Terrific service, tasty food, privacy Clark's Bayside Inn has much to offer

$50 and Under

November 27, 1997|By David Michael Ettlin and Bonnie J. Schupp | David Michael Ettlin and Bonnie J. Schupp,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The setting was romantic: a virtually private dining room, dim lighting, a raging storm outside our window, and the surf pounding against the sea wall and pier a few feet away.

That was our introduction to Clark's Bayside Inn, where a cold, gray November night was considerably warmed by a filling, modestly priced meal and terrific service. (Of course, service should be terrific when -- as we were that night -- you're the only customers.)

In 16 years of living in Pasadena, we had not set foot in Clark's -- formerly known as Antonio's on the Bay. But we should have. It's the kind of place we like in the $50-and-under quest -- unpretentious.

As a matter of fact, you could see the Keno machine in the bar section from our table.

But we preferred the dramatic view afforded by our window seat.

From the modest but diverse menu, Bonnie started with a cup of Maryland crab soup ($2.25), which was not overly spicy and had a good mix of vegetables and beef, along with a bit of crab and the traditional claw. (Clark's also offers cream of crab at $2.95.)

David ordered an appetizer of white pizza bread with sauce ($3.95) -- a sub roll baked with a thick layer of mozzarella and a dusting of oregano, and a dish of tomato sauce on the side.

The place is big on crab, and dishes with the state's top crustacean (including crab imperial and grilled chicken breast with crab meat) were tempting, but Bonnie ordered a steamed shrimp special ($10.95), which included nine large ones steamed in Old Bay seasoning and served with onions.

David continued his Italian kick with a generous portion of chicken parmigiana ($11.95) with salad, and, like Bonnie, a double-baked stuffed potato.

The rolls were very fresh.

Our waitress, Brenda Reimer (who claimed to be Clark's best, but hey -- she was the only one working in the otherwise empty dining room) made several unobtrusive table-side visits to assure our contentment, and refill the water and coffee.

From dessert offerings that include homemade apple dumplings sampled the cheesecake and carrot cake -- both right on!

All that, plus two glasses of chardonnay, produced a bill of $37.50. Not bad.

Clark and Ellen Elliott have owned Clark's for all but three of its nearly 20 years.

Antonio was an uncle of Clark Elliott, who was in the restaurant business in Washington and "was quite an influence on me," Clark says.

But not enough to keep his name on the place. After leaving the business during a three-year hiatus, the Elliotts reacquired the restaurant and changed the name.

"I wanted to get my name up in lights," the 61-year-old owner jokes.

It truly is a family business. Son George, 38, who attended Baltimore International Culinary College and formerly cooked at Cross Keys, is the chef.

Today would be a good day to check it out -- at least if you're not otherwise occupied in a more traditional family Thanksgiving, and all the seatings have not been booked.

Clark's is serving a Thanksgiving buffet for $10.95 ($4.95 for children under 12).

On ordinary weekdays, Clark's offers an early-bird special from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. that includes a choice from nine entrees, a cup of soup, two vegetables, rolls and dessert for $5.95.

Clark's is on a winding 2.3 miles off Fort Smallwood Road, down Bayside Beach Road and Alpine Beach Road, on the water near the mouth of the Patapsco River. It's worth the trip.

Editor's note: Once a month, David and Bonnie explore Anne Arundel County eateries in search of a good meal for two, priced under $50 (before tip and taxes).

Clark's Bayside Inn

Where: 2042 Knoll View Drive, Pasadena; 410-437-5711

Hours: Noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday; noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Prices: Appetizers, $2.25-$8.50; entrees, $9.95-$19.95

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diner's Club, Discover

Rating: *** 1/2

Ratings: * culinary wasteland

**** culinary heaven

Pub Date: 11/27/97

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