Poor Richard's: a wealth of selections from bar food to crabs

RESTAURANTS

June 25, 1993|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Restaurant Critic

Poor Richard's

Where: 4 1/2 E. Pennsylvania Ave.

Hours: Dining room, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 1 p.m.-9 p.m. Sunday

Credit cards accepted: AE, MC, V

Features: Bar food, steamed crabs

Non-smoking section? Yes

Call: (410) 337-7110

Prices: Entrees, $8.95-$16.95

** 1/2

Poor Richard's menu is a wonder to behold. It lists 48 specialty sandwiches, plus the usual tuna fish and roast beef. It's impressive, but I'm not sure it's impressive enough to steal. But if you are thinking of making off with the menu, Poor Richard's asks you to please buy it instead (for a dollar).

As a restaurant critic, I was probably duty bound to read the sandwich selections all the way through before I ordered. But how many pages of cleverly named combinations and permutations of shrimp salad, cheese, "turkey bosom" and such is anyone going to be willing to sit still for?

In my case, not many. So I asked the waiter if he had any recommendations; and off the top of his head he said No. 35 was his favorite, along with No. 7 and No. 29 if we wanted roast beef and two other numbers if we wanted seafood. (Don't hold me to any of the numbers except 35, which we ordered. I didn't buy, or for that matter steal, a menu.)

No. 35 could have been a very fine club sandwich made with grilled boneless chicken breast, bacon, lettuce and tomato. Unfortunately, the kitchen forgot to toast the whole wheat bread so the sandwich was pretty mushy.

But don't think sandwiches are all you can get here. Poor Richard's is well known in Towson as a bar, but it's also a full-fledged restaurant in one dining room and a "crab emporium" in the other. And very pleasant rooms they are, for bar dining rooms. The cinder block walls of the main dining room are painted a warm brick red and decorated with colorful posters. There's some antique wood furniture, and hanging baskets of philodendra add a little greenery.

But back to the food. The kitchen isn't content with just bar food, although that's what it does best. You can get full dinners, and a blackboard lists several specials. (Not always well chosen: on a steamy night last week, the specials included beef stroganoff.)

I would stick to the bar food. A dinner of filet mignon and stuffed shrimp, a specialty of the house, wasn't worth the price of admission. We got a thin piece of beef that didn't look like the promised 6 ounces, and three shrimp covered with shredded crab and lots of thick imperial sauce. Yes, it included a vegetable and salad, but $16.95 was still too steep for what we got. The vegetable of the day was "sweet corn" -- that is, canned corn with sugar added. The house salad is good, but stay away from the house dressing, honey ranch. You could ice cakes with it.

Here's what we liked very much at Poor Richard's: First of all, the service -- friendly, helpful and attentive; various bar food like the fine spicy-vinegary buffalo wings; crisp-fried zucchini sticks; soft, warm fried mozzarella; and crunchy, deliciously greasy potato skins (we had the plain, but they come in a variety of flavors.); fresh broccoli spears cooked just long enough; and warm pecan pie for dessert.

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