Windows on the Bay scores in food, service

$50 and Under

February 18, 1999|By David Michael Ettlin and Bonnie J. Schupp | David Michael Ettlin and Bonnie J. Schupp,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

You drive in through a boatyard -- in winter, a parking lot for the yachts of folks who clearly must be accustomed to spending more than 50 bucks for dinner.

But it was our anniversary and, given the choice of a few area restaurants, Bonnie picked Windows on the Bay. Truth be told, we could hardly see the Bay through the forest of masts outside, but we'll assume the Chesapeake was out there somewhere.

Inside, fortunately, we had all we needed: Good food and genial, efficient service.

We started with crab dip for two (market-priced at $9.95), a not-uncommon choice for us. But Windows' rendition set a new high standard in our crab-dip pantheon. Creamy, thick with crab meat, topped by Cheddar and accompanied by a mini-loaf of French bread and a dish of fresh fruit.

Blackberries, even!

Indeed, nothing we ordered that night was ordinary. Every dish had an extra touch, in the seasoning or accompaniments.

Bonnie's entree was a special for the night, imperial salmon -- a tender filet of grilled salmon topped by a generous mound of crab imperial. The $18.95 dish was accompanied by a tasty vegetable medley, and rice seasoned with garlic, white pepper and bay leaves, mixed with sauteed onion, herbs and butter, and a bit of diced tomato and scallions.

David favored steak, but one not swimming in wine. He chose a $17.95 grilled New York strip (as an Orioles fanatic, the only New York anything he admits to liking). The modest steak was graced with a topping of cognac butter, the veggie medley, and a perfectly and freshly done baked potato that had never seen aluminum foil. (David ranks aluminum foil on baked potato right up there with New York.)

The 10-ounce-or-so portion was a little closer to medium than medium rare, but tender, and trimmed to leave little fat.

We forced ourselves to sample a dessert. Not much force was needed, only the sight of the huge $4.95 pie slice with layers of cooked and uncooked chocolate mousse, topped by whipped cream. As if that were not enough, lying next to it was a dark-chocolate-coated strawberry. It was ceded to Bonnie, but in the spirit of the anniversary, she saved a nibble for the other side of the table.

Bonnie had a $3.50 glass of chardonnay, and our waitress -- hearing it was our anniversary -- brought two glasses of complimentary champagne.

While the steak fell short of medium-rare perfection, and the restaurant's interior decor somewhat ordinary, it was a fine evening. There's a romance to boats, maybe even boatyards.

A double gesture of tummy pats for executive chefs Dennis Walz and Mark Morgan, who have been operating Windows for a decade.

And we didn't really cheat on that $50-and-under stuff. We had a coupon, one entree half-price. So the tally, before tax and tip, was a mere $46.50.

David and Bonnie welcome readers' suggestions on Anne Arundel restaurants with a good meal for two, priced under $50 (before tip and taxes). Write to them at P.O. Box 1152, Pasadena 21123.

Windows on the Bay

Where: 1402 Colony Road, Pasadena. 410-255-1413.

Hours: Monday and Tuesday, 5 p.m. to 8: 30 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday, 11: 30 a.m. to 8: 30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11: 30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 10: 30 a.m. to 8: 30 p.m.

Dinner prices: Appetizers, $5.95-$14.95; entrees, $10.95-$26.95.

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express.

Rating: *** 1/2 Ratings: * culinary wasteland **** culinary heaven

Pub Date: 2/18/99

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