro is jam-packed with with onions, some lettuce, tomatoes, and the gyro sauce, as it should.  It tasted good.  I would have liked more lamb, but then again, it was a $7.99 deal, so I shouldn't expect a lamb fatty, right?

So if you're in Owings Mills and you're looking for a slice of pizza, a sub, or a gryo, check out Pizza Town.  It's good cheap eats.

July 3, 2013

Papa Joe's

Papa Joe's 
27 East Main Street Rear 1
Westminster, MD 21157-5039
(410) 871-2505

Papa Joe's Authentic Mexican Restaurant is located on the backside of one of main blocks in downtown Westminster near the intersection of Main Street and Railroad Avenue, Route 27.  The first time I went there we walked around the block aimlessly trying to find it when I finally asked someone in the Chamber of Commerce building where it was.  The nice lady walked us through the building to the back alley right to the restaurant.  However, you can access it from the rear in in the parking lot.

There are about 6 tables outside and maybe 15 tables (maybe) inside, so the place is small.

Tonight was the third time we ate at Papa Joe's.  This was, unfortunately, one of the more memorable dining experiences there.  When we arrived the hostess informed us that there was a 25 minute wait.  Since it was the day before the 4th of July, American Independence Day, it felt like a Friday and I was sure that no matter where we went there would be a long wait.

We were seated right around 25 minutes and seated outside on the patio.  After scanning the menu and deciding what we wanted, we small-talked and waited for our server to come take our drinks.  Then we waited some more.  Then I watched one table clear and another couple get seated.  Then another.  Then another.  Then the first table got their drinks.  Then their order was taken.  Then the next table,  And then the next table.  I was really starting to get irritated.  I unsuccessfully kept trying to make eye contact with the various servers outside.  After nearly 15 minutes, my wife got up from the table and went to a server and demanded that we be served.

A few minutes later a server finally came to our table and apologized for the delay, but said she just got assigned to our table and was not aware that we had been waiting so long.  Whatever.  She asked to take our drink order and we demandingly told her that we were ready to give her our order.  She apologized vociferously.

A short time later another server came out with chips and a variety of salsas.  Then the manager came to our table and apologized to us and said that there was a miscommunication on their part and our server honestly did not know she was assigned to our table.  As a sign of their goodwill, they offered us a complimentary plate of chicken & cheese nachos.  They were really good!

Our order finally came, again with some more apologies, but honestly at this point we've cooled off.  I ordered the Chilaquiles Verdes Con Pollo.  My wife ordered the taco salad in a tortilla bowl.  My oldest ordered the grilled chicken quesadilla, my son begrudgingly ordered the chicken tenders and fries as he says that place makes him want to puke (he's a bit of a dramatist), and my youngest ordered the children's cheese quesadilla.

Everyone in my family enjoyed their meals.  They were piping hot and a bit spicy, which is the way I like it.  This photo is of the Chilaquiles Verdes Con Pollo, which looked a lot like the chicken and cheese nachos with the verdes salsa that we got with our nachos.  Oh, well.  It was awesome.  I can't believe I ate half of it!

Though the experience started off on a bad note, our server did a great job of tending to us and being very friendly.  We gave her the benefit of the doubt and were nice in return once we had placed our order.  The food there is really good.  I've also had the seafood burrito, which was amazing, and the enchilada platter, which is usually my go-to meal.

The meals range in prices from around $10 to less than $20.  Our family of five with drinks paid $50..

If you're in Westminster, or if not and you're looking for some place different to try, go to Papa Joe's.