I am all too familiar with the intersection of Nursery and Hammonds Ferry Roads. I have eaten at most of the places around it. And I have written about most of them, too: Szechuan Hot Wok, G&M, Philadelphia Style Pizza and Subs, Little Grove, John's Italian Deli (twice; note also that it's actually closer to Exit 9).
I've also eaten a few times at Snyder's Willow Grove (map), which is literally right off the Beltway. My coworkers even went there once for happy hour. Hell, I even went here after my junior prom! But before the other day, I had not eaten there for at least ten years - so of course, I haven't written about it at all. So it seemed that this project would be the perfect reason to revisit.
Snyder's was all but destroyed a few times - actually, it's kind of surprising it's still around! Fire in 1944, Hurricanes Agnes and Eloise in the early 1970's. But that only made 'em remodel, creating the Snyder's I became familiar with. And it's very posh in the main dining room. Which is why it's so jarring to see folks eating in just street attire - T shirts and shorts, jeans, etc. Business meetings, club meetings, and just regular lunches and dinners go on there. The place is divided into the main dining room and a separate lounge (which is their smoking section until 2008). But I assume the prices are the same in both places. And the dinner and banquet prices are a lot more expensive than their lunch prices.
It was this last factor that made me stop by Snyder's for lunch and not dinner. I went into the lounge, where the barmaid went out of her way to tell me, in a voice much deeper than mine, "You probably want the non-smoking section. You look too healthy to be in here!" Not that all the patrons looked like they belonged in the ICU, but it was just comical.
The main dining room is as lovely as I remember it, and was about halfway full. One waitress gave me a menu before another told her she had the wrong table! But each was as congenial as the other. She asked me what I wanted to drink, and I asked for a Diet Coke. She misunderstood and brought out a Coke, but she replaced it quickly when I told her.
As I said, lunch is cheaper than dinner. Lunch items run about $8 to $14, while dinner items easily run double that. Snyder's serves everything from hamburgers and hot roast beef to lobster, surf and turf, fried Chesapeake Bay oysters and "Chicken Chesapeake" - chicken with generous portions of crab imperial stuffed inside. The cheapest things on the lunch menu are the sandwiches and burgers. I wanted a burger, and went for the Bleu Burger ($8), which I figured was a burger with bleu cheese. With that, I ordered a side of Oriental chicken soup, their soup of the day ($3 for a small cup; doesn't come with the burger). I got the soup a little while later - they were pretty busy. It was tasty enough. It had those crunchy noodles on top that you usually find in the Chung King chop suey packages. Not much chicken, but truly, there was not much soup either.
The burger came out about 10 minutes after I was done with the soup - again, they were pretty busy, so really I don't fault them. I was wrong about the concept of the burger. It was a hamburger with bleu cheese dressing on top, and there was a lot of it. And it was weak as far as dressings go. To that I asked them to add onions (raw, red) and mushrooms (fried). The burger itself was good, but the bleu cheese really was just a mostly flavorless layer of fat and cream, nothing more. However, the fries that came with it were very good, and the pickle was a standard pickle. I even lucked out and got a brand new, never-been-opened bottle of ketchup, which I quickly used on the burger. I eventually had to cut it up and eat it in pieces, as it fell apart. I hate it when that happens.
All told, for a burger, small soup and a Diet Coke (free refill - and the waitress just brought out a new soda while I was still finishing the last one) came to about $16.50. I left $20, leaving the difference as a tip.
So Snyder's was as good as I remember. It cost more than I remember. But I guess that's because somebody else usually paid!
Places I visited:
Snyder's Willow Grove Restaurant (American / Chesapeake cuisine) - 841 N Hammonds Ferry Rd, Linthicum, MD, 21090; Phone: (410) 789-1149
- Would I eat there again? Sure, but only for lunch - dinner's too expensive
- Would I go out of my way to eat there again? Sure, not that I have to, I mean I pass by it all the time