Thursday, May 15, 2008

Exit 31C: MD-43 East (White Marsh Blvd, to White Marsh)

Ah, White Marsh! Or Nottingham, if you go by what the post office says. Land of shopping, shopping and more shopping! Standard mall shopping, upscale shopping and IKEA shopping (and have you tried their cafeteria? I have. Even wrote about it a while back).

Exit 31C only exists in the inner loop, and it's one of those irritating left exits. And once you're there, you have to do some serious driving to get to anything other than half-foreclosed condos, past a Wal-Mart and a storage facility, past Route 1 (coming up next time), and on to White Marsh. First stop: White Marsh Plaza, your typical supermarket-anchored strip mall.

Driving around White Marsh Plaza, I found one mom & pop restaurant, the China Wok (map) next to Giant. They seem to be doing what a lot of Chinese places are doing these days - selling not just Chinese, but also Thai, Korean or (in this case) Japanese. It's worth a look, but I've had my fill of fast Chinese food for one month. So I headed to White Marsh Mall (map). And of course, I found lots and lots of junk, specifically in their food court - the enticingly named "Carousel", appropriate only due to its large carousel in the middle of the food court.

The two most viable dining options were, in fact, sit down places. Lin's China Buffet, with its 100 item buffet (I've had issues with 100 item buffets in my life) was massive but had more employees inside than customers. So no. The other was that old reliable standby known as Friendly's, which I've eaten at many times, though never at the one in White Marsh. I passed it up for other options.

I headed out to the Avenue at White Marsh (map), which has mostly national chains and outlets (Don Pablo's, Starbucks, Chili's, Omaha Steaks - which isn't an eat-in place, and opening soon, a Cold Stone Creamery) and some I have written about before (Kobe Grill, Red Brick). But a few places I did consider:

  • The Bayou Café, one and only one location - the Avenue. Packed for lunch on this beautiful day. They look like a bar and grill, and serve what seems like a combo of Chesapeake, Cajun and barbeque. Some interesting items on their menu, which will probably draw me there soon enough, include their Cajun blackened scallops ($10 - I love scallops), their po'boy ($9. It's a sandwich I haven't had this close to the Mason-Dixon Line for a good while - and don't go to Popeye's if they say they've got one), and their "Avenue Alligator" ($9) which features - yes - alligator, wrapped in bacon and done up in a mango barbeque sauce.
  • Della Rose's, which has two locations - White Marsh and Canton, their original location which has been around since 1944. When I first saw the place, I naturally assumed (from the name) that it served Italian food, but they do serve more - a combination of Italian, Maryland, and American comfort food. More interesting menu items include their Caesar Bruschetta Salad, chicken parmigiana with spaghetti, Cuban burger, and various menu items tapping into the wonders of the Chesapeake Bay, including the standard Maryland Crab Soup, but also their Grilled Norfolk - Virginia ham and Chesapeake Bay blue crab (good LORD). I found these on the online menu, but alas, I saw no prices next to them.
And then there's Zack's Hot Dogs. I went to this last place for a small lunch. It's a compact but colorful hot dog joint with minimal seating - best to just do what I did, and take it outside to eat by the fountain. I've never seen so much variety in hot dogs, except at, say, Jerry D's in Parkville. Orange Julius doesn't even come close to that variety, nor does that hot dog place at Arundel Mills (the one with the lemonade). They also serve sausages and "not dogs" (subs, reubens and the like). Typical dogs (all around $3.50, $6 for a combo) include:
  • New York Dog, covered in chili and NYC-style "street cart" onions;
  • Chicago Dog (those Chicagoans love their hot dogs, don't they?), covered in chopped tomato and onion, with spicy mustard, relish, peppers and a pickle wedge on top (always difficult to eat, always tasty, wherever you go to get it;
  • Southern Dog, basically a Carolina Dog, covered in cole slaw and chili;
  • Southwestern Chipotle Dog - a sausage with salsa, jalapeño, cheddar cheese and chipotle mustard on it. That one sounds like a mess - I'm avoiding it;
  • And here's a nice surprise: the Baltimore Dog! I thought it would be something silly, like a hot dog topped with crab or something. (I love hot dogs, I love crab. Still, ick.) But no: it's a kosher dog wrapped in a piece of fried bologna. My mother made this for me every time we went to Attman's for kosher dogs, bologna and whitefish. I don't know why she did that, but I guess it is a Baltimore thing after all!
Despite the allure of a hometown hot dog, I stuck with the Southern Dog. But I will go back at some point for the Baltimore Dog. I ordered the combo, with fries (can also get cole slaw, potato or pasta salad, mac and cheese, or beanies and weenies) and a 20 oz drink for $6.

The Southern Dog Combo ($6 exactly, before tax that is), with curly fries and a Diet Pepsi

I liked the hot dog, including the roll, which seemed like a moist and tasty potato roll. The cole slaw is crunchy and better than I had expected it to be, while the chili is pretty standard. The fries were a throw away item, even after I smothered them in Old Bay and various other spices lined up along their wall. I would certainly go back, but probably just for the hot dogs. I love those frankfurter sandwiches.

Other photos:

Okay, I know it's a buyer's market. Oh hey, is Giant for sale?

I really don't know how to follow that one.

Ummm, hello?

You just know they're heading for that last copy of Grand Theft Auto IV.

Mmmm. MSG and hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup an other preservatives.

Places I visited:

Friendly's (over 500 locations in sixteen states up and down the Eastern seaboard - not on this trip but many times in the past. I don't eat there much anymore.) - White Marsh Mall, 8200 Perry Hall Blvd., White Marsh, MD 21236; Phone: (410) 931-7216
  • Would I eat there again? If I had to
  • Would I go out of my way to eat there again? No
Zack's Hot Dogs (hot dogs - four locations in the Baltimore area, including Carney, Bel Air and the Inner Harbor) - The Avenue at White Marsh, 8137 Honeygo Blvd. (next to the movie theater), White Marsh, MD 21236; Phone: (410) 931-1234
  • Would I eat there again? Yes I would
  • Would I go out of my way to eat there again? Probably
Places to look up later:

Bayou Café / Blues Bar (Cajun / Chesapeake / American) - The Avenue at White Marsh, 8133 #A Honeygo Blvd., White Marsh, MD 21236; Phone: (410) 931-2583

China Wok (Chinese / Japanese) - 7916 Honeygo Blvd., Nottingham, MD 21236; Phone: (410) 931-3586

Della Rose's (Italian / American / Chesapeake - with two locations in the Baltimore area) - The Avenue at White Marsh, 8153 #A, Honeygo Blvd., White Marsh, MD 21236; Phone: 410-933-8861

Lin's China Buffet (Chinese / Japanese) - White Marsh Mall, 8200 Perry Hall Blvd., White Marsh, MD 21236; Phone: (410) 933-8878


Chodite said...

Nooo! You sould have made a right turn onto Honeygo Blvd first, instead of making a left! You totally missed Casa Mia's (it would've been right there if you'd made a right turn first!) and their amazing crab cake sub. Annnd you were just 2 minutes away from Cannela's Italian Deli. Boo :P

At least you got to check out Della's.

Ok, I'll now read the rest of this post.

Chodite said...

By the way - all the times I've been to The Avenue @ White Marsh, not once have I stepped foot in Zack's Hot Dogs. I've been missing out!

Thanks for the review(s)

John said...

Damn, it figures I missed something. Though maybe I missed it off of another exit. Is it anywhere near Taylor Ave?

Ryan Peters said...

I have eaten sushi at the china wok. It is what I would consider average - nothing special. Not bad though. Definitely a good place to get sushi if you're just looking for a quick bite.

John said...

Thanks - I'll keep that in mind. Good to know it's there if I want quick sushi. As long as it's cheap I don't terribly mind average!

Chodite said...

Speaking of sushi, I've gotta give you more sh*t about not making a right onto Honeygo Blvd when getting off at White Marsh... and checking out THE best sushi restaurant I've ever been to (I've been to sushi joints in about 10 states, LOVE the stuff) - CHOPSTIX!

Consider coming back this way and checking it out :)

John said...

So I bet you'd say to avoid China Wok for sushi then! I love sushi.