Fireside leaves 'em cold Glen Burnie restaurant has cozy atmosphere, but food found lacking

November 20, 1997|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

Fireside Inn is a cozy place to stop by for a beer in an atmosphere where a 4-month-old perches on a table near the bar amid beer bottles and ashtrays and an elderly man warms his stockinged feet by the huge, red-brick fireplace in the middle of the restaurant.

But if you're looking for good food, go someplace else.

Three of us arrived at the Fireside Inn one recent Friday evening and were seated almost immediately. We were impressed with its quirky atmosphere -- lots of Americana tacked to the walls, huge, dark-wood booths and a terribly brave band with an over-ambitious repertoire that included Van Morrison, Guns 'n' Roses and Elton John.

The service, however, was lacking. Our waitress took more than 10 minutes to take our drink order. More than 10 minutes after that, she came back to take our food order and began by saying, "We're really backed up, so if you have to be somewhere, make a call."

The restaurant was more than half-empty, and when we asked if the delay was unusual, she shrugged and said, "I'd like to say that it is, but "

We probably would not be finished for at least 1 1/2 hours, she said. We decided to stay.

The menu was an extensive eight-pager packed with reasonably priced entrees that included sandwiches, burgers, steaks, seafood, barbecue, pasta, fajitas and bratwursts.

We began our meal with the 10-layer dip (labelled "Tex-Mex at it's Best"), $6.95, which came about a half-hour after we ordered. It was a watery mess of cheese, salsa, beans, tomatoes and way too many jalapeno peppers.

One of my companions had a small salad that was completely drenched in dressing and had "croutons" that were really bits of stale bread.

My other companion had the Maryland backfin crab cake platter (market price: $15.95), which offered two pale, good-sized crab cakes, french fries and cole slaw. The crab cakes were tasty but had too much shell in them.

The salad eater ordered the shrimp and scallops Alfredo ($13.95) but was told they were out of scallops. So he had a big meal of pasta with a huge helping of shrimp that was very tasty and well done.

My entree was not even edible. The Blackened New York Strip Steak ($13.95) sounded appetizing on the menu -- "blackened Cajun style" -- but was blackened more by burning than seasoning.

I ordered it done medium, but there was not even a hint of pink in the meat. It was like consuming a lump of coal.

The dessert menu offered a wide selection, including seven different kinds of mousse cake. The waitress, however, told us they had only the regular chocolate mousse cake.

When asked if they had sold out of the other kinds, she said, "No, we pretty much just have the chocolate mousse cake all the time."

The chocolate mousse cake ($2.95) turned out to be like the rest of the meal. The tiny slice was bland-tasting, like chocolate pudding from a box mix.

Fireside Inn

Where: 7400A Ritchie Highway, Glen Burnie, 410-761-8815

Hours: Mondays through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to midnight; Sundays noon to 11 p.m.

Prices: Appetizers, $2.50 to $8.95; entrees, $5.25 to $15.95

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Rating: *

Ratings: * culinary wasteland

**** culinary heaven

Pub Date: 11/20/97

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