Providence Road leads to nowhere. I don't mean absolutely nowhere. There are hundreds of lovely little houses in either direction off of Exit 28. But in terms of businesses, especially ones catering to a hungry Homo sapiens searching for snacks, your immediate options are, well, limited. A Royal Farms and a bowling alley, and that's about it if you go towards Towson. Nothing but houses and bucolic scenery in the other direction (squirrel stew anyone? They did make it in Maryland at one time. I think they still do. And no I'm not making fun of the idea. Hell, I'd try it!)
As is my custom on these Beltway Snacking trips, I drove around a bit to look for a place to eat. Down Providence Road - cop behind me, I hope she doesn't notice my one burned out brake light. Five minutes down a winding country road with churches and, yes, more houses. Back the other way, Providence, Cromwell Bridge, and finally I am at the entrance back onto the Beltway - via Exit 29 (note to self: check out the pit beef truck for your Exit 29A post).
Okay, let's try this again.
Turning back toward Towson, I eventually came upon Goucher Blvd, Joppa Road and the popular Towson Place complex, the only shopping center I know of that has both a Target and a Wal-Mart. I find myself here on occasion, less often these days. There are few non-chains that I know of in this area. As an aside: a colleague at work notes that she and her husband have gotten some less-than-exceptional service at the Panera Bread in Towson Place (I guess none of the Towson Panera Breads are very good). There is one place to eat here, the Einstein Bros. bagel shop (map), a not-so-famous chain with locations in almost every state. I used to go to the Beltsville location long ago as a student at College Park. I've been meaning to stop into this one, but I haven't gotten the occasion. I catalogue it as a lunch option in case I find nothing else.
Across the street is Joppa Road, originally a Native American road that European and African settlers started using as late as the 1690's. We have a few more businesses that offer potential. And no, I don't mean the Qdoba or the Applebee's. I do mean the Glory Days Grill (map) next to the Army Recruiting Center. This Richmond-based corporation has many Virginia locations, plus five in Maryland and one in West Virginia. Again, something to keep in mind for the future. As I drive around to find a way out I come across the Pickles and Chips Deli & Grille (map; Adventures in Baltimore Restaurants got here in October, about three months after they opened). This could be a promising lunch place. The promise of "breakfast all day" and the cartoonish pickle and potato chips on the awning and on the windows of the catering wagon are certainly enticing the hungry patron to come in. So I come in.
It's noon, and the homey Pickles and Chips is crowded, with several lunchers waiting in line for sandwiches and burgers, a few others for deli meats in the separate deli case (several types of pickles on top, I might add). I have to excuse myself out of the line so I can get a better look at the menu, but I can't see a thing! So I find one of the few take-out menus lying around and glance at the offerings. Wow, this place must be popular with local newsies! Check out some of these sandwich offerings:
- the Marty Bass (tuna, tomato and provolone on toasted everything bagel),
- not to be outdone, the Bob Turk (turkey club and sprouts, on whole wheat toasted bread - ahhh, sunshine-y!)
- the Laurie DeYoung (grilled ham and cheese sandwich on Texas toast)
- the 98 Rock Hercules (big - it's just big)
- the Mark Viviano (roasted turkey, cheddar cheese, hot peppers, on a kaiser roll - and say, whatever happened to John Buren?)
- the Maria Dennis (I love this description: "A BLT with more BLT than a normal BLT")
- and of course, the Brian Billick (3/4 lb of hot corned beef, though I think it's recently been fired)
I wanted to get home, where I knew it wouldn't be in the exact same hot and tasty condition it was in the bag, so I sampled a few items:
- the cheese on the burger really did stream off when I pulled a piece of burger off, much like in a commercial. This was promising.
- the curly fries were edible, but very forgettable. Flavorless and boring, but you will do worse at many places.
- the chips were interesting, though I'm still up in the air on how I felt about them. Ripple-cut, hard and crunchy, and very thick. Their flavor was more distinct than the curly fries, a little more "well done" than the fries
- I liked my pickle.
Places I visited:
Pickles & Chips Deli (deli / burgers) - 1220 East Joppa Road, Towson, MD 21286; Phone: (410) 321-1088
- Would I eat here again? Yes
- Would I go out of my way to eat here again? I probably would, but I'm not getting the 2 lb burger. Ever.
Einstein Bros. Bagels (bagels) - 901 Goucher Blvd, Towson, MD 21286; Phone: (410) 825-0420
Glory Days Grill (sports bar / grill) - 1220 E. Joppa Road, Towson, MD 21286; Phone (443) 901-0270