Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Exit 35B: US-40 East (to Aberdeen)

Forget Route 66 (which I also traveled a lot during my years in and around San Bernardino): Route 40 is where it's at. Good Lord, how many times have I hit US Route 40 - aka Pulaski Highway, Franklin Street and Baltimore National Pike - since I started this Beltway Snacking thing? Seems like a lot, because it's everywhere, and it's served up a nice array of food: pizza and Indian groceries in Ellicott City, diner food in Catonsville, greasy onion rings in Gwynn Oak, a loose-meat "steamburger" in Rosedale, and Italian and seafood in Edgewood. And that doesn't even count Route 40 as it passes through the heart of the city. Three counties - four if you count Baltimore City - and that's only the Baltimore area. It's tough to get away from it. And yet I'm pretty sure that this sixth and final stop along Route 40 will be it for this project before I head into Middle River.

For this final stop along "America's Golden Highway" I went back to diner food. I also brought my sister along, which is something I haven't done for these Beltway Snacking trips before. Cathy is useful for this part of the project anyway, since she lived out here for a few years, so she can point me to a few places I might not have otherwise gone to.

Let's rewind a few days, though, to my trip to Philadelphia Road. I mentioned the ubiquitous Centre at Golden Ring (map), and its many fast food dining options. Going back to explore the few options aside from them I found, really, nothing. Oh sure there's the standard Chinese buffet - Grand Buffet (map), which has been there for a few years - and the standard pizzeria - Bellagio Pizzeria, which looks like it just opened (use the map for the Grand Buffet, which is a few doors down). I cannot find any information about this place - it must be that new! But apart from those places, it's pretty much all Panda Express, Mickey D's, DQ, Panera Bread, and (across the street by the Best Buy) Longhorn Steakhouse. The standard junk. Not that I've avoided the Panda Express or Panera Bread. Most everybody wants the standard junk once in a while.

A few days later Cathy and I headed out the other way, in the Aberdeen direction, not getting much farther than Middle River Road. A little strip mall (map) was riddled with places to check out - yet another pizzeria, the Middle River Pizzeria, and yet another Chinese place, the China King (formerly China Taste). The location that really caught our eye was the Shivs International Foods. Strange, I can find no information about it on the internet. While the focus up front is South Asian groceries, the farther back you go the more and more Latin American groceries you can find. A few refrigerators - not the kind at 7-Eleven, but actual refrigerators - hold everything from frozen goat and fish to frozen methi leaves and banana leaves. At least they would if they were full stocked. I eventually picked up a box mix of Butter Chicken spices, and Cathy got a few things as well.

After passing the Blue Lagoon Waterfront Saloon (map), the Blondie's Bar & Grill (map) and the Martin's Boulevard exit, we finally landed at the sleek and shiny Silver Moon Diner (map). Okay, you can use those adjectives to describe 95% of the diners in the Baltimore area, but it's fitting. It is sleek, it is shiny, and it is, well, silver. Okay, chrome.

The Silver Moon Diner has gotten some very mixed reviews from what I see on the internet - people either love it or hate it, and it ties in to both the service and the food at the time. The Sun's Karen Nitkin thought it was okay. Fortunately we got there blissfully unaware of the good-average-bad reviews. As far as our service went, we had no complaints. Our waitress was very helpful with recommendations and got the food out quickly to us. Mind you, we got there right after the lunch rush, and while the place wasn't empty it wasn't crowded either.

As far as the food went, here's what we got:

Our first course would have been fried calamari, but since they were out we went for soup instead. Cathy got the tasty Maryland crab while I got the creamy and filling shrimp bisque ($2.50 each).

We both liked the bisque better.

For our main course, we each opted for sandwiches. I got the deluxe feta cheeseburger ($6.95), which came with fries, pickle and cole slaw on the side, onion rings on top, and the typical lettuce, onions and tomato, and mayo on the side (again, I quickly moved that off my plate). As burgers go, it was one of the better diner burgers I have had, light years ahead of Double T's, about as good as Bel-Loc, almost as good as the Broadway Diner's. The feta wasn't so strong as to make me gag, as it often is, but quite subtle. And those onion rings went quickly. The cole slaw was sweet, but I couldn't finish it - the burger was just too filling. On the other end of the spectrum was the pickle, which was close to inedible.

Cathy got the Reuben sandwich ($8.25), which she found out too late was open-faced. So she ate it with a knife and fork! I believe she also got cole slaw with hers, and fries. Since we both had fries, we just shared one big plate of them. The fries were okay, not the best I have had but certainly not bad at all. As for the Reuben: it was big, greasy and intimidating, but she liked it all the same.

My eyes bugged out when Cathy ordered dessert (between $2 and $4.50), but like any good diner, Silver Moon has a very tempting array. One Boston Cream-like pie covered in fudge and peaking way up in the middle like a smoothed-over minaret was the most intimidating dessert - one piece of this will give you all the calories you need for one day. She got a much smaller piece of chocolate cake instead, which was fudgy and just plain evil.

I gave in and ordered a piece of their monster lemon meringue pie, with octopus-shaped peaks reaching out to grab you, covered in little dots of lemon meringue moisture, and with a layer of some sort of cake-like substance in between the lemon and the meringue. I could not finish half of it, and took the rest home.

In all, I have to add my voice to the chorus of those who liked the Silver Moon diner. That doesn't even include the free cookies they had sitting by the cash register at the front. A good, filling, though calorie-packing way to finish my final Beltway Snacking stop along Route 40.

Anyone else notice the cake in the middle of the sign is, um, upside-down?

Other photos:

Oh, the comments I could make! I did not buy this, by the way.

Places I visited:

Shivs International Foods Inc. (market - international / South Asian / Latin American) - 901 Middle River Road, Middle River, MD 21220; Phone: (410) 687-4354
  • Would I shop there again? Yes
  • Would I go out of my way to shop there again? Maybe
Silver Moon Diner (diner) - 9605 Pulaski Hwy, Middle River, MD 21220; Phone: (410) 682-5050
  • Would I eat there again? Yes
  • Would I go out of my way to eat there again? Probably
Places to look up later:

Bellagio Pizzeria (pizza) - 8640 Pulaski Hwy, Centre at Golden Ring, Rosedale, MD 21237; cannot find phone (please help)

Blondie's Bar & Grill (bar & pub / bar & grill) - 9611 Pulaski Hwy, Middle River, MD 21220; Phone: (410) 574-7984

Blue Lagoon Waterfront Saloon (bar & pub)- 9727 Pulaski Hwy, Middle River, MD 21220-1407, Phone: (410) 574-3200

China King (formerly China Taste) (Chinese) - 901 Middle River Road, Middle River, MD; Phone: (410) 238-2222

Grand Buffet (Chinese) - 8640 Pulaski Hwy, Centre at Golden Ring, Rosedale, MD 21237; cannot find phone (please help)

Middle River Pizzeria (pizza) - 901 Middle River Road, Suite G, Middle River, MD 21220; Phone: (410) 574-2600

Silver Moon Diner on Urbanspoon

for Silver Moon Diner


awb said...

I saw your Zack's hot dog post. You have to check out Coffman's Snack Bar at the end of Middle River Rd if you want a classic dog. The place has been there forever and the chili dogs are the greatest!

Anonymous said...

Bellagio Pizzeria (pizza) - 8640 Pulaski Hwy, Centre at Golden Ring, Rosedale, MD 21237; 410-682-5454

John said...

Thanks to both of you!

Anonymous said...

Coffman's Snackbar and its glory days are far over. Old man Coffman passed and the place is now history.

Bill Bloom said...

i agree with the August 1st comment ---stopped by on a Wednesday morning while waiting for air freight at Martins--the place is now a flippin' dive--Where's Jim? Where's Terry? Where's the love? Sucked...even my coffee didn't taste good.

Bill Bloom

Hillary Tampo, Aero said...

Well, I have to swing back out the other way to Bill. I was not impressed when I visited around the holidays this year. Jim is not there and its like what the heck is up with the horse stuff? where is the old Martin's State Airport and historic Middle River memorabilia. Jim would have never allowed it to turn into that. and the food was not great. the hotdogs will always taste the same but I have to agree with the negative reviews. Where is Terry?!And whats the sons name? he could care less about that great little place and shame on him.