I'm not quite broke yet, but I will be if I spend too much more too often, especially without saving for my trip next week (I'll post about that later today). And with Restaurant Week in full swing, a guy's gotta find cheap ways to eat when he won't be home for long stretches of time and forgot to bring a lunch (duh). So it seemed like a good idea to find something cheap after work.
I found myself driving down East Drive, the main drag in Arbutus (oops, Halethorpe again) looking for just that. I had $9.00 in cash on me - coins and bills. Arbutus (or Ehrlich Country, Maryland, around election time - the ex-gov calls Arbutus home) has a few places to eat. It's a mixed bag, to be honest. There's the requisite Domino's Pizza (the national chain), and the New Asia Chinese Carry-Out (map), which I've written about before. New Asia has egg rolls to die for, and average to below-average everything else. And there is the Wings-To-Go (map) across the street, which I've never gone to. Nor have I ever tried the Arbutus institution known as Leon's Triple-L Restaurant & Lounge (map), which is right next to all of the aforementioned restaurants (and catch the fun "Welcome to the Sixties"-ish sign in front. Are you taking notes, Johnny Dollar?). Compared to Lansdowne, Arbutus is a hodgepodge of eating establishments.
One place I had gone to a while back that looked promising, Kaila's Cafe (map) seems to be closed down. I went into this Caribbean/American/health food-y joint to find incredibly slow service. Of course, that was two years ago, not long after it opened. It was quite understaffed at that time, and a little too expensive to justify the wait. But the food, tasty, Jamaican food, was good. I don't know when it closed, or even if it truly is. The deserted place is, as of this writing, full of all the stuff you need in a typical restaurant. It even has a chess game in progress on the counter! But there was a "CLOSED" sign in the window when I stopped by, about 12:30 pm, with a faded, handwritten sign that says "WE ARE OPEN. IF DOOR IS LOCKED PLEASE KNOCK." I don't know about y'all, but I think that's a pretty strange way to run a restaurant.
Sorrento's of Arbutus (map) is rarely closed during the lunch rush. And, of course, they weren't closed today, either. I figured I could find something cheap and edible for the $8.50 I had remaining that I hadn't plunked down in the meters across the street, next to the High's Store
- one quarter gets you 50 minutes; I put in two, in case I ran long. Quarters only >:( .
I was able to get a full meal with money to spare! I noticed a sign advertising their lunch special: sirloin or chicken cheesesteak with fries and a small soft drink for only $6! I briefly glanced at the pizzas - another specialty - to see if I wanted a slice instead. Nope. So I ponied up the $6.30 (that's with tax) and ordered the sirloin cheesesteak. About 10 minutes later - this isn't fast food, people - I had my tray with my cheesesteak cooked to my specifications: with onions, without mayo.
It may have tasted better with the mayo. The cheesesteak wasn't dry, but it was a wee bit bland. Again, that's what I get for holding the mayo. I could've put various things on it, though, to further pep it up: salt, pepper, ketchup. They had that stuff and more by the booster seats. I nestled into a window seat and started eating, reading a "scathing" article in the Baltimore Sun about that new diet drug Alli, which helps you lose weight easily without cutting back on fatty foods. The only catch? Put your food down.
Whatever you eat in terms of fatty foods comes out in oily, watery, explosive diarrhea.
Okay, you can pick up that delicious fatty cheesesteak again.
Of course, reading that didn't bother me while I was eating - me, Mr. "Crohn's boy who can eat tandoori chicken and spare ribs during a George Romero zombie movie marathon." I've been through worse. But seriously, people who take Alli (like several people in my family, for instance) likely know that going in. My family members see it less as "Oh great, I have to put up with explosive diarrhea to eat all the fatty foods I want," and more "Okay, this Alli thing should help me stay away from fatty foods because it makes them so damn unpleasant to eat!" (NB: If you are on Alli, the manufacturers recommend taking a multivitamin with it, to replenish the nutrients that come with the fat that's being flushed out of your system. Just a head's up.)
I am not on Alli, nor do I need to be. But I saw a few people at Sorrento's who should probably consider it.
As to the rest of the food: standard everything. Again, despite my desire to de-fat as much of my food as possible, I probably should've left the mayo on the cheesesteak. It needed it. But the ketchup and sprinkle of salt did help a bit. I didn't finish the fries - I rarely do. And I left with new diet drug information, too, thinking just how unpleasant it could've been with a side of Alli.
Places I visited:
Sorrento's of Arbutus (subs/pizza/American cuisine) - 5401 East Drive, Arbutus, MD 21227; Phone: (410) 242-6474
- Would I eat there again? Probably
- Would I go out of my way to eat there again? I don't need to, but I probably would
Kaila's Cafe (Jamaican/American/health food) - 5313 East Drive, Arbutus, MD 21227; Phone: (410) 247-0195
- Primary reason to look up later, since I've eaten there already: to see if they are still open or not
Wings-to-Go (wings) - 5315 East Drive, Arbutus, MD 21227; Phone: (410) 242-1811