Peerce's Gourmet has everything from trendy coffee to home cooking


November 19, 1993|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Restaurant Critic

I have seen the future and it is Peerce's Gourmet. When people have money and time to spend and aren't worried about their waistlines or their cholesterol, they might take a leisurely drive to restaurants like Peerce's Plantation in Phoenix or Josef's Country Inn in Fallston.

But neither of them is a '90s kind of place. Peerce's Gourmet, the new cafe-market owned by restaurateurs Peerce Lake and Josef Gohring, most definitely is. There is, as you might expect, coffee. Coffee in the form of espresso and cappucino and hazelnut cream. There is multigrain health bread from Stone Mill Bakery. There is focaccia. Grilled vegetables. Pasta salad. Guacamole and tortilla chips to go.

Peerce's is not only gourmet to go but gourmet on the go, where you can start with lobster bisque, feast on shrimp, asparagus and fettuccine with a Caesar salad, end with a cappuccino and biscotti, and be in and out in an hour. No dish costs over $10.

If you decide to eat at the cafe-market, located in a Timonium office complex, you choose your meal from the deli counter. What you can't take with you to your table (such as an entree that has to be microwaved) will be brought around by the staff.

Most of the offerings are salads and sandwiches on high-class bread, but there are always several real dinners, prettily arranged and displayed in the deli case on flowery china. You'll get them, however, on flimsy paper plates; and you'll eat them with plastic forks. If I could make only one change in this very nice little restaurant, I'd have them use real plates and flatware. A dish like oysters baked with creamy spinach looked great in the case arranged with fresh basil leaves. But it arrived at our table in an ungainly heap on one side of a paper plate.

Lobster bisque is always on the menu, blush-pink, full-flavored, creamy and smooth; but the hit of the evening was the dowdy-sounding cream of celery soup. The buttery pale-green cream was spectacular.

The food here isn't all trendy, as evidenced by the cream of celery soup. A whole boneless chicken breast -- for another example -- had been fried and topped with cheese and a good marinara sauce. Peerce's doesn't call it chicken Parmesan, and it is accompanied by pesto rice rather than spaghetti. But it's basically good old home cooking.

The best of our entrees was a plate of spinach fettuccine arranged with shrimp and fresh asparagus cooked to tender crispness. All of our meals had to be sent back to be microwaved a second time because they came to the table lukewarm, but I was glad the staff takes care not to overcook the food.

Peerce's has a staggering array of desserts. We tried a gorgeous-looking eclair with a tasteless custard inside, a fine slice of moist apple cake, and bread pudding to die for. The only drawback to the last is that we needed more of its excellent bourbon sauce.

Peerce's Gourmet

Where: 9622-24 Deereco Road

Hours: Monday to Friday, 7 a.m.-8 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Credit cards accepted: AE, MC, V.

Features: Light fare

Non-smoking section? No smoking allowed

Call: (410) 561-2233

Prices: Under $10


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