At Jason's Restaurant you can't get flounder at night because owner Jason Carrington doesn't keep it on hand. After you order it, he goes across the street to the Broadway Fish Market and buys it fresh. When the market is closed, you'll have to settle for lasagna or pizza or a chicken gyro.
This doesn't look like a place that specializes in home cooking, where everything is fresh. The storefront restaurant is a labor of love, but a sort of bare-bones labor of love: very new, very clean, but not much in the way of atmosphere -- unless you consider a sound system alternating Gregorian plainchants with "Brown Eyed Girl" a kind of atmosphere.
You order from the menu on the wall, pay for your food, then wait in the dining room next door. It's brought to you by an ebullient waitress who showers you with food. A small pizza tends to turn into a large pizza; a "vegetarian salad" comes with a side of three-bean salad for no apparent reason; an order of spaghetti could feed a hungry family of four; a crab cake arrives and turns out to be two enormous cakes on a sub roll with lettuce and tomato.
You know where this restaurant belongs? Next to a college campus, where hungry students can get mountains of food for mere pennies. It's that kind of hangout. In Fells Point, which is getting to be fairly chi-chi, Jason's may have trouble finding its niche.
But if sheer hard work will make it succeed, Jason's will do fine. Owner Carrington says he's there 18 hours a day, seven days a week. He has big plans for his restaurant, but when we were there a little more than a month after it opened, the menu was pretty limited.
Some of the food was great, like lasagna fresh out of the oven, with tender noodles overflowing with ricotta and a savory meat sauce. The buttery garlic bread that came with it was made with fresh chopped garlic and had a good crunchy crust. A thin, crisp-edged pizza was loaded with tomato sauce and cheese and as much pepperoni and bright green slivers of pepper as anyone could possibly want. A chicken gyro consisted of more chunks of chicken breast than I could eat (a bit greasy, to be sure) with melted provolone, lettuce and tomato on pita.
I wasn't so thrilled with the crab cakes, which had too much filler and too much pepper; but it's hard to complain when they were practically being given away. And I personally wouldn't put strips of salami in a Greek salad. But if I could give this place just one piece of advice, it would be do something about the ice-cold plates. I couldn't bear to put my slice of pizza on them.
We could have any dessert we wanted, as long as it was apple pie, which Jason had just baked. Not bad, as long as you don't feel -- as certain members of my party did -- that dessert isn't dessert if it doesn't contain chocolate.
Where: 610 S. Broadway
Hours: Monday to Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. to midnight, Thursday to Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 3 a.m., Sunday, noon to midnight
Credit cards accepted: No
Features: Home cooking
Non-smoking section? Yes
Call: (410) 675-0575
Prices: Around $5