Headed off to my nephew's wedding. In the meantime, here's a few quickie restaurant reviews to hold you over until I return.
9942 York Road, Cockeysville, MD 410-666-8722
I live right down the road from The Corner Stable (situated on the corner of Church and York Roads) and have driven past it probably once a week for the past five years. But it wasn't until we were in need of a place to eat on a Sunday night that we decided to give the Stable a try.
Renowned for their Baby Back Ribs, it should come as no surprise that a place named The Corner Stable sports an almost overwhelming horse racing motif. Frankly, I never made the Maryland and horse racing connection much before I moved here, but now I understand.
I definitely wanted to try their house special ribs, but I've been jonesing for some good chicken – be it barbecue or fried – for months now. Luckily, the menu features a Ribs & Chicken dinner for $18.95 complete with a large barbecued breast of chicken (you can get it broasted, too) and a half rack of their famous ribs. Personally, I prefer the meatier ribs served up the street at Andy Nelson's but the ribs at The Corner Stable were definitely fall of the bone moist and tender. My biggest complaint about the place would be that my dinner came served on a large sheet of wax paper or something like it, stuffed into a plastic basket. This would be fine if I was having a burger or sandwich like my dinner companions, but trying to cut the chicken without coming away with forkfuls of paper proved difficult. Yuengling Lager on tap, good service, decent prices and the rest of our party raved about the burgers. I haven't been back yet but I'm happy to add The Corner Stable to our list of "go to" area eateries.
9th & Bay in Bay Village, Beach Haven, NJ 609-492-6100
Located not far from my in-laws' place on LBI, Bistro 14 is another restaurant I've been past a hundred times without patronizing. During a recent visit to the island we got to try the restaurant, and I have to say that it was one of the most pleasantly surprising dining experiences I've had in some time.
I'm not sure why I was so pleasantly surprised, but it may have had something to do with what I perceived as a somewhat limited dinner menu. Don't get me wrong, I'm usually turned off by places whose menu takes up more than two pages, but Bistro 14's offerings seemed almost too limited for my liking. All I know is that if they do everything as well as the few things I had that night, I'll never be disappointed.
First up was an appetizer of Fried Calamari featuring lightly dusted rings of tender, hot squid. Calamari is one of those hit or miss appetizers for me... it can be really good, like this, or over-battered and fried to the point where all you taste is breading. This was top notch.
As for my entree, I followed my father-in-law's advice and went with the Mahi Mahi featuring one of their signature preparations – panfried with a creme fraiche & red onion crust. The cut was thick and perfect, the tasty crust providing just the right amount of texture alongside the firm, moist fish. Another pleasant surprise was their homemade fries, thin cut and perfectly seasoned with salt and garlic. It's pretty rare that I find myself commenting on the quality of a restaurant's fries, but both Chris and I were blown away by this perfectly seasoned accompaniment to our meal.