Friday, October 19, 2007

Exit 15B: US-40 West (to Ellicott City)

I haven't been eating out much lately, but I did get out to Route 40 for some lunch. Actually, I'm no stranger to Route 40 West. My parents dragged this willing boy and his sisters out to the Enchanted Forest all the time when I was young. Here's what it looked like then; it's now a business park, though the nice folks at Clark's Elioak Farm have carted off lots of Enchanted Forest booty and refurbished it for modern kiddies.

Today there's lots of good eatin' out along Route 40, and lots of so-so eatin' as well. There are the typical fast food joints: the McDonald'ses, the Arby'ses, the Wendy'ses, the Starbuckses, the ToreOres. Wait, what's that last one? ToreOre (all in Korean, but the song is cutesy and infectious, whatever it means), from which I got a free sample the last time I was free-sample hunting at the H-Mart. They deal in fried chicken pieces. And unlike most fast food, theirs is pretty juicy and actually tasty. Most of their locations are in South Korea, but there are five state-side. Two are in Georgia (Johns Creek and Riverdale, both around Atlanta), and one each in Ridgefield, New Jersey; Fairfax, Virginia; and - you guessed it - Bawlmer (map). Look for it past the Korean / sushi cafeteria-style seating, near the kimchi. Next door to the H-Mart is the Cham Mat, the seemingly re-christened food court of the Be-Se-To (BEjeing-SEoul-TOkyo) Department store, which has Korean food served cafeteria-style that is just a wee bit more expensive than I would like to pay. Most of the dishes were around $10 - $13. Okay, I could've paid for it, but for some reason I thought it'd be cheaper. I'll try it out sometime.

For lunch today, I went elsewhere. I entertained the thought of CiCi's Pizza (map) and the Pho Nam (map) next door. But I couldn't help coming back to the ever-famous Double T Diner (map). It's a local chain with diners in Annapolis, Ellicott City, Pasadena, etc. and so forth. I had always liked Double T and was looking forward to a nice cheeseburger, which I ordered as take-out with some fries. What concerned me when I was looking for the phone number to call 'em was the dearth of very good user reviews over the past year floating around in cyberspace. Overall, there were some pretty mixed reviews (note here for a glowing review, here for some mixed ones, and here for some pretty average ratings, and here's a mixed review of the one in Pasadena).

Initially deterred, I forged ahead and decided for myself if Double T was still worth the effort. The place was packed, as it usually is (24 hours a day). Service was brusque but relatively quick for the lunch rush. I paid about $7.50 for my cheeseburger and fries, and went back to work.

Sadly, my suspicions were confirmed, as I was indeed disappointed with the food. The burger was the bright spot of the meal, though it really was your average burger. The cheese glued the roll to the meat, which isn't such a bad thing until you stop to consider that the lettuce, tomato and condiments are put on the side and not on the burger - so when you open up the burger to put them on, half the bun stays on the burger! It was juicy enough, and had a good flavor, but was not something I'd order again. To Double T's credit, they certainly have enough on their encyclopaedic menu. But I've had better burgers, and out of all the things a diner serves, they should at least get that right.

Part of the reason that the burger was the best thing about the meal were the fries. Inconsistent and flavorless all around, half of them were hard and dry as rocks (and tasted freezer burned), and half of them were soggy (not just soft but soggy) and smooshed. Truly a throwaway item (which is what I did with half of them). Don't even ask about the little tub of cole slaw. At least the pickle was good.

I don't see myself going back to Double T for a while. At least there's the ToreOre!

Places I visited:

Double-T Diner (diner / American / Greek) -
6300 Baltimore National Pike, Catonsville, MD 21228; Phone: (410) 744-4151

  • Would I eat there again? Only because of the variety
  • Would I go out of my way to eat there again? No
ToreOre (chicken / Korean fast food) - Located in the H-Mart, next to the kimchi case, 800 N Rolling Rd, Catonsville, MD 21228; Phone: (443) 612-9020
  • Would I eat there again? Sure
  • Would I go out of my way to eat there again? Maybe
Places to look up later:

Cham Mat (Korean, formerly the Be-Se-To food court) - Located in Be-Se-To Department Store, 822 N. Rolling Rd., Catonsville, MD 21228; Phone: (410) 744-3027

CiCi's Pizza (pizza) -
6473 Baltimore National Pike, Catonsville, MD 21228; Phone: (410) 719-1001

Pho Nam (Vietnamese) - 6 Get Directions477 Baltimore National Pike, Catonsville, MD 21228; Phone: (410) 455-6000

Other photos:

The one thing all reviewers in cyberland agreed on was the ambience - Double T does not hurt in this category.

Double T Diner on Urbanspoon


crabapple said...

There is a pizza place in that center, I think called Tonys, that is pretty awesome. You never know what the daily pizzas by the slice will be, but they really have some good stuff....and the slices are HUGE. It would be entirely possible to get a delicious filling meal for around 5 bucks there.

John said...

I didn't even venture to that side but I've seen it. I will venture over and try it out. Thanks!

Baltimore Dating said...

I prefer Iggies more than any other. My friends and I literally dream of the "cipolla" pizza with ricotta, pancetta and onion confit. It's on the pricier side, but the ingredients are always fresh and the pizzas delicious. It can get chaotic and loud on Thursday through Saturday evenings, so its better to go on earlier weeknights or for lunch on the weekends - much more civilized. And you can bring your own booze! It really doesn't get better than an evening at Iggie's

Jill said...

I prefer the Ellicott City location; less crowded. At any rate, I don't expect much, so I'm not disappointed.