It goes without saying that there is much to be found on Harford Road. Certainly, that's the case with the Parkville side. But it's an area I have never really explored as more than a convenient shortcut between home and work (Putty Hill takes me from Towson right into Essex). So when I got there the other day I was not sure exactly what I'd find - only that I knew I'd find it. Driving around sure didn't help: too many decisions to be made, and that's just taking Harford Road into consideration. A not-in-any-way-exhaustive list:
- Lee On Chinese Restaurant (map), the favorite of at least one plebeian reviewer, who said that this is a "carry out heaven of chinese,best pepper steak and tso's chicken around [sic]!!" I'll have to give it my egg roll and orange chicken test. And if they have dim sum, it's at least worth a look.
- Marie Conn's Italian and Tex-Mex Kitchen (map) also looked interesting, until I saw that it was empty - and even though I was just quickly passing by it looked totally empty, with nobody and nothing inside. Is it up for sale? I don't want to consign it to the "closed" category until I know for sure. I jumped the gun once and I am still a bit chagrined about it (again, El Salto is very much open for business).
- A few markets, including George's Farm Market (map), which looked more like a florist shop than a farmer's market, the Pavan Food Store (map), Parkville's own Indian-Pakistani market, and Nature's Pantry (map), selling health food since 1976.
- Of course, if healthy vegan stuff is not your cup of tea, there is the Pizza Man (map) pizza and subs place right next door. The New York Pizza and Chicken (map) is a bit further down but not an unreasonable walk.
- I almost stopped in the House of Kabob (map), but all they had was a buffet and I had enough food for a while (I stopped there after finding lunch -see below). The next time I'm up this way I'll stop in. If you're interested in learning Farsi, they have info posted right on the door!
- And of course, the local Irish pub, the Emerald Tavern (map). I'm not sure if they have lunch, but it definitely serves its fair share of bar food staples.
I got as far as across the street.
The folks at both Baltimore Magazine and the City Paper are wild about Jerry D's (map), a Parkville staple that serves, it seems, just about everything. Seafood-wise you sure won't be hurtin' - crab meat (I saw lump from North Carolina and Alabama at $25 per pound each - what about the Chesapeake Bay?), crabcakes, crab fluffs, crab legs (the Alaskan kind), softs, hard shell crabs - just like the Crabby Cousins (map) next door - shrimp, clams, oysters (both North Carolina and Maryland), ah screw it, just look at the menu yourself. Their raw platter must serve a dozen people at least, since it's big enough to cost you a good $100 (that isn't an option for lunch, I might add). Plus, Baltimore Magazine touts its pit beef sandwich (at $5.50) as the best in Baltimore. Don't tell that to the folks at the Charcoal Grill (map) down the street, in the Putty Hill Shopping Center (also home to several other food options)
And, Jerry's serves various Sun of Italy products, 99¢ hamburgers and a dizzying variety of foot long hot dogs, none more than $4. Several are that price, including, among others, their "brat dog" (brat as in bratwurst, not as in Stop kicking me, you brat!), "kosher dog" (only Nathan's finest will do) and their "veal dog" (the weisswurst, with "tiger sauce"?). Their basic dog is their "Jerry Dog" and goes for $2. It just has mustard and onions. I went a little further and got the "Parkville Dog", with mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and grilled onion. I didn't get home for another 45 minutes, so it wasn't terribly hot, but the fact that it was still somewhat warm was enticing enough. There is just something satisfying, even sensuous (get yer mind outta the gutter) about a nicely grilled foot long hot dog. It certainly compensated for the onions, tasty though extremely stringy - one bite and three whole unseverable onions come right out of the bun. But even with that, it was tasty.
Along with the dog I started thinking ahead to dinner, and bought a quarter peck (a lilttle over 2 L, or half a dry gallon) of North Carolina oysters ($6, only because our own Chesapeake Bay urshters cost two dollars more). The big heavy bag came out with my foot long, and it took my opening the bag to realize that the peck of oysters were live oysters in the shell. Sometimes, I'm a dumbass. But keep looking for a future post to find out what I did with those oysters last night (again, mind out of gutter).
Before heading back I looked for something to go with my foot long. Now, I rarely eat donuts. I'm very worried that may change after coming across this Fractured Prune place (map) - an Ocean City-based franchise with stores all over Maryland (13 to be exact, with three in OC - and two more in development), 22 locations in all, in such far-flung places as Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and North Carolina - and as far north as Ohio, as far south as Mississippi, and soon to be in Florida.
This place, I think, really could give Krispy Kreme a run for its money if it got big enough (pace all the Krispy Kreme supporters out there - and no, Dunkin Donuts is definitely leagues behind by now). This donut - a hot (that's important) cake donut with toppings dealt out after it's freshly made - has a dizzying variety of flavors. It's almost like the donut version of Cold Stone Creamery - Hot Dough Creamery? - with various icings, toppings (peanut, chocolate chips, coconut, etc) and sugars to sprinkle onto your donut. Here's a glimpse of the variety right here.
And because this was my first time (a Fractured Prune virgin - oooh, that sounds odd), I got to try a complimentary donut, the O.C. Sand: honey glaze and cinnamon sugar (not my choice, theirs, but still). It was a very good donut, too. I kept on nibbling the three others I bought in the car (one dollar each, and already four months' worth of donuts for me):
- triple chocolate (not on their menu, but apparently a featured donut: chocolate glaze and chocolate chips on a hot chocolate donut);
- lemonade (just lemon glaze and sugar on a regular donut); and
- the drag-queen-sounding Ms. Prunella (mixed berry and cinnamon sugar, again on a regular donut).
I took Putty Hill back towards Towson (needed to pick up an oyster shucking knife and Bed Bath and Beyond was on the way) and hardly got very far when I realized that I had eaten about half of each donut! Of course, these donuts especially are best when eaten hot. I swear, Krispy Kreme ruined me for Dunkin Donuts by making them hot. And I gotta say, Fractured Prune has now ruined me for Krispy Kreme with their "design your own donut" idea. With one exception, I might add (this would certainly win over Paula Deen): their Prunewich: a plain hot cake donut with scrambled egg, with or without cheese and/or meat. Umm, ick. That is never going into my mouth. For any reason. But the donuts, sure - I'd eat them again. I just have to force myself not to.
UPDATE: Baltimorediary recently posted with some very helpful information. Included are a few places I missed by not going a little bit further (they are now added at the end; links are added by me):
If you'd gone just a little further south, you'd also have struck on Fenwick Bakery, and Mastellone's, an Italian deli that is one of the best in the city. It's owned by the same people who run DiPasquale's in Highlandtown.Now I know a good Italian deli (map to Mastellone's) on the northeast side of town. And you have to hit me with a stick to keep me away from a good bakery (map to Fenwick), y'all.
Places I visited:
Fractured Prune (donuts / breakfast - one of 13 locations in Maryland, 22 total locations in and around the East Coast) - 8705 Harford Road, Parkville, MD 21234; Phone: (410) 661-9999
- Would I eat there again? I certainly would, though I must force myself to go infrequently
- Would I go out of my way to eat there again? They are now all over the place, so I don't have to.
- Would I eat there again? Definitely
- Would I go out of my way to eat there again? Sure
Charcoal Grill (pit beef - one of three are locations) - Putty Hill Shopping Center, 8355 Old Harford Road (next to the Liquor Pump), Parkville, MD 21234; Phone: (410) 668-9212
Crabby Cousins (crabs) - 7800 Harford Road, Parkville, MD 21234; Phone: (410) 668-0020
Emerald Tavern (pub) - 8300 Harford Road, Parkville, MD 21234; Phone: (410) 661-2299
Fenwick Bakery (bakery) - 7219 Harford Road, Parkville, MD 21234; Phone: (410) 444-6410
George's Farm Market (market - produce / flowers) - 7956 Harford Road, Parkville, MD 21234; Phone: (410) 668-3322
House of Kabob (Persian) - 8025 Harford Road, Parkville, MD 21234; Phone: (410) 663-0211
Lee On Chinese Restaurant (Chinese) - 8402 Harford Road, Parkville, MD 21234; Phone: (410) 663-8300
Marie Conn's Kitchen (Italian / Tex-Mex) - 8335 Harford Road, Parkville, MD 21234; Phone: (410) 661-2200
Mastellone's (Italian / deli / pizza) - 7212 Harford Road, Parkville, MD 21234; Phone: (410) 444-5433
Nature's Market (health food / vegetarian) - 7948 Harford Road, Parkville, MD 21234; Phone: (410) 882-5551
New York Pizza and Chicken (pizza / fried chicken) - 7812 Harford Road, Parkville, MD 21234; Phone: (443) 384-2285
Pavan Food Store (market - Indian / Pakistani) - 8904 Harford Road, Parkville, MD 21234; Phone: (410) 663-3201
Pizza Man (pizza and subs) - 7946 Harford Road; Parkville, MD 21234; Phone: (410) 663-1200
***And here's something weird: Google "Sun of Italy", in quotation marks, and http://sunofitaly.com is the seventh link to come up. WTF?