A pleasant surprise for fussy eaters

January 25, 1996|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,SUN RESTAURANT CRITIC

I had a hard time getting my faithful companions -- I'll call them the Paranoid Suburbanite, the Elitist Semi-Vegetarian ("Fois gras isn't really meat, is it?") and the Terminal Chocoholic -- to go to a restaurant called the Surfin' Bull with me.

This was the end of Blizzard Week, just when things were getting back to normal, and what I felt we needed was a nice, homey place with comfort food. The new Surfin' Bull over Andy's Tavern in Canton seemed like just the ticket.

"We'll never get a parking space in the city," the Paranoid Suburbanite had whined, "And if we do, we'll get stuck in the snow."

We did get a parking place, and co-owner Hugo Eraso (maitre d', waiter and live entertainment) promised to help dig us out if we got stuck. "I've been doing it all day," he said as he led us to a table in the pretty little dining room.

"Pit beef sandwiches and crab soup," the Elitist Semi-Vegetarian had groaned.

Yes, but the pit beef sandwich turned out to be a tender New York strip steak on a warm, crusty roll. The flavorful crab soup (a bit short on crab, that's true) was made by Elsa, mother of Hugo and chef Homero Eraso. "She's also the saucier," Hugo explained.

The rockfish with kiwi and cilantro sauce wasn't available that evening; but if she was responsible for the delicate butter sauce sparked with garlic and parsley that graced the large shrimp, I say bravo.

The regular house salad wasn't very interesting -- too much iceberg and too many winter tomatoes; but the Caesar salad was beautiful, with fresh, crisp romaine and a delicious dressing, artistically arranged with croutons in a flat white bowl.

The rest of Surfin' Bull's menu consists of grilled foods, sandwiches and pastas. Pasta with red sauce doesn't sound exciting; but the al dente fettucini was homemade, and the homemade marinara was full of shrimp.

Steaks are well-trimmed and flavorful here, but thumbs down on the canned corn and undercooked baked potato that came with our New York strip.

"Bars never have anything good for dessert," the Terminal Chocoholic had complained.

He had a hard time choosing: Should it be the double fudge chocolate cake, the chocolate turtle cheesecake or the chocolate mousse pie? And if none of those was enough for him, a bowl of chocolate chips came with coffee.

While we were drinking our coffee and eating our chocolate chips, Mr. Eraso started to play his guitar and sing Latino torch songs; and his son brought around a bowl of chocolate mints. Life was good.

Surfin' Bull

2821 O'Donnell St.

(410) 675-9155

Hours: Open Tuesday and Wednesday 4 p.m.-10 p.m., Thursday noon-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday noon-11 p.m., Sunday noon-9 p.m.

Credit cards: D, MC, V

Prices: $5-$16.95

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