Try funky little Morning Edition for great evening meals, too

May 06, 1994|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Large Sun Restaurant Critic

Morning Edition, a funky little restaurant in Butcher's Hill, is known for its breakfasts; but I'd been hearing good things about dinner there, so I decided to give it a try.

There were a few problems.

First of all, nobody else was eating there, which always makes me a little nervous. (OK, two other tables were filled over the course of the evening.)

And then the setting. Morning Edition would be a charming antique and "junque shoppe," with all its clutter and memorabilia: old Coca-Cola signs, a bit of neon rainbow, collectibles, faded mismatched furniture, dried grapevine entwined with fairy lights. a place to eat, it doesn't quite work. I wouldn't mind if they cleared it out some and slapped a fresh coat of paint on the chairs. The dried grapevine tendrils kept getting in my hair.

Then there was our table, which rocked violently every time we leaned on it.

And the menu, which is as hard to read as a Dickens novel and has less plot.

And the classical radio station, which was fine when the music was playing and not so fine during the commercial breaks.

And the exhaust fan in the ladies room that sucks you right up into the ceiling.

But on the other hand, this is some of the best food I've had at these prices in quite a while. Oh, you can spend as much as $17 if you want Grand Marnier shrimp, but my guess is that most people have the vegetarian dishes for under $10 or the chicken or burgers.

The food not only tastes good, it's prettily presented. Lasagna can be slopped on a plate or it can be arranged carefully -- as Morning Edition's kitchen does -- so that a green sprinkling of chopped parsley contrasts appetizingly with the red sauce and white pasta. That garlicky sauce was excellent: full of meat, fresh mushrooms and tomatoes. The pasta was tender, and cheese melted deliciously into the nooks and crannies.

A special of the evening had superbly fresh scallops and tender spring asparagus in a light citrus sauce (supposedly made of Mineola oranges, but those tasted like grapefruit segments to me).

Thai sate isn't for the faint-hearted: The peanut and coconut milk sauce packs a fiery wallop. It's tossed with tender-crisp vegetables arranged over Asian noodles.

Dinners come with small raw vegetable salads, very fresh. Get the garlic vinaigrette dressing with them.

First courses are limited, but there are always a couple of specials and soups. A light cream of asparagus puree was smooth, fresh-tasting and piping hot. Tabouli salad (mostly couscous, chopped parsley and red pepper in vinaigrette) would be a refreshing starter if you didn't feel like an ordinary salad. Only a vegetarian pate disappointed us a bit -- the crust was a little soggy, as if the pate had been around too long.

The closest Morning Edition comes to a light dessert is the Montgomery pie, with a lemon filling under a cake layer, all baked in a crust. The closest it comes to a really outrageous dessert is the Killer Cake. Need I tell you what flavor it is? Too bad that the kitchen, which had done so beautifully up until then, covered them with whipped topping instead of real whipped cream.

Morning Edition

Where: 153 N. Patterson Park Ave.

Hours: Open Thursday to Sunday, hours vary. Call for specific information.

Credit cards accepted: MC, V

Features: Eclectic

Non-smoking section? yes

Call: (410) 732-5133

Prices: $6-$17

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