Trek-flecked Sector 8 has simple sandwiches and a lovely garden

June 24, 1994|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,Sun Restaurant Critic

Does any restaurant in Baltimore not serve cappuccino these days? Maybe not a White Tower, but that's about it. So why is everyone opening up espresso bars at a rate faster than I can get to them? The latest is a wacky little offering called Sector 8, named after the owner's band.

Now I think we can safely say that no place named after the owner's band is going to serve great food. But surprise. Sector 8 serves decent food. Owner Curtis Pozell has wisely kept the menu very, very simple. In spite of the "Star Trek" and "Next Gen" influences, so that dishes have names like tuna lunar and galactic pasta salad, we're basically talking ham and cheese sandwiches, tuna salad and nachos. That's about the most the kitchen can handle, which is fine.

I probably wouldn't even be writing about Sector 8 if it weren't for the walled garden and deck in back, unexpected and charming. The two levels are brick and weathered wood, with pretty plantings, flowers and hanging baskets.

I love eating outside anyway, but the night we were there it was a necessity: Sector 8 had no air conditioning. The problem is that there are only three outdoor tables. Maybe you can call and reserve one.

Anyway, it was such a nice evening and the garden was so pleasant you could have fed me anything and I would have been happy. Well, I do think they could do better for the assorted vegetables plate than a few carrot and celery sticks, fewer cucumber rounds and winter-pale tomato chunks with blue cheese dressing. But Sector 8's hot, salty nachos were dripping with melted cheese and served with salsa, sour cream and guacamole. The hot wings were hot -- hotter than I can take them, but I'm a sissy. The soup of the day, clam chowder, may have been canned, but at least it was thinned enough with milk.

A Sector 8 salad with romaine, cucumber, black olives and tomatoes was loaded with feta cheese. Galactic pasta salad featured lots of tri-color fusilli in vinaigrette with nice big shrimp on top. A good chicken sandwich, a special that evening, was simply a freshly poached boneless chicken breast -- still warm -- on a soft roll, with parmesan pepper dressing on the side. It was better than the solar power sandwich, which had romaine, sprouts, cucumber, tomato and dill havarti, only because of the solar power's bread, a soft wheat.

For dessert, have cappuccino and biscotti or the peanut butter chocolate pie. The latter seems to be Baltimore's latest trendy dessert, now available almost everywhere. But this one, from Happy Endings, was one of the best I've had.

Sector 8 is more than a cafe, by the way. It's also an arts and crafts gallery and a place where poetry readings are held. There's even live music some evenings, and free sci-fi movies are shown several nights a week. Look for the events calendar just inside the front door.

Sector 8

Where: 3 W. Biddle St.

Hours: Monday to Thursday 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Friday 11:30 a.m.-midnight, Saturday 10 a.m.-midnight, Sunday 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

Credit cards accepted: No

Features: Sandwiches, salads

Non-smoking section? Yes

Call: (410) 727-4716

Prices: $3.50-$6.50

** 1/2

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