Peter's Inn from bikers' bar to home-cooked food with pizazz

October 22, 1993|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Restaurant Critic

Peter Denzer doesn't like it when you call his place a bikers' bar. "I like to think of myself as a motorcycle enthusiast," he says. "And I run an eclectic neighborhood tavern."

So what if there happens to be a big, shiny Harley parked on the sidewalk outside Peter's Inn? Inside, his business partner, Katy Greene Davis, is serving the soupe du jour made with fresh vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes and what she calls "herbs of Provence." (This is a very nice soup, by the way, with a flavorful broth and stoned wheat crackers on the side.)

Peter Denzer has been running his tavern for 16 years, but abouthree years ago he realized he was going to have to start serving food to compete with other places in the area.

One evening at a party he liked what he was eating so much he asked who the caterer was. Caterer? Katy Davis wanted to know. What caterer? She cooked everything herself. So Peter (no one calls him Mr. Denzer) found himself a cook, waitress and business partner; and Peter's Inn went from a bikers' bar -- sorry, eclectic neighborhood tavern -- to an eclectic neighborhood tavern-restaurant.

From the moment you walk in, you can't help but like this bar, with its beautifully redone original woodwork, warm and cozy atmosphere and soft country music in the background. Wednesday through Saturday Katy (no one calls her Mrs. Davis) comes in and cooks three meals, one of them vegetarian; a soup; and a dessert. The menu changes each week. This is home-cooked food with a little pizazz: When macaroni and cheese is on the menu, for instance, it's gourmet macaroni and cheese, with broccoli, roasted red peppers and tomatoes.

We tried the two non-vegetarian selections. The gumbo over rice balanced plump little shrimp with a deliciously spicy sausage in a jazzy tomato sauce. A boneless breast of chicken had a silky cream sauce studded with green peppercorns; it comes with wild and long-grain rice.

Whatever your choice, it's arranged on a plate overflowing with an excellent green salad and vegetables. That evening they included chunks of roasted sweet and white potatoes, a few bright green beans, a slice or two of squash and zucchini and a pretty strip of yellow pepper. On the same plate you get a slice of crisp Gorgonzola-garlic toast made with French bread.

Dessert that evening was "apple crisp ala" with fresh apples, raisins, lots of spices, citrus peel, oatmeal and brown sugar. Topped with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, it's real comfort food.

Peter's doesn't have decaffeinated coffee, so I asked for teaKaty Davis looked doubtful. "I'll see," she said. "After all, this is a bikers' bar."

Hey, now. It's hard to pull that one off when you've just been serving sun-dried tomatoes, herbs of Provence and wild rice to your customers -- and when we hadn't spotted even one tattoo in the whole place.

Peter's Inn

Where: 504 Ann St.

L Hours: 6 p.m. until the food runs out, Wednesday to Saturday

Credit cards accepted: None

Features: Eclectic food

Non-smoking section? Yes

Call: (410) 675-3746

Prices: Entrees $8

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