Tre Con Pear Gourmet is slow going, but it's still a dream of a deli

January 21, 1994|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Restaurant Critic

Tre Con Pear Gourmet is the dream of Trisha McMullen and her mother, Connie. The two are the pair (spelled pear because we're dealing with food here) in the name of this new deli and catering business. Tre stands for Trisha and Con for Connie. The dream is lovely -- nice food, nice place, nice people -- but I wish they had a bit more hard business sense.

The place is laid-back to the max, which is great if you're not in a rush. For instance: It's not clear, if this is your first time, that you put your order in at the counter in back, not at the cash register. Don't get in line at the register just because everyone else is. Everyone else is there because that, frankly, is where the bottleneck is. Things happen very slowly.

That's about as bad as the news gets; you'll probably like everything else about the place. It's as shiny-bright as a new penny, freshly painted, contemporary and light-filled. You order at the counter, then take your tray upstairs to eat in a little dining room under a skylight.

Tre Con Pear offers traditional and not-so traditional sandwiches -- such as a chicken salad sandwich or a curry chicken sandwich. (All available in low-fat versions.) There are box lunches with a sandwich, pasta salad, cookie, fruit and juice or soda. And you can get hot specialties like Sichuan vegetables, lasagna or quiche.

Soups are a good bet. I've tried several, and they've all been above average. Soups like cream of vegetable are light and rich, made with cream, not milk thickened with flour. A heart-warming tomato Florentine soup suavely blended the flavors of tomatoes, fresh spinach and lots of Parmesan.

I loved the tarragon chicken salad, prettily arranged on romaine with a carrot curl. The salad was good, but the fresh, moist carrot spice bread that came with it was to die for. Baked goods are Tre Con Pear's strong suit -- the homemade biscuit with the tomato Florentine soup, the yellow cake with mocha meringue, the coconut-chocolate chip bars.

Sandwiches are large and deliciously goopy. Although I could have used a little less honey mustard on the European club, it was a great combination. French bread was layered with melted brie, turkey breast, crisp bacon, lettuce and tomato.

I was less entranced with a Tre Con Pear house salad, roasted vegetables sprinkled with Parmesan cheese on a mixed green salad; but I liked it a lot better when I got dressing for the greens. (The vegetables are marinated, but vinaigrette doesn't come automatically with the salad.)

A four-cheese quiche had a crust as wonderful as the rest of Tre Con Pear's baked goods, and the filling was creamy and cheesy; but it wasn't a substantial slice. You may want to supplement it with one of the salads. A combination of fresh green beans and little new potatoes in vinaigrette was excellent, a bland pasta salad with too few sun-dried tomatoes less so.

Tre Con Pear is open for breakfast, with muffins in a variety of flavors like apple spice and banana. If you want something more substantial you can get a slice of quiche, strata (a baked egg, cheese and vegetable dish), a Belgian waffle or a breakfast sandwich.

Tre Con Pear

Where: 600 N. Calvert St.

Hours: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday

Credit cards accepted: No

Features: Deli and light fare

Non-smoking section? No smoking

Call: (410) 727-1455

Prices: $2.95-$6.95

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