Good stop for soup, burger

TAKEOUT

August 18, 2004|By Tom Waldron | Tom Waldron,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

It was slow at the Starlight Diner the other night. Just me and the waitress and the radio. It could have made for a decent country song.

But, I was there for the carryout.

The Starlight sits between a liquor store and a rent-to-own furniture outlet in a somewhat bedraggled shopping center in the 11900 block of Reisterstown Road, not far from Franklin Boulevard. Inside, the restaurant has some diner-style chrome, booths and several framed covers of Life magazines from the 1960s. ("Two Californians at home in a cave in Crete," read one intriguing 1968 headline.)

The menu is your basic diner encyclopedia, everything from pancakes and bacon to New York strip steak and catfish.

The waitress was perfectly attentive although a bit surprised when I asked for the chicken souvlaki, which apparently does not get ordered very often. After realizing that it was a Greek dish, she smiled and told me I was in luck because a Greek cook was working that evening.

Our order took a bit longer than I expected, given the paucity of diners. But, in the end, despite my worst fears, the meal turned out to be mostly quite satisfying.

Chicken noodle soup ($1.45) was clearly homemade and jammed with vegetables and noodles, in a decent thick broth. The open-faced roast-beef sandwich ($7.25) came with plenty of meat and drenched in good gravy that was perfect for dipping fries.

A cheeseburger was a bargain at $3.75 and featured a good-sized slab of meat. The turkey club ($6.50) was a towering creation that included real fresh turkey and strips of bacon.

The crab-cake sandwich ($7.95) had lots of heft - lots of fillers but also enough crab to keep the complaining down at home. Finally, the chicken souvlaki ($6.95) was the only clunker, with an unfortunate tzatziki sauce that obscured anything good that might have been happening under it. The less said about the fried zucchini sticks that came with it, the better.

The dessert case had plenty of cakes and pies, but we opted for the homemade tiramisu ($2.25) - an adequate creation featuring custard and a rum-infused cake.

Starlight Diner

Food: **1/2

Service: **1/2

Waiting area: **1/2

Parking: ***

Where: 11929 Reisterstown Road, Reisterstown

Phone: 410-833-0690

Hours: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; open 24 hours, from 7 a.m. Friday to 10 p.m. Sunday

Prices: Sandwiches, entrees, soups, burgers, seafood, salads and breakfast items, from $1.45 to $16.95; credit cards accepted

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

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