Hungry for good bar food? Dismount at the Mount Vernon Stable

RESTAURANTS

December 18, 1992|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Restaurant Critic

Mount Vernon Stable and Saloon has bar food, and if you're expecting anything grander you'll be disappointed. But it's bar food par excellence, a dizzying selection of munchies, ribs, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, Tex-Mex and pastas -- with little touches that can make a big difference.

Take the french onion soup. It has the requisite french bread and cheese, no surprises there, but the rich broth tastes like homemade chicken stock. Or the fact that sandwiches are served with nacho chips and salsa, a nice change. Or the half a Caesar salad (it's hard to imagine how big a whole one is): nothing fancy, just fresh romaine, homemade croutons, homemade dressing, lots of Parmesan and your choice of anchovies or no.

With a menu like the Mount Vernon Stable's, which contains everything but the kitchen sink, it's hard to choose a representative meal; but the ribs come as close as any. They're baby back ribs, baked slowly so they remain meaty and juicy. The sauce is an integral part of them, not a thick coating on top, and has lots of character -- although it's a little too sweet for greatness.

With the ribs come crisp, skinny french fries, a great heap of them, the skins still on. You can have applesauce or fresh coleslaw, and you're supposed to get a muffin, too. (We ended up with a soft roll for some reason.)

The only fault I could find with this soul-satisfying platter -- other than the missing muffin -- was that the ribs weren't quite hot enough. They must have sat waiting for the combination fajitas, which have to be cooked at the last minute. It's not a complicated dish, but Mount Vernon does it right, the beef and chicken marinated in a spicy, tangy sauce, served with lots of grilled onions and green peppers and accompanied by soft tortillas, guacamole, salsa and sour cream.

Speaking of tangy sauces, the buffalo wings have one that's satisfyingly spicy as well. Enough so that the celery and blue cheese dressing offer a welcome contrast.

The Mount Vernon Stable has 18 different sandwiches, not counting burgers; we tried the Ciao Down -- get it? -- which was basically chicken Parmesan on a kaiser roll. It had boneless breast of chicken, fried. It had marinara sauce. It had mozzarella. OK, but I'd stick to the ribs or fajitas.

You don't expect notable desserts at a bar, but Mount Vernon has them and every one we tried was good: a lusciously moist carrot cake, a spicy, light pumpkin cheesecake and a double chocolate, or maybe it was triple chocolate, mousse cake.

In spite of the fact that the food was good, as was the service, I wouldn't recommend the Mount Vernon Stable and Saloon for everyone. Keep in mind that it is a bar -- with the crowd noise, music and non-stop smoking you expect at a bar.

Mount Vernon Stable and Saloon

Where: 909 N. Charles St.

Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to midnight.

Credit cards accepted: Major credit cards.

Features: Casual American.

Non-smoking section? Yes.

Call: (410) 685-7427.

Price range: First courses, $1.95-5.95; main courses, $3.95- $14.50.

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