Heavenly Food And - For The Lucky - View At Windows Enjoy A Light, Creative Dinner By Rock Creek


October 28, 1990|By Joan Whitson Wallace

Ask me what I have against Windows on the Bay. Go ahead, ask me.

I'll tell you what I have against the restaurant: I didn't get a table by the window.

Windows on the Bay, a Pasadena restaurant located on Rock Creek, has a spectacular view of Bethlehem Steel on Sparrows Point. No, I'm not trying to be funny. Bethlehem Steel at night is a truly beautiful sight. I could even see the steel plant from my table in the middle of the room.

The restaurant has a huge window, uncluttered by drapes or shades, so diners get an unobstructed view of the creek, the Bay and Sparrows Point.

Windows also has other things going for it besides the view. The food is noteworthy too.

The menu is innovative and "light." The New York strip and grilled sirloin were the only two red meats on the menu. The other offerings were seafood, veal, chicken and pasta.

Our party of four dined Saturday evening without reservations. Quite a few tables were still available, but none by the windows. We started with appetizers, ordering barbecue oysters ($5.95), the "Ultimate Sampler" ($10.95) and one house salad ($1.95).

The oysters were wrapped with bacon and topped with Monterey Jack cheese and barbecue sauce. This was a very tasty treatment of oysters.

The sampler was an appetizer large enough to serve all four diners. The large platter came heaped with shaved onion rings resembling curly gift-wrap bows. The onion rings were a generous garnish to a combination of barbecue oysters, spiced shrimp, mini-crab cakes and Cajun chicken tenderloins.

The house salad proved to be large, green and crispy with large croutons, tomato slices, cucumbers and purple onion. The Window's House dressing was a peppercorn ranch, a thick and flavorful accent.

Hubby and I ordered from the regular menu, while our guests, Fred and Pat, sampled two of the evening's many specials. Fred chose the red snapper stuffed with crab meat ($16.50), while Pat challenged her taste buds with blackened fish ($14.25).

Hubby tried surf and turf with a new twist -- grilled sirloin with stuffed shrimp ($14.95). The shrimp were stuffed with bacon, Monterey Jack cheese and jalapeno peppers, which added just enough heat to make the dish interesting but not heavy-handed. The meat, two 4-ounce sirloin medallions, was tender and cooked to his specifications.

I debated between grilled Atlantic tuna, stuffed veal or Norwegian salmon. I finally settled on the grilled Norwegian salmon with lemon butter sauce and fresh vegetables ($14.50).

Our entrees were accompanied by warm, fresh bread. We had a choice of baked potato, rice pilaf or fresh-cut fries. Hubby went for the fries while the rest of us had baked potatoes.

As you may have gathered by now, I think the potato is one of nature's most perfect foods. My baked potato was in the divine category. The outside had been brushed with butter or oil and baked to heavenly perfection.

The potato was not the huge, Idaho variety, but a nice medium size. I ordered just sour cream. The others wanted sour cream and butter, and their potatoes came topped with both, instead of being offered on the side. The fresh-cut fries were winners in Hubby's book.

When Pat tasted her blackened fish, the first words out of her mouth were, "I'm coming back here again."

Fred was equally pleased with his stuffed red snapper. He also tasted my Norwegian salmon and changed his mind about salmon. The only other time he had eaten fresh salmon was in "Twin Peaks" in Washington state. He preferred the Norwegian salmon.

The entrees were served with fresh sauteed vegetables.

Karen, our waitress, was very appealing, taking away our dishes as soon as we emptied them, but not rushing to bring the check. She served coffee before she brought a chilled tray of desserts for our viewing pleasure.

I say viewing pleasure because we were too full to partake, although the frosted martini glass full of fresh raspberries did look tempting.

I was a little apprehensive when we were shown to the table and asked whether we needed an ashtray, rather than if we wanted seats in the smoking or non-smoking sections. But amazingly enough, we were not bothered by smoke.

Dennis G. Walz and Mark J. Morgan own Windows on the Bay. They also happen to be the chefs: both are graduates of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. And while neither is over 30, they claim to have over 30 years combined experience in the food business.

Windows opened in May after 14 months of extensive refurbishment, including installation of the aforementioned windows. The restaurant is located at the site of the old Galley Restaurant on Rock Creek, in the White Rocks Marina.

Walz says they tried to create a basic menu with broad appeal, yet diversity. They depend on the daily specials to allow them to be creative and innovative, and to introduce more seafood to the restaurant's offerings. This enables them to buy fresh seafood daily and adapt to its changing availability.

The restaurant is accessible to the disabled. The menu offers a small selection of moderately priced wine: white, blush, red, and sparkling.

Mixed drinks are available from the bar. There is no children's menu.

Windows on the Bay has an abbreviated lunch menu of appetizers, salads and sandwiches. Lunch hours are 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays.

Windows on the Bay, 1402 Colony Road in Pasadena, is open for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday. On Friday and Saturday dinner is served 5 to 11 p.m. Sunday brunch is available from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The light fare menu is available between lunch and dinner hours every day. Windows is closed on Mondays.

Information: 255-1413.

NOTE: Boat mooring is available for diners arriving via the water.

Joan Whitson Wallace, a free-lance writer, lives in Severn. She has written about food for a number of publications, and is working on a cookbook, "Mom Taught Me How to Cook."

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