Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Exit 1 – MD-173 (Hawkins Pt. Rd to Pennington Ave and Ft. Smallwood Rd)

The first exit on my journey is a rarely-traveled one for me. The first day I got off at this exit was a Sunday, a week or two ago from this writing. I had done some research to find a place to eat, and had heard of this place called Cookie’s City Line Diner (map). It was the only – I mean the only – place I could find to eat for a while, before I just gave up and headed back to the beltway, never coming near Stoney Creek.

And Cookie’s was closed. So was a sub place down the street, so I figured everything was closed on Sundays in this town. I know, it sounds silly but it’s not that far-fetched (visit Loma Linda, CA, on a Saturday sometime – it’s a Seventh Day Adventist town and practically everything is shut down on Saturday), but I just headed back out.

So a subsequent Monday night I crossed the Bridge and headed back off of Exit 1. I got to the Diner – same thing, closed. They are, apparently, only open for breakfast and lunch, and for “special parties” (not good, as the only time I ever have to eat out is the dinner hour). Betty Boop, in fiberglass form, looked mockingly from the other side of the doors as I drove back off to find food somewhere else.

This Sunday was my last try. My patience was running thin, but I got up early enough to try to hit Cookie’s for lunch. Again, no luck. So I threw up my hands and drove further along Ft. Smallwood Road, not sure what I would find.

I found, as many of you probably knew already, the community of Riviera Beach, en route to Pasadena. And there were some comforting and, er, less comforting family-style restaurants, snowball stands and fast food joints along the road that I registered in my mind for later.

I finally settled on a side-of-the-road pit beef stand at the intersection of Ft. Smallwood, Riviera and Bar Harbor Roads (map). Big T’s BBQ, unlike (it seems) Cookie’s, is open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The owner of this African-American-owned business, along with his daughter, just exuded Southern hospitality. He said, as I asked, that he is there most weekends, hopefully, during the summer. And hopefully he will be, because I still have yet to try his pit beef, or his catfish, or his fried whiting. I did opt for the North Carolina-style Pork BBQ ($6.50). It was disappointingly dry – is NC Pork BBQ supposed to be this dry (here's a primer on NC-style pork BBQ)? But on the plus side, it tasted smoky in a good way. The sauce wasn’t sparse, but I still wish there had been more of it. And there was a lot of meat, too. I could only finish about 60% of the sandwich before I went on.

Driving back across Stoney Creek, enjoying the boats and the water, I eventually got hungry again when I saw a sign advertising Italian Ice and another sign on the property advertising gelati. Oh boy, gelati! Turns out, however, that Carmen’s Italian Ice, also on Ft. Smallwood Rd. (a better map here), does not serve gelati. It does serve something I have never heard of before: a sort of Italian Ice – soft serve parfait. In a cup, you top a dollop of soft serve ice cream with the Italian Ice (though it's more like a snowball than a granita) of your choice, and then finish it off with a peak of more soft serve ice cream. There is nothing Italian about this - it's just good old American junk food. And it's nothing special. Plain, nothing to write home about (write a blog about, on the other hand). It was tasty but I still wish I had gelato.

Thinking back to Sunday, there are more places I must try in this little picturesque community. The Stoney Creek Inn (map) looks like an inviting crab shack. Perhaps this will be my next spot to try out? Hopefully, it has better hours than Cookie’s.

Places I visited:

Big T’s BBQ (pit beef, Southern) – Intersection of Ft. Smallwood, Riviera and Bar Harbor Rds., Pasadena, MD., 21122. Open weekends during the spring and summer.

  • Would I eat there again? Sure
  • Would I go out of my way to eat there again? Maybe

Carmen’s Italian Ice (dessert) – 8461 Ft. Smallwood Rd., Pasadena, MD 21122.

  • Would I eat there again? Sure
  • Would I go out of my way to eat there again? No
Places to look up later:

Cookie's City Line Diner (American) - 6407 Ft. Smallwood Rd., Curtis Bay, MD 21226; Phone: (410) 354-3004
Stoney Creek Inn (crab house) - 8238 Ft. Smallwood Rd., Curtis Bay, MD 21226; Phone: (410) 439-3123

Other photos

This is the North Carolina pork BBQ. It looks better than it tastes, not that it tasted bad, mind you.

Carmen's on Ft. Smallwood Rd. The best way to find it is by looking for the Wendy's next door. Don't go out of your way.


Fairfax said...

if you're down that way again, the habitat for humanity place is worth a look... also there used to be a decent bakery around there.

Baltimore Snacker said...

I'll stop down there again - I'm curious to see if I can catch Cookie's while it's open, and I want to try that BBQ guy's fish. Thanks for the head's up.

Rachel said...

Cookies is always closed. Just opened for breakfast and lunch I think.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what you're talking about because Carmen's is THE BEST food that there is to eat in the summer. That italian ice and their gelatis are da bomb!

Anonymous said...

Cookies also has another Pasadena location off Mountain Road that is open for dinner too - it's the orignal Cookies restaurant...there are 3 of them open now.