Food at Platters lacks magic touch

July 30, 1998|By Bonita Dvorak Formwalt | Bonita Dvorak Formwalt,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

"Do you want half?" my sister asked as she pushed her plate in my direction.

Mumbling thanks, I declined.

We were working. Once again my editor had called upon the Dvorak Girls to venture forth in search of cheap eats for two (under $50). Our motto: Free meals, no dishes to wash, we're there.

Yet seated in the boldly colorful and cheerful new Glen Burnie restaurant, Platters, we were both unexpectedly glum.

We had arrived at the restaurant for an early Saturday dinner in the weeks after the restaurant opened. Immediately, we were impressed with the bright, airy surroundings. The Americana theme was pulled together with flags, a jukebox, granny's plates and yellow stars. The restaurant has a main dining room and a smaller atrium to the side.

When we were seated, our friendly and earnest waitress appeared immediately to take our drink orders. The menu promised breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Breakfast is served all day, but we made a commitment to dinner under $50, so we passed the banana nut pancakes and went to the menu's dinner section.

In keeping with the American dining and home-cooking theme, the fare runs from crab cakes to liver and onions. Numerous chicken dishes are offered, and diners may choose how they want the meal cooked: broiled, fried, etc.

We bypassed the "igloo meatloaf," topped with mashed potatoes ($6.45), and the pork chop dinner ($8.75). My sister -- in her never-ending quest for the perfect crab cake -- elected to try the crab cake dinner (market-priced that day at $12.95) while I opted for the chicken teriyaki ($6.95). Both dinners came with choice of two vegetables and a roll.

While waiting for dinner to be prepared, we both tried an appetizer. At $1.95, the cup of cream of chicken vegetable was probably the most pleasant part of the meal. Although light on chunks of chicken, it was still flavorful. The potato skins ($4.75) were not as successful, bland even with the melted cheese and green onions.

The pacing of the meal was off, and dinner was served too quickly. The appetizers were wasted.

Served on large platters, the dinners were presented well. My chicken had pineapple slices on top, crisp french fries and a side of sliced apples. My sister's dinner offered two moderate-sized crab cakes with mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.

Moments later, we were staring at our dinners, wondering how to address the fact that, despite pleasant decor and friendly service, the food was a disappointment.

The crab cakes had little seasoning and lots of filler. Granted, this is not an upscale restaurant, and $12.95 for two crab cakes certainly is a fair price, but we both agreed one larger, moister, meatier crab cake would have been a better deal. The macaroni and cheese was certainly creamy, but the potatoes were instant, not real.

"If you're not going to serve real mashed potatoes, you shouldn't even put them on the menu," my sister said.

My chicken looked dry under its little pineapple hat. Broiling left the meat too dry for me to finish the second piece, which my sister politely declined.

You can dress up chicken -- pineapples, marinara, mesquite -- but if you scrape away the sauce and the chicken is dry, the meal is a failure. I know -- I have failed many a chicken in my culinary pursuits.

We declined dessert.

Our meal, including soft drinks, cost $30.56 before tip. The restaurant is new, and in time may work out the quirks in the kitchen, but for now I must agree with my sister:

"The taste of home cooking isn't always a good thing."

Platters

Where: 6914 Ritchie Highway, Glen Burnie; 410-760-6044

Hours: 6: 30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 6: 30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday

Prices: Appetizers, $1.95 to $5.95; entrees, $5.75 to $12.95

Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express

Rating: * 1/2

Ratings: * culinary wasteland, **** culinary heaven

Pub Date: 7/30/98

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