I really like Outtakes, a new upscale carryout and catering operation in Cockeysville. The food was terrific, the service couldn't have been friendlier and the chef, Donald Spence, lovingly walked me through his menu.
I do have a question, though. What the heck is this place doing in a strip mall anchored by a tire outlet? Just another one of those odd juxtapositions of suburban living, I suppose.
Despite its somewhat incongruous location, Outtakes Celebrity Caterers could have a bright future.
Inside, the small waiting area is decorated with some wonderful photographs of weather phenomena -- including tornados and lightning strikes. There is a small counter with a couple of stools (and three tables are planned for the sidewalk out front) but carryout and catering are the focus.
Spence urged us to try his cream of crab soup ($5) and we were happy we did. It was creamy without being cloying, and featured a hint of sherry and nice pieces of lump meat.
An awesome sea-bass sandwich ($12) came on rosemary-seasoned focaccia. The sandwich featured a lovely piece of blackened but flaky fish topped with grilled onions and sweet red peppers. The burger ($8) was also first-rate, with a 10-ounce slab of Black Angus meat cooked over an open grill.
The special of the day was quirky but irresistible: bruschetta with roasted shrimp and sliced grape tomatoes ($13). The herbed shrimp were perfectly cooked, and the buttery sauce was laced with garlic and provided some of the best bread dipping I can remember.
Spence also volunteered to whip up a pasta dish that wasn't on the menu -- penne with slices of delicious sliced chicken and peppers in olive oil. At $13, it was a bit pricey, but also wonderful. Finally, we had to sample the chicken tenders ($6), which were well beyond average.
Outtakes offers desserts made by a local bakery. We tried a small, cute devil's food cake, which cost $7.50 and provided plenty of rich sweetness for four of us. Outtakes serves a limited breakfast menu of eggs, French toast and pancakes. Carryout dinners are available, but must be ordered a day in advance.
Food: *** 1/2
Waiting area: ***
Parking: ** 1/2
Where: 11223A York Road, Cockeysville
Hours: 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday
Prices: Soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, fish and chicken dishes, $3 to $13; credit cards accepted
Outstanding: ****; Good: ***; Fair or uneven: **; Poor: *