Sly Horse gives bumpy ride Too-tart Key lime pie, lengthy waits make for a disappointing lunch

October 23, 1997|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

Is this appealing to you? Waiting 15 minutes for a table in a dark Crofton restaurant, waiting another half-hour to get served lunch with pork after asking for a vegetarian choice, then receiving a dessert tart enough to pucker your lips?

If so, rush to the Sly Horse Tavern in Crofton's Village Green. That's what a colleague and I did for lunch, and what a disaster.

We walked into the small, wood-paneled restaurant. The server asked the couple ahead of us, "Smoking or nonsmoking?" They chose non-smoking and were seated in that section, but when the same server got to us, he immediately seated us in the smoking area.

When we said we wanted nonsmoking, he huffed a little sigh of resignation and told us we could sit at the bar until a nonsmoking-area table was cleared. That took a quarter-hour. Halfway through the wait, we took a stroll through nonsmoking and spotted several free tables.

We had a friendly waitress named Allison, who was a bright spot of our ordeal. She pointed out as a vegetarian choice the red bean and jasmine rice soup, which we both ordered, along with the "Baltimore's Best" House Salad for me and a grilled chicken sandwich for my colleague.

We waited a half-hour for that simple order.

I was enjoying the soup, until I bit into a pink cube of ham.

The waitress took it back, saying she was "just informed" that the bean and rice soup contained meat. She assured me that the French onion soup was vegetarian. But one of her cohorts came around to our table to say that all the soups were made with chicken or beef stock. Then she pointed out that other vegetarian customers don't care about eating nonvegetarian broth.

The rest of the meal was not worth the wait. The salad was a basic mixture of raw carrots, zucchini, red onion and romaine lettuce, hard-boiled eggs and a tasty dressing with Parmesan cheese. My companion's sandwich had no more flair than a Wendy's chicken sandwich.

The final insult was my dessert, a piece of Key lime pie. It tasted at once sour, bland and gritty, as if someone took packages of lime Kool-Aid, mixed it with vanilla pudding, poured it into a graham cracker crust and sprayed it with Kool Whip. No meringue, no melt-in-your-mouth filling, no flaky crust.

To be fair, I sought my colleague's opinion.

Her reaction? "That's not Key lime pie, that's key LIME pie!" I sent it back for a piece of cheesecake topped with what Allison alleged was "raspberry melba." It looked like jelly.

My companion fared better with a tasty brownie topped with ice cream and Bailey's Irish cream.

The whole experience took about two hours of sitting in a booth under a dirty ceiling near a disconnected light fixture dripping blue and red wires.

If you're looking for a quick, lively lunch, skip the Sly Horse Tavern.

Sly Horse Tavern

Where: 1678 Village Green, Crofton 410-721-4550

Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11: 30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11: 30 a.m.-11 p.m.; and Sunday, 11: 30 a.m.-9: 30 p.m.

Prices: Soups and side orders, under $5; salads, specialties and sandwiches, $4.50 to $8.95

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express Handicapped access: Restaurant requires advance notice to put up a portable ramp.

Rating: * 1/2

Ratings: * culinary wasteland

**** culinary heaven

Pub Date: 10/23/97

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