After appetizer, a slow descent

Entree: The dip and the Key lime pie were great, but the middle of the meal was a disappointment that took a long time to unfold.

Under $50

Arundel Live

March 30, 2000|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

If you're looking for a cozy, neighborhood restaurant to relax, order an ice-cold beer and perhaps a crab cake sandwich, Texas Steaks in Arnold won't let you down -- as long as you don't mind slow service and your food tasting a little as if it was just defrosted.

A friend and I arrived just after 1: 30 p.m. on a recent weekday to find the restaurant mostly empty. With its high ceilings and large windows, the restaurant seemed bright and airy, and the interior appeared so recently renovated we swore we could smell freshly sanded pine.

We began by splitting two appetizers -- seafood skins ($7.95) and the Texas crab and artichoke dip ($8.95).

The seafood skins were tasty -- four large skins heaped with shreds of crab meat, melted cheese and potatoes -- but they tasted a little as if they had just been defrosted. And we weren't enthusiastic about the limp-looking tomatoes in the center of the plate that seemed to have been cut the night before and stored in the refrigerator.

The crab and artichoke dip was wonderful and turned out to be the best part of our meal. The creamy, cheesy baked dip stuffed with lump crab meat came with eight hefty slabs of delicious garlic bread that we could not stop munching.

Unfortunately, our meal went downhill from there.

After we finished our appetizers, we waited more than 25 minutes before our crab cake sandwich and filet mignon were served. And this long wait occurred though the restaurant was empty except for one party at the bar.

Our waitress apologized as she brought the food, explaining that the crab cake had taken a long time to broil.

Halfway through the crab cake ($13.95), my lunch companion speculated why it took so long -- it tasted zesty but a little watery, as if it was freshly defrosted. The tomato -- again -- looked limp and refrigerated. But she liked her fries.

My 8-ounce filet mignon ($20.95) was charred on the outside and tough, brown and dry on the inside. I did order it cooked medium-well done, but expected some pink in the middle. I filled up on the baked potato and hunks of garlic toast instead.

We capped the meal with a "big slab" of Key lime pie ($2.95), which was a pleasing closer. As promised, the slab indeed was huge. And with its crumbly graham cracker crust and tangy lime filling, it was delicious. Its only flaw was, it was served so cold some bites hurt our teeth.

Maybe it could have used a little more defrosting.

Texas Steaks

Where: 969 Ritchie Highway, Arnold, 410-975-9662

Hours: 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. every day.

Prices: Appetizers, $1.95-$13.95; entrees, $4.95-$34.50

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discovery

Rating: **

Ratings:

* culinary wasteland

**** culinary heaven

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