Gourmet dinner is mostly mediocre



April 24, 2002|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I walked into the Sutton Place Gourmet in Pikesville and my spirits soared with anticipation. Beautiful produce and a wonderful selection of cheeses beckoned. It looked like the perfect place to grab a gourmet dinner to go.

Alas, looks can be deceiving.

Sutton Place, part of a Maryland-D.C.-Virginia chain specializing in high-end foods and catering, sits in the Woodholme Shopping Center only a couple of blocks north of the Beltway on Reisterstown Road. You can order a sandwich from the deli or make your own salad. My son and I decided not to go for such basic carryout stuff, choosing instead to sample the fancier, prepared foods.

Service was attentive, although there were glitches -- first with my panini, which fell apart on the grill and with a balky computer at the dessert counter.

Back home, the food turned out to be mostly mediocre and the prices perplexing. The $4.75 for the eight-piece tuna maki roll, for example, seemed reasonable, but the $11.99 a pound for the curried chicken salad seemed too high.

We started our meal with something Sutton Place called beef stew, which cost about $2 for a small serving and turned out to be vegetable soup in a beef stock, with scant traces of meat. The taste was OK, if you like vegetable soup.

My son pronounced himself quite pleased with the tuna maki roll. Roasted chicken stuffed with chevre ($5.46 per serving) had a nice smoky, grilled flavor. But the chicken breast tasted as though it had been a special the day before -- dry despite the soft goat cheese.

Our eclectic meal continued with a panini -- thick-sliced Italian bread surrounding eggplant, peppers and mozzarella. The $5.49 sandwich, which looked tempting while being heated up on the grill in the store, suffered during the 15-minute ride home and was too greasy to eat.

The curried chicken salad, full of big chunks of white meat and a subtle curry taste, was perhaps the best dish we tried, but at a cost of about $3.75 for a small helping, we should have been raving. Nobody had complaints about the lemon bars ($1.79 each), which had a tart lemon filling on a well-made shortbread and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.

Sutton Place Gourmet

Food: * *

Service: * *

Waiting Room: * * *

Parking: * * *

Where: 1809 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville

Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday

Prices: $5 to $10 for lunch per person Credit cards accepted.

Phone: 410-484-5501; fax 410-484-1351

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

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