Thursday, August 02, 2007

Exit 10 - US-1 Alt (Washington Blvd, to Arbutus)

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.

Down? Okay.

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
Places to look up later:

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
Leon's Triple-L Restaurant & Lounge (American) - 5309 East Drive, Arbutus, MD 21227; Phone: (410) 242-9832

Wings-to-Go (wings) - 5315 East Drive, Arbutus, MD 21227; Phone: (410) 242-1811


Cruel Hazel said...

Restaurant with a door closed- normal.
Restaurant with the door locked- SKETCHY.

I am still trying to think of a reasonable explanation as to why ANY open restaurant would lock their doors during business hours. I mean, I lived in Baltimore, DC, and College Park: the trifecta of Ghetto-tacular; and even there, restaurants kept doors unlocked.

Seems a bit in opposition to the term "hospitality".

The TriniGourmet said...

omg your description of kaila's had me rolling... and the chess board... how shady! :)

John said...

Y'all: AND I forgot to mention that nobody was inside and all the lights were off. But of course, I figured you would just assume that. :) TG: I'm glad you thought it was funny. It really was! CH: I also doubt there's any good reason at all to have the doors locked during business hours. I'm just scratching my head about it.

Jamaila said...

Darn! I was hoping you'd go the other way and check out that Macaroni something or other place on Caton Ave -- the one that's right in front of the 95 exit. Cause as far as I can tell, it's the closest sit-down restaurant to our house, but I'm nervous about trying it, what with it being in front of a shady motel and all. :) You could have been my guinea pig!

John said...

Jamaila: Oh I haven't even gotten that far yet. I ate there a LOOOOOOONG time ago, back after a 9th grade dance back in 1980-something. Somewhere in the late 80's (WHOO, I'm dating myself). I really don't remember if it was any good. I don't know where I'll eat once I go that way. The exit is probably next on my itinerary - 11A is the 95, the first exit being, what, Caton Ave? As to where I would eat: I usually decide these things on the spur of the moment. Strangely, the cafeteria at St. Agnes isn't that bad, as far as hospital cafeterias go. But I won't be reviewing that.

johnny dollar said...

you right, that sign kicks ass!

Francisco said...

If you ever venture down there i highly rec you go to Kailas Cafe. Though you will have to visit in the eve. The hours have changed a bit and to get a good feel for the place you should probly just talk to the chef. If your really curious about all these "odd" things, just ask. Please, don't be so reserved.

John said...

I have been there. It was okay when I went. It still looks closed even when it's open, so it baffles me as to why it's still open. Also, I don't see what is so "odd" about Jamaican food. It's just another delicious cuisine worth eating. One just wants to make sure the restuarant serving it is actually open!

Francisco said...

i wasn't refering to the food as the oddity.

Morty Abzug said...

Did you try Pizza Paradise? They have curry-flavored pizza. So it's not just another pizza joint -- it's awesome stuff. I live in Columbia, MD, but I make a point to do carry-out occasionally when I'm in the area. Pizza Paradise is near Sorrento's of Arbutus.

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