Food's good, if not original



March 31, 2004|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

During the national celebration known as March Madness, I find myself gravitating toward television sets more often than usual. And, boy, were there television sets at Rocky Run Tap & Grill in Columbia during our recent visit -- zillions of them, with two different basketball games going at once.

Of course, I was there to pick up carryout, but what better place to sit and wait for food than at a bar with high-stakes games on the tube?

Rocky Run is a mini chain, with restaurants in Charles Village and Marley Station Mall as well as in Columbia. The owners have established dependable, if slightly overpriced, eateries that somehow manage to cater to both the bar crowd and families looking for kid-friendly food and patient waiters.

They also seem to have the carryout thing down pretty well. Service was friendly and prompt. The food won't set any records for originality, but everything we tried was good -- in a high-carb, to-heck-with-the-fat-content way.

We started with Redneck Onion Rings ($6.89), thick slices of Spanish onion deep-fried and served with a tangy dip. They were satisfying (although pricey). The Jammin' Jerk Cheesehead Burger ($7.22) featured a good-size slab of beef, sauteed peppers and onions, and jack cheese, and came with salty, fresh-cut fries.

My older son devoured a Buffalonian sandwich ($7.88), a deep-fried chicken breast drenched in a very spicy hot sauce, served on a roll with blue-cheese dressing. And chicken tacos ($8.67) were quite tasty -- grilled chicken strips in soft tortillas, with cheese, peppers and salsa, accompanied by rice and refried beans.

Rocky Run offers a wide variety of decadent desserts, heavy on such things as whipped cream and hot fudge. For carryout, our server suggested the peanut butter crunch pie ($3.96), a potent combination of chocolate mousse, brownie chunks and peanut butter, encased in a delicious chocolate-cookie crust.

Waiting for carryout in a noisy, smoky bar might not be for everyone. In that case, I'd suggest checking out Rocky Run's menu online and ordering ahead, to minimize waiting times.

Rocky Run Tap & Grill

Food: ***

Service: ***

Waiting area: ** 1/2

Parking: ***

Where: 6480 Dobbin Center Way, Columbia

Phone: 410-730-6581

Web site: www.rocky

Hours: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday

Prices: Burgers, ribs, tacos, salads, appetizers, soups and sandwiches from $6 to $17; credit cards accepted

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

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