Pleasing a meat eater down to the bone

TABLE TALK

Flavorful selections, appealing aroma, welcome patrons to the Meat Rack

Takeout

March 19, 2003|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The best line in My Big Fat Greek Wedding comes when it's revealed that the groom-to-be doesn't eat meat.

"What do you mean, you don't eat no meat? ... That's OK. I'll make lamb," says Aunt Voula.

Somehow that line came back to me as I ventured into the Meat Rack in Catonsville - kind of a poor man's version of the Prime Rib.

The Meat Rack occupies a little red wooden building behind the Tastee Zone ice-cream stand not far outside the Beltway on Edmondson Avenue. A sign beckons with "Home Cooking at its Finest," and the aroma of roasting flesh fills the air in the somewhat cramped parking lot. But I'm a carnivore and I like that smell.

Inside is a small waiting area separated from a bustling kitchen by a counter with a few copies of Golf Digest and Car and Driver for those waiting for orders. The decor, such as it is, could be called early jock, featuring several Ravens flags and pennants, a lucky horseshoe, an American flag and a photograph of Cal Ripken.

But hey, what do you want from a place called the Meat Rack - doilies and bric-a-brac?

OK, this might not be the place for everybody, but I really liked it. I can say that my bacon burger ($3.79) was perhaps the best I've had in Baltimore - a big slab of fresh meat cooked on an open-flame grill. And I mean cooked. It had a slightly charred flavor that I thought was wonderful, with a couple of strips of crisp bacon on a fresh kaiser roll.

The pit-beef sandwich ($4.59), which also came on the same kind of roll, had a nice smoky flavor. The beef-barbecue sandwich ($5.89 for a large) seemed to be pretty much the same meat coated in a vinegary - and decent - sauce.

A half-rack of pork ribs ($8.99) was meaty and flavorful. The only dud: the chicken fingers ($3.99) were bland.

Side dishes, which include french fries, potato salad, slaw and macaroni and cheese($2.39 each), were all adequate or better, including some delicious mashed potatoes and gravy. The Meat Rack serves no dessert.

Menu items are available for delivery in the area.

The Meat Rack

Food: * * *

Service: * * *

Waiting area: * *

Parking: * * 1/2

Where: 1715 Edmondson Ave., Catonsville

Phone: 443-498-0011

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday

Prices: Sandwiches, ribs and pit beef from $3.79 to $11.98; side dishes, $2.39; no credit cards

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

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