Cross Keys' Village Roost good for breakfast and for business

RESTAURANTS

June 18, 1993|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Restaurant Critic

The Village Roost

Where: Cross Keys Inn, Village of Cross Keys

Hours: Breakfast served 7 a.m.-11 a.m. weekdays, 7 a.m.-noon weekends

Credit cards accepted: Major credit cards

Features: Power breakfast

Non-smoking section? Yes

Call: (410) 435-0101

Prices: $2-$9.95

*** People have been power breakfasting at the Cross Keys Inn's Village Roost for as long as I can remember. The location is convenient -- right off the Jones Falls Expressway -- and you never have to worry about parking. Seats are comfortable, the service is good, the dining rooms are reasonably quiet, and the tables are large enough to spread out your papers for a working breakfast.

The Roost has been around for so long you'd think there would be someplace else more fashionable to meet. But no, the coffee shop was packed with business people at 8:30 on a Tuesday morning. Every table was taken -- only a few by people who looked like hotel guests.

The Village Roost rises to the occasion with a menu more extensive than its dinner offerings. You can have "Fitness Cuisine," such as a southwestern tomato omelet made with Egg Beaters filled with chopped tomato, Monterey Jack and fresh cilantro. You can get the Power Shake with orange juice, yogurt, honey, wheat germ and banana. Or you can forget about low fat and cholesterol and indulge in steak and eggs, five different kinds of pancakes (from buckwheat to pecan) or a Belgian waffle, which did look great topped with fresh strawberries and banana slices.

The Roost makes a good French toast with thick slices of cinnamon raisin bread. True, the bacon with it was limp; but the waitress didn't bat an eye when my friend sent it back to the kitchen. It came back almost immediately, microwaved to crispness.

The menu promises "creamery butter," but you get Promise Spread unless you ask for butter specifically. The kitchen, however, figures you've thrown caution to the wind if you order eggs Benedict, so the poached eggs, Canadian bacon and English muffins are smothered in an ocean of hollandaise (good hollandaise, to be sure). Plus you get home fries on the side.

Eggs are cooked to order -- scrambled eggs requested "very soft" actually were soft scrambled; and the Roost serves fat, not-too-greasy sausages with them. The coffee is hot and fresh, and the orange juice, while not freshly squeezed, is a cut above the usual frozen.

All in all, the Village Roost serves a nice old-fashioned breakfast. But the toast ought to be brought up to date. With all the good breads around these days, they serve limp, store-bought white bread toast.

So after all these years, the Cross Keys coffee shop is still the place for a decent breakfast and an early business meeting. But I should warn you that there are hazards to power breakfasting: As he walked by our booth, a businessman dropped his briefcase on my husband's foot.

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