Set sail for Mexican fare with Mr. Beveridge

April 08, 1999|By Kathryn Higham | Kathryn Higham,Special to the Sun

People come to Mr. Beveridge's Midtown Yacht Club to eat plates of plump steamed shrimp and to crack open free peanuts and toss the shells on the floor. Owners Trish and Nathan Beveridge didn't change the long-standing peanut tradition when they bought the 15-year-old bar a year ago.

They did renovate and add wooden-boat models and antique-style signs to give the place a sailors pub feel. That's something the bar never had, despite its name. The biggest change took place recently when the menu cruised south of the border. Mexican fare is the forte of chef Drew Ridgley, formerly of Holy Frijoles. Now, quesadillas and burritos share billing with barroom regulars like burgers and wings.

Steamed shrimp are still the standout, though. They are everything you hope for -- fat, spicy, steamed to perfection. What makes them so special is the unusual blend of spices that goes into the cooking pot. Whole cloves, juniper berries and coriander seeds are tossed into the "Old Bay"-type blend, giving the shrimp an exotic flavor that is spicy hot and sweetly fragrant at the same time.

The shrimp salad sandwich follows suit, made with the same large, tender shrimp, cut into big chunks. The shrimp is tossed with tiny bits of celery, a judicious amount of mayonnaise and enough spices to give it a nice kick.

Crispy, tangy buffalo wings get the classic treatment at the Yacht Club, paired as usual with chunky blue-cheese dressing and celery sticks. For something different, there are fried taquitos (rolled-up corn tortillas filled with grilled vegetables, beans or meat), flautas (stuffed flour tortillas) and several different kinds of nachos.

To judge from the chicken fajitas we tried, Mexican dishes are a good bet here. Slices of moist chicken breast have a smoky grilled taste, presented on a hot fajita skillet with bell peppers and onions. There's grated Cheddar, shredded lettuce and sour cream to wrap up with the chicken in flour tortillas, but no guacamole.

Burgers are big, hand-formed patties with good flavor, though not quite as juicy as one might like. They're served on fresh kaiser rolls with potato chips. A T-bone steak special is impressive, with wonderful char-grilled flavor and buttery texture. It arrives on an oversized bistro plate with a pile of skinny hand-cut fries -- greasy but good -- and a side salad of fresh baby greens.

As for dessert, you'll have to look elsewhere. This is a bar, after all. That presents its own set of problems. Table service can be slow, and the cigarette smoke can get mighty thick, especially when the after-work crowd streams in. Add an extra half star to the atmosphere, if you can stand the haze.

Mr. Beveridge's

Midtown Yacht Club

15 E. Centre St.

410-837-1300

Hours: Open daily for lunch and dinner, with brunch on Sundays.

Credit cards: All major cards

Prices: Appetizers, $2.25-$7.95;

entrees, $4.95-$10.95

Food: **1/2

Service: **

Atmosphere: **

Ratings system: Outstanding:

****; Good ***; Fair or uneven **; Poor *

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