Thursday, September 20, 2007

Exit 13: MD-144 (Frederick Road, to Catonsville)

When I woke up this morning I truly thought that I knew Catonsville. I now realize just how little I knew about it! I headed there en route to work looking for some food. I left a little early so I decided to explore some places I hadn't tried before. Now I am no stranger to Frederick Road - that is, Catonsville's Main Street. It's a charming little town, kind of Mayberry-esque, with lots of little stores lining the street. I am a frequent denizen of the library, and pass through here for work all the time.

Best known to me are some local music stores, all within walking distance from each other: the Bill's Music House (I refurbished my grandfather's violin here, and I still haven't bothered to take lessons), the Appalachian Bluegrass Shoppe (bought an extremely used cello here in fifth grade for $150), the Piano Man (okay, not too familiar with it) and several guitar shops. Oh, and how can I forget the Record and Tape Traders that my sister and I have gone to again and again over the years? It's as if this section of Frederick Road, near the firehouse and the HQ of local representative Elijah E. Cummings, was just a big music neighborhood.

In and around here is excellent food as well, including faves of mine: Thai Heaven (map; not the best Thai, but it's alright), Sam's Bagels (map; never written about it but I've been enjoying their bagels all over Baltimore since the early 90's) and Indian Delight (map), whose $8 carry-out buffet is one of my favorite things to eat for lunch. It's about damn time they got a website up! I've written about Indian Delight before. It was my first exposure to Indian cuisine, and it's certainly been a frequent one.

But I sought out places I hadn't yet visited. The Sea Hut Inn (map), a long-standing favorite with a big neon crab in the window, was an obvious choice, but I wasn't in the mood for seafood today. As luck would have it, there was a parking space in front of SugarBakers Cakes, a bakery I haven't entered before. I rectified that today when I went in looking to see what sweets awaited me. And no design flaws here (pace Julia and Suzanne, no relation)*: it's damn charming - goddamn charming! It even has a little eatery to the side where you can go and eat cake! And some of the cakes on display looked like something out of Ace of Cakes, including a hilarious "barrel of monkeys" cake done up all in fondant. Okay, most of their cakes aren't nearly that, well, over the top. But there were some gorgeous cakes that looked too purty to eat. The display case in front has some cakes, plus several slices of cakes (all $3), lemon bars and other assorted baked goods. I got a slice of their "Neapolitan" cake - yellow on chocolate on yellow cake with raspberry icing sandwiched between the various layers, all iced with vanilla buttercream. I couldn't wait to try it, so as soon as I got out to my car, I opened it and took a bite. I gotta say: it was one of the softest, moistest, most mellow and buttery cakes I have eaten in a long time - and I hate fruit icings! Puts anything out of Whole Foods to shame.

I tore myself away from this cake to find some sustenance. I remembered that several people, my baby sister included, have recommended the Taneytown (pronounced "Tawneytown") Deli and Sandwich Shop (map) - my sister Cathy was, in fact, indignant that I had never set foot in the place! So I set foot in the place. Again, charming with an eating space - where have these places been hiding all my life? Very busy, which is always a good sign. After perusing the menu I was quite bewildered - they offered so much! And when a restaurant offers that much, I get easily befuddled because I can't make a decision to save my life. But as I usually do in delis and sammich shops, my eyes zoned in on the Reuben. Did you know that Taneytown Deli offers not one, not two, but five different Reubens? Corned beef, turkey, imported ham, etc (you have to go yourself to find out the rest). I stuck with the standard corned beef Reuben, plus an iced tea with Splenda on the side (I can't take sugar in my drinks; I need something artificial and chemically). Total cost: $6.41. I didn't eat it right away, but headed off to work. Half an hour later the bread was a bit soggy, but that's typical of any Reuben. The flavor however? Wonderful. Not all goo'd down with excessive cheese. I do like cheese, but they didn't go overboard with it. Fattening as it was, I didn't feel guilty after eating it. Both the corned beef and sauerkraut were nice and juicy, and the bread was buttery on the outsides. It was one truly satisfying sandwich.

Including my cake at SugarBakers and my Reuben and iced tea at Taneytown Deli, I spent just under $10 for lunch and a snack that is lasting me all day. I don't usually aim to spend so much for lunch, but for so much and such a high quality (and satisfaction), it was money well spent. I just have to pack PBJ for lunch tomorrow!

* Why isn't Designing Women on TV anymore? Man, I loved that show.

Places I visited:

Sam's Bagels (bagels / sandwiches) - 728 Frederick Road, Catonsville, MD 21228; Phone: 410-719-6668

  • Would I eat there again? Yes
  • Would I go out of my way to eat there again? Yes indeed!
SugarBakers Cakes (bakery) - 752 Frederick Road, Catonsville, MD 21228; Phone: (410) 788-9478

  • Would I eat there again? OMFG Yes
  • Would I go out of my way to eat there again? Yes indeed!
Taneytown Deli (deli / sandwiches) - 10 Mellor Ave, Catonsville, MD 21228; Phone: (410) 747-2673

  • Would I eat there again? Hell yes
  • Would I go out of my way to eat there again? Yes!!!
Thai Heaven (Thai) - 6413 Frederick Road, Catonsville, MD 21228; Phone: (410) 455-9239

  • Would I eat there again? Yes
  • Would I go out of my way to eat there again? Nope, I'm just not feelin' it
Places to look up later:

Sea Hut Inn (American / seafood / Chesapeake) - 729 Frederick Rd, Catonsville, MD 21228; Phone: (410) 788-0388

Other photos:

Catonsville really is a quaint little town, depending on where you are at it at least.
And that's not even including that part of Frederick Road on the Irvington side of the exit

From this angle, you can see the Indian Delight. It's conveniently sandwiched between the Piano Man and a Jiffy Lube (and some other buildings)

Mmmm. Enough to make you want to jog around the block twenty times just to eat 'em. And you should see their cakes!

It's like they did their decorating at the 4H Hall at the State Fair. Yes, it is charming. Mind you it isn't what I decorate my home to look like, but it's charming enough for a half hour of lunch.


anonymouscoworker said...

There's a reason Catonsville named itself "Musictown USA". Also, try the shrimp salad at the Sea Hut Inn the next time you go. It's great.

John said...

ACW: I'll have to stop by the Sea Hut Inn sooner than later!

Jeff Q said...

Nevermind my other comment. I work on campus at UMBC, and the ladies in our office order there once a week for carryout. I go there irregularly with my boss for lunch too. I'm trying to get through the menu but I keep repeating the #73.