Taking the bad with the good at Glorie's

April 15, 1999|By Kathryn Higham | Kathryn Higham,Special to the Sun

Glorie's Place, with its flouncy curtains, knickknacks on the windowsills and bright, spotless dining rooms, is the kind of place that makes you feel as though you're eating in someone's home.

Karen Connelly bought the Essex restaurant two years ago from the previous owners and kept the name. In the middle of a residential neighborhood, it draws a regular crowd of loyal patrons who don't seem to mind that a meal here can be quite uneven. Glorie's is convenient and comfortable and homey. Heck, if I lived in the neighborhood, I'd probably go back, too.

Here's the meal I'd order. I'd start with a cup of spicy Maryland crab soup, chock-full of crab meat and vegetables. Three Baltimore natives proclaimed it a fine, authentic version. I'd follow that with either the moist chicken breast stuffed with crab imperial, or chunks of monkfish broiled with butter and herbs.

Both of those dinners are tucked into little casseroles and served with two sides. I'd skip the salad of iceberg lettuce that comes with a packet of Ken's dressing. The home-style veggies are better, like the smoky, long-simmered, Southern-style green beans and old-fashioned cucumber salad with carrots and onions. I'd avoid buttery mashed potatoes with the consistency of instant, and stewed tomatoes so sweet they taste more like spiced apples.

Another dish I'd avoid is the shrimp salad sandwich, made with dry, gray shrimp. We found it strange that the shrimp salad was so unappealing; the other salads we tried were so fresh -- finely chopped sweet cole slaw and red-skin potato salad in a creamy-sweet dressing.

Sweet is a word that popped up a lot during our meal. We used it to describe everything from the awful tomato sauce that covered (and for us ruined) a bed of spaghetti and fork-tender veal parmigiana, to an appetizer of crispy apple "stix."

Our waitress told us the "stix" were her favorite item on the menu. When we tasted them, we were stunned. Imagine a deep-fried apple pie, the kind you might get at a burger chain, fashioned into inch-thick logs with artificial whipped topping for dipping. It was the most ill-advised appetizer we'd ever eaten. Broccoli-and-cheese-food poppers were better, although not by much, and so were thick, crispy onion rings.

The best dessert to order here is also the biggest. We were in for a surprise when we asked for an eclair and got something that looked like a foot-long sub. These giant pastries, made for Glorie's by a local bakery, are filled with smooth custard and spread thick with chocolate frosting. At four times the normal size, one could easily double as a birthday cake.

Glorie's Place

2346 Turkey Point Road, Essex

410-391-1730

Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner

Credit cards: American Express, MasterCard, Visa

Prices: Appetizers, $2.50-$5.95; entrees, $6.25-$16.50

Food: **

Service: **1/2

Atmosphere: **1/2

Ratings system: Outstanding: ****; Good ***; Fair or uneven **; Poor *

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