Meal offers too many reminders of airlines Ashley's: Delicious seafood skins appetizer were followed by a shrimp linguine with too much of a good sauce and a dud filet mignon. And the rolls were late arriving.

October 29, 1998|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

J. T. Ashley's Grille is not a bad place to grab a meal -- if you don't mind average food and slow service.

We found the restaurant almost empty early on a recent Saturday evening and were seated immediately. The decor was a clash between the Miami-style pastel walls -- salmon-pink -- and the grill-house feel of the green marble columns and faux oak tables.

The piped-in pop medley featuring The Supremes and Top 40 music created a weird feel and was a little loud.

But overall, we got a lot of feeling -- thanks in part to the dim lighting -- and the restaurant was warm and comfortable.

And our waitress started out efficient.

We began our meal with the seafood skins ($7.95), which were delicious.

The four potato skins laden with shrimp and scallops were light on cheese and an interesting variation on those normally calorie-laden potato skins stuffed with bacon and other death-hastening ingredients.

At this time, we noticed something disturbing -- all other diners, including people who had been seated after us, had baskets of rolls on their tables. So we requested rolls, and the waitress said they'd be right out.

Our entrees came with salads, which reminded us of salads served on airplanes, prepared in advance and refrigerated. But at least the lettuce was crisp.

The rolls were still nowhere in sight when our entrees arrived.

My friend had the shrimp linguine ($15.95), which was a special that night. The dish had at least 10 medium-sized shrimp, and the Maria sauce, a light, cream sauce blended with marinara, was absolutely delicious.

But there was so much sauce that the shrimp and linguine seemed to be drowning. (It would have been nice to dip bread into it, but we had no rolls. We asked for them again.)

I had the filet mignon ($17.95), which was a dud. It was a terrible cut of beef, laced with more fat than should have been there, and it came with bland mashed potatoes of a gluey consistency.

The worst part of the dish was the steamed zucchini and string beans. They were tasteless and reminded me again of airplane food.

The rolls finally came when we were halfway through our entrees -- 15 minutes after we first asked.

As I was still a little hungry from leaving almost half my plate full, I had an espresso torte ($3.50) and coffee. The torte was OK.

It had that fresh-out-of-the-fridge feel and reminded me of -- I hate to say it again -- airplane food.

J. T. Ashley's Grille

Where: Holiday Inn BWI, 890 Elkridge Landing Road, Linthicum, 410-859-8400

Hours: Dinner, 5 p.m. to 10: 30 p.m. daily. Lunch, 11 a.m. to 1: 30 p.m. daily

Prices: Appetizers, $5.95-$7.95. Entrees, $11.95-$18.95

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diners, Discover

Rating: ** 1/2

Ratings: * culinary wasteland

**** culinary heaven

Pub Date: 10/29/98

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