Unless you're going to the Park and Ride off Exit 16B, you have to drive a ways to find food off of I-70. But you don't have to go all the way to Carroll or Frederick Counties. Sure, Westminster and Frederick have good enough food. but if you want food, like, now, just stop off the Route 29 exit (towards Columbia, not Washington), leading ultimately to Route 40 and Ellicott City. And yes, you could go to the Historic District (which is always fun), but again, you don't have to go that far either. I went as far as the Normandy Shopping Center for grub this Sunday. I found a lot - enough to have to make a second trip.
Normandy is somewhere between Route 40 and the former Enchanted Forest. The biggest part of the shopping center is a Safeway. Ignore it (supermarkets are a dime a dozen) and head instead for Ganesh Brothers (map). A somewhat nicer Indian grocery store than most I have found. Many Indian grocery stores, oddly, have a wide selection of dusty boxes and cans; at Ganesh, there's not a lot of dust. I found a dizzying array of ready-made spice mixes, frozen foods, flours of all kinds, jars of pickles, bottles of rose syrup, and of course, bags and bags of basmati rice. Apparently the good stuff comes from India; I got a bag of cheaper basmati from Pakistan for $6. Add to that a little box of Shan brand Achaar Gosht (Meat in Pickling Spices) Mix for $1 and I walked out with groceries I hadn't even realized I needed (though I had wanted them, to be sure). The guy before me bought some pretty tasty-looking Indian sweets, but I didn't feel like getting out of line to find them too.
A bevy of restaurants caught my eye for lunch - a very late lunch. Next to Ganesh was Niko Japanese Restaurant (map), but I didn't have the cash for sushi. (I left my card at home, in an ironic attempt to not spend much money. It's worked.) Further down the parking lot was Kelsey's Irish Restaurant and Pub (map). I catalogued it for the possible Hungover Gourmet fish & chips crawl and continued on. I finally settled on Nora Cafe (map), which looked quite promising. Until I found out that the door was locked. You see, I got there about an hour after they closed (3 pm on Sundays). So no Nora Cafe today - have to save it for another time as well.
After passing a nondescript little Chinese place in the same plaza I finally settled on the Ledo's Pizza (map) at the other end of the strip from the Irish place. I don't normally review chains in this Beltway series - and at 80 restaurants this is definitely a chain - but it looks like a local chain. Scattered below the Mason-Dixon Line (as far south as Florida), 50 of the locations are in Maryland - the first Ledo was in Adelphi - and most of the rest are in Virginia. And here's a fun fact - they are a sponsor of the Mid-Atlantic Skateboard Series (not that I know much of anything about skateboarding - I don't know anything about it actually).
I sought out the cheapest item on the menu. Originally I set my sights on a nice calzone, but my stomach gave way to a small personal pizza. I got the small Hawaiian pizza ($6.25), but added anchovies (another 75 cents - yes, I am an anchovy person). About 15 minutes later it was done. I took it home to eat.
This Ledo pizza was square - this I knew, because the girl behind the counter showed it to me to make sure they got it right. It was also a little greasy, but so are all American pizzas. It was a tasty pizza, and I'd eat it again, but I've had better. It's easy to do pineapple on a pizza right, and Ledo didn't disappoint, though it had an irritating habit of falling off each slice that I picked up. The ham was sufficiently melted into the cheese, and the anchovies just popped out from the cheese too. For what it's worth, I ate five of the nine pieces they cut it into, and saved the rest for lunch the next day.
Places I visited:
Ganesh Brothers (grocery store - Indian / South Asian) - 8450 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21043; Phone: (410) 203-2525
- Would I shop there again? Certainly
- Would I go out of my way to shop there again? Again, yes.
- Would I eat there again? Yes
- Would I go out of my way to eat there again? No
Kelsey's Irish Pub (Irish / pub) - 8480 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, Maryland 21043; Phone: (410) 418-9076
Niko Japanese Restaurant (Japanese) -8450 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, MD; Phone: (410) 418-8400
Nora Cafe (American) - 8450 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City, MD; Phone: (410) 461-6902