Pleasing bar food, and that's the point

November 28, 1996|By Laura Rottenberg | Laura Rottenberg,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Admiral Fell Inn just celebrated its renovation with a gala wingding, complete with swanky martini bar and very attractive, scantily clad actors inhabiting the guest rooms. Last year the talk of the town was the opening of the inn's fine-dining restaurant with a Southern drawl, Savannah.

A minor stir was created by the opening and closing of Admiral Fell Inn's subterranean restaurant, the Panhandle (a pancake joint billed as "the world's most unusual restaurant"), and the recent reopening of the space as the Sea Witch (serving mostly seafood).

Through it all, the Point has quietly chugged along, serving Fells Point visitors and locals a variety of competent burgers, sandwiches and omelets. The Admiral Fell Inn's most casual eatery, the Point is a nautical-themed bar and restaurant that has blended seamlessly into its surroundings for the past five years.

Anchors, ships' lamps and life buoys festoon the walls. Wide wood plank floors and a squatty rectangular bar lend the space the feel of a ship's galley. The only incongruous element is the sweaty-glass demonstration kitchen that takes me back to my cooking-school days. The glass enclosure cuts down on noise in the dining room when the kitchen staff is really jamming, but it does give the room a disconcerting in-the-fishbowl feeling.

The Point's menu is short, with half-price happy-hour drinks on weekdays and inexpensive daily specials (steamed shrimp, chicken wings, etc.). The Point is the kind of casual restaurant where you order a couple of beers and a pleasant bar snack, enjoy good conversation with friends, and never once really comment on the food. That said, there are some dishes that work better than others.

Chicken wings were not our favorite appetizer -- too much hot and vinegary sauce was slathered on slightly tough drummettes and wings -- but several other starters pleased the group. The evening's special soup -- split-pea -- was hearty, filling and, unlike the soup at many bars, didn't contain enough salt to de-ice a long driveway.

Another soup, Maryland crab, was appealing, composed of a thick tomato base speckled with shreds of crab, soft diced vegetables and a whole lot of cayenne. Chicken tenders were just that: perfectly breaded and fried tenderloins of chicken, presented with a ramekin of mild honey mustard.

The house salad that preceded our fish and chips was a large plate of the familiar lettuce/cabbage/carrot mix served with a slightly sweet, creamy blue cheese dressing. The entree brought two hefty fillets of meaty white fish, thinly battered and fried, served with soft plank-style fries and a cup of coleslaw distinguished only by its admirable use of hunks of cracked black pepper.

A chicken Caesar salad (a special that evening) proved to be more of a romaine lettuce salad in a vinaigrette, dotted with slices of chicken breast. The dressing lacked that garlic-egg-Worcestershire-anchovy zing.

Omelets and burgers seem to be the most carefully crafted dishes. The Wolfe omelet was a golden semicircle of puffy egg enfolding bacon and melted Swiss cheese (the only disappointment was the substitution of French fries for the promised home fries -- a regular substitution at dinner).

A Cajun burger, while not particularly Cajun-tasting, was cooked medium rare, as ordered, and served on a nice kaiser roll with crisp lettuce and the best this season can offer in the way of tomato.

The Point offers no dessert, so all that's left to do is finish up your conversation and drain the rest of the Guinness from your 23-ounce glass.

The Point

814 S. Broadway, in the Admiral Fell Inn

(410) 558-0929

Hours: Open daily for lunch and dinner

Credit cards: All major cards

Prices: appetizers, $1.75-$13.75; entrees, $3.75-$12.75

Pub Date: 11/28/96

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