The pie's the thing at homey Baugher's

Eats

April 12, 2001|By Robin Tunnicliff Reid | Robin Tunnicliff Reid,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

EVERY restaurant has a specialty, and at Baugher's, it's the playground. At least that's the consensus of two of my dining companions, Susannah, 9, and Ben, 5. When we reached the 53-year-old Westminster landmark, they dashed across the large parking lot and hit the swings. It took some coaxing (and promises of homemade pies) to lure the children inside to eat supper.

Susannah and Ben represent a major component of Baugher's target audience: families with kids. In addition to the small playground, there's a petting zoo (open from June through October), a produce market where you can sample Baugher's cider, wagon rides to fields where you pick your own fruit, and a friendly staff that takes youthful antics in stride.

Inside the restaurant, three no-frills dining rooms can serve 192 people from a menu reminiscent of an old-fashioned church supper. Prices are old-fashioned, too; the bill for three adults and two children was $42.39 including a 20 percent tip.

Baugher's (pronounced BAW-gers) started out in 1948 as a small farm. The family sold pies door to door and then set up a stand where the restaurant now is located. Today, Baugher's makes 42 different kinds of pies, about 25 of which are available daily in the restaurant. Many are made with fruit grown at one of the family's four farms, which unfold across 2,000 acres in Carroll County and Adams County, Pa.

With a legacy like that, pie is a must. (If the weather hadn't been so cold, the 20-some flavors of homemade ice cream might have been more appealing.) So, we tried slices of peach, blueberry and raspberry pies. The last one was exceptional, even though, like the other two, it was served cold. It was loaded with tart, pureed berries.

In the case of the other two pies, a little warmth could have done wonders. The kitchen does Baugher's most famous dish a huge disservice in this regard. This became apparent when I got home and heated a blackberry pie before eating it; 15 minutes in a warm oven brought out a very nicely flavored crust.

While the children liked their hot dog and cheeseburger, the adults in our group were disappointed with the entrees. With the roast turkey special, there was little difference in taste between the light and dark meat drenched in gravy.

Two squares of fried haddock lacked any taste. And, although the fried chicken had the proper amount of crispness on the outside and moistness on the inside, the batter cried out for seasoning of some kind, if only a dash of salt.

Side dishes fared better, especially if they involved sugar or baking. We loved the retro look, taste and name of yum yum salad, a bright-pink mixture of raspberry gelatin, bananas, pineapples, coconut, pecans and whipped cream. That and a bowl of crunchy little apple fritters dusted with powdered sugar could have done double duty as desserts.

Banana nut salad - banana slices topped with crushed nuts, a dab of red jelly that tasted like almonds and mayonnaise - wasn't bad, just a little strange. Puffy, golden-brown house rolls were light and sweet, but should have been hot.

On the down side, the mashed potatoes were bland, as were the french fries, and the Brussels sprouts were overdone.

Our waitress' good humor and ready smile helped improve the meal. So did the playground, which we had to visit again before we embarked on the scenic drive home.

Baugher's is a good option if you've got little ones to feed and entertain and don't want to spend much money. Just plan on adding salt and pepper to your food.

Baugher's

289 W. Main St., Westminster

410-848-7413

Hours: Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner

Prices: $1.40 (for a hamburger or hot dog) to $11.40

Credit cards: All major cards

Food: *1/2

Service: ***

Atmosphere: **

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