Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Exits 7B, 8A and 11A Revisited

Once you get past Glen Burnie and Ferndale on the Beltway, you run into the dreaded 95 Clump. Nobody calls it that. Not even I call it that. But this is an apt description for how the various interstates and state routes - the northbound parts of Maryland 295 (Exit 7B), Interstate 895 (Exit 8A) and Interstate 95 (Exit 11A) - just all kind of come together, somewhat leading to the same place. If you drive the back roads to the locations I visited off of these exits, you find that you can pretty easily get to whichever one of these major routes you want with little effort.

Exits 7B, 8A and 11A -
Section of the Beltway - the Glen Burnie (S. Baltimore City, N. Anne Arundel County) and Catonsville (S. Baltimore City, SW Baltimore County) Sections
Towns & neighborhoods along the way - Morrell Park, Violetville, Westport, Lakeland, Cherry Hill, Pigtown, Brooklyn Park, Lansdowne, Baltimore Highlands
Routes that branch off - I-95, I-895, MD-295, US-1

Places that have shut down since I last visited

The first time I did this, I never bothered to take 295 to Westport. At the time I didn't want to travel that far from 695 for food. Also, there aren't a lot of notable places in Westport, so I didn't really explore. As my journey around the Beltway continued, I was willing to drive farther and father away from the Beltway (hell, I went all the way to Harford County by the time I got to the Northeastern section of the Beltway.

One Westport location I had noted the first time I did a redux post, of places I missed the first time, was the Cajun Blu Restaurant. It no longer exists. Or maybe it's just been renamed (see below). Surprisingly, this is the only location that is missing from the first time I wrote about it. Most other places I wrote about have remained open despite the recession. That is not to say that nothing has closed - there have indeed been closings. Take the Holiday Restaurant on Hanover Street in Brooklyn Park (closest to 895). I never had visited it, but now I don't really have the choice. The same is true for a lot of the restaurants in the area that have been hit during or even before the recession.

Restaurants that have since opened

When you drive up Cherry Hill Road, you will not see a sign for Cajun Blu. But you will pass by Ambrosia Catering (map).

Though I haven't stopped in, Ambrosia apparently has one big buffet on Sunday afternoons. I'm not usually free on Sunday afternoons, but maybe you are? If so, be prepared for a massive "soulful Sunday buffet" featuring many soul food favorites - from macaroni and cheese to collard greens, fried fish to black eyed peas. It's all there on Sunday afternoons for the price of $15 ($12 for seniors, $8 for kids). At some point when I have a Sunday free, I will need to stop in. As noted, Ambrosia also caters, and they have a wide variety of dishes they serve.

Restaurants I didn't get around to the first time

In contrast, I did get to visit a few more of the eateries in and around Morrell Park, conveniently located along US-1 and right off Exit 51 off of 95 North (if taking 95 South, you will have to take Exit 50B past Caton House (renovated since I visited last time) which I did visit the first time, towards US-1 and Lansdowne. Turn left at Washington Blvd.

One place I technically did not get to the first time around was Polock Johnny's (map). I say technically because I treated it as if I had. Really though, the last time I had visited when I wrote that post was several years before. Kind of like the Georgetown Market (map), where I stopped many a time on the way home from high school for a foot long hot dog (ah, those were some late 80's/early 90's memories). But as for Polock Johnny's: I figured it was finally time to, you know, go back for real.

Polock Johnny's is a Baltimore institution. Despite the name, it does not serve Polish food. It does serve Polish hot dogs and regular hot dogs, in various combinations and lengths - their Original 5' Polish, their Large 7" Polish, their All Beef 7' Big John, and so on. You can also buy their dogs to go, from their fridge case in the front. And several of their dogs come in combos, with fries and sodas (milkshakes are more, and onion rings in place of the fries are extra). I went ahead and ordered a regular all beef hot dog with onion rings and a soda (about $6) with "the Works". Polock Johnny's famous Works consist of... er, I don't know! And I wouldn't know, since it's their own special recipe that they aren't divulging. But you can also buy tubs of "the Works" to take with you as well.

I did not dine in, but took my food home. Even after I got home half an hour later, the food was just as good for the wear: the dog was still juicy and the tangy, onion-y Works held up well to the travel. Is it any wonder people might buy tubs of this to go? I am not usually a big fan of take out fries, which is why I went with the onion rings. I found myself nibbling on these greasy delights all the way home, and about half of them were gone by the time I got there. Juicy and crunchy all at once, these are the thick onion rings you hope to find when you get take out.

Farther into Morrell Park along Washington Blvd, you head past DeSoto Road (I used to go that way to get to Gibbons sometimes, now shut down by the Archdiocese). Before you hit the old Montgomery Ward (now Montgomery Park) and the decades-gone Little Tavern, you hit the exit that takes you southbound onto I-95. Right off Exit 51 off of I-95 north is Italiano's (map), the latest in a few restaurants that have been in that location over the years (if you get off, the only way back on to 95 from there is south - remember that). I had seen Italiano's many a time in passing along 95 - it's that close - but never ventured to stop in.

The first time you visit Italiano's (they also have a drive thru) you will be greeted by a very large chef statue - maybe this is Italiano? - flanking a very snazzy counter and a nice, comfortable seating area. Mirrors and bright lights make it seem very big inside. If you eyes aren't drawn to our big fiberglass friend (he has menus, by the way), they'll probably be drawn to the big glass counter filled with Italian desserts. I might have gotten one of the desserts were it not for the dizzying array of options on the menu. This place has much of everything: pizza, pasta and stromboli, but also subs, sandwiches, Greek food, hamburgers, salads, crab cakes and other seafood dishes. I could have easily spent $20 or $30 at this place, so I showed some self-restraint and got myself a stromboli ($7.50 minus additional toppings - about $9.50 with one topping). The standard stromboli comes with tomato and cheese. I added sausage to mine. It came out 10 minutes later in a pizza box, which surprised me a bit.

When I got the stromboli home, I could see why they packaged it the way they did: it was a 12" pizza folded over, much bigger and flatter than most stromboli I've seen around town. Yes, I know this is the correct way to make them, but I haven't seen many like that lately. This stromboli was a few meals for me (eat it with tomato soup for a nice filling meal on a freezing cold day). Though I have had better stromboli recently (as recently as Glen Burnie), this one is pretty standard and I did enjoy it. The crust was a nice soft crust, perfect for dipping into tomato soup or sauce, and the sausage is in nice chunky slices, mixed in with the melted cheese and tomato sauce. If nothing else, this stromboli makes me want to go back to try what else is on their utterly humongous menu.

So, what did I miss this time?

Again, I have missed some spots, specifically in and around Brooklyn Park. I still, regrettably, have not made it to 895 Grill (map), though from the reviews I have read online its patrons love the food, the cheesesteak in particular. One spot I have never seen appears to be a Brooklyn Park institution - the Castle Restaurant (map).
Then again, I cannot find anything about it. I know of no one that has eaten here. Urbanspoon doesn't even know about, and the City Paper has asked readers for more information. No cars were in the lot (granted, the info I found online says it opens at 4PM), but there was a big "OPEN" sign above the door.

Look! It's, um... open?

So if anyone has any info about the Castle Restaurant, please pass it along here. Or to someone!

Places I got back to

Italiano's (Italian/American/Greek/seafood) -
2229 Washington Blvd., Baltimore, MD 21230; Phone: (410) 468-3377
  • Would I eat there again? Yes
  • Would I go out of my way to eat there again? Perhaps
Polock Johnny's (hot dogs/fast food) - 3212 Washington Blvd., Baltimore, MD 21230; Phone: (410) 644-5997
  • Would I eat there again? I have and I would
  • Would I go out of my way to eat there again? Yes
A few places to look up later

895 Grill and Carry-Out - 101 Chesapeake Ave, Brooklyn, MD 21225; Phone: (410) 354-1968

Ambrosia Catering (catering/African-American/brunch) -
1810 Cherry Hill Rd., Baltimore, MD 21230; Phone: (410) 837-8701

The Castle Restaurant
(I have no idea) - 3720 Potee St, Brooklyn Park, MD 21225; Phone: (410) 355-8300

Georgetown Deli (deli/fast food/grill/corner store) - 2829 Georgetown Road, Baltimore, MD 21230; Phone: (410) 644-7040 ‎


Jamaila said...

I think the new Wal-Mart complex in Lansdowne along Washington Boulevard was completed after you did your first beltway circuit. There is rumored to be a hibachi place in there, but I haven't developed the nerve to try it yet.

John said...

Yes it was, but I'm saving the Three Brothers and Hibachi place and those new spots in Arbutus for my post about Exits 9 and 10.

chwi said...

As of Feb4@9pm, the phone number for the Castle is disconnected.

Has it been disconnected longer?

I am absolutely sure.

Seems the choice between the Renaissance Fayre and Medeval Tymes in ye olde Anne Arundel County crowded out the competition.

John said...

Hmmm... That explains a bit about the Castle Restaurant. Looks like I won't be eating there after all.

Christine Liu said...

Hi there! Castle restaurant is indeed on Urbanspoon. And someone has helpfully uploaded scans of the menu:

Cheers & happy spooning, Christine {at} urbanspoon {dot} com