Damon's has a good concept that needs attention

June 24, 1999|By Kathryn Higham | Kathryn Higham,Special to the Sun

Here's the novelty of eating at Damon's in Timonium. You can chow down on ribs while listening to the sports program of your choice. Volume-control boxes allow each table to pipe in the sound of whatever is playing on the mounted televisions. It made me glad I wasn't with my husband, whose trigger finger on the television remote is a bit twitchy.

The Timonium franchise was No. 132 in the nationwide Damon's chain when it opened in March. But the restaurant has a Baltimore feel; its walls are filled with local sports memorabilia, from football to bowling. There are large-screen televisions in the bar area, and plenty of booths in the main dining room. Comfortable and fun. The concept works for us, we thought as we settled in with our menus.

Problems set in once we started eating. They included a collapsed greasy loaf of onion rings, a dry, dense burger, and pecan-crusted candied sweet potatoes that were so sweet they tasted like pie. The worst offender was the strange pineapple salsa on the glazed salmon. It tasted like it had been perfumed, and it completely overwhelmed the flavor of what seemed to be a moist, well-cooked piece of fish.

The food was only part of our woes. Service was stunningly bad. We knew we were in trouble when we saw how our waitress treated a customer who was unhappy with a salad. She cursed mildly, but not quite under her breath, still standing at our table. Then, with obvious displeasure, she snatched the dish and stormed off to the kitchen.

Still early in the dinner hour, she felt it was more important to finish her side-work, re-stacking condiment bottles in the galley, than it was to answer our questions. While we were eating dessert, she picked up her carpet sweeper and went crazy working it back and forth around our table. I actually had to lift my bag off the floor so its strap was out of her way.

Not everything went awry with our meal. We did like the ribs, which had good flavor even if they weren't supremely tender. But we didn't need the cup of barbecue sauce on the side. It wasn't tasty enough to warrant the extra slathering.

The best thing about our burger was its topping of succulent pulled pork. Our advice: Skip the burger and just order a pork sandwich on a bun or rolled in a tortilla wrap.

For starters, try crisp chicken wings in a sweet chili glaze, instead of a vinegary version of Buffalo wings. Damon's potato chowder, thick and sweet with corn kernels, is worth a try. So are the San Antonio spring rolls. These tight cigars are filled with a spicy Tex-Mex blend of black beans, chicken and spinach.

Creamy cheesecake dotted with crumbled Oreos, and moist chocolate cake with mocha frosting are fine to finish with, as long as no one is sweeping under your table.

Damon's

2306 York Road, Timonium

410-453-9555

Hours: Open daily for lunch and dinner

Credit cards: All major cards

Prices: Appetizers, $2.29-$9.29; entrees, $5.99-$19.99

Food: **

Service: *1/2

Atmosphere: ***

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

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