Full Moon offers standard meals, fabulous desserts

EATS

Dining For $25 Or Less

May 18, 2006|By KAREN NITKIN | KAREN NITKIN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

I'd like to thank the rather loud and probably inebriated man sitting a few tables away from us at the Full Moon Pub and Grill the other night.

His story about a drowning squirrel certainly helped pass the time, especially the long minutes that passed without attention from our very kind but busy waitress.

Squirrel Man made an excellent point: Squirrels can't yell for help. Therefore, it's impossible to tell whether a squirrel is having a relaxing swim or drowning and desperately wishing for a tiny life preserver. I'm sorry to report that Squirrel Man's squirrel fell into the second category.

I tell this story because it is, in my opinion, more interesting than the food at Full Moon. This sprawling restaurant, in an almost rural patch of Reisterstown, serves food you've had a thousand times before - burgers, sandwiches, chicken Chesapeake, stuffed shrimp, New York strip steak.

Not that it's bad. If the food was really bad, that would be interesting. If it was really good, that would be interesting, too. Instead, it's just ... fine. Nothing overcooked, nothing undercooked, nothing overly spicy, nothing overly bland, nothing prepared in a particularly new or unusual way.

Actually, I'm not telling the whole truth here. The desserts at Full Moon ($5.50 for slices of most pies), made by David Leonard, who is both regular chef and pastry chef, are fabulous. Key lime pie balances the sweet-tartness of real Key limes and cream on a perfect crumb crust, apple pie bursts with firm slices of cinnamon-dusted fruit, and pecan pie melts on the tongue. These were the surprise hit of the night, well worth the 20 minutes it took for them to arrive. If the apple pie had been served warm, I would have been in heaven.

Full Moon, owned by Robin and Calvin Bitner, opened in November 2000. It seems to be named for the mural of planets, moons and stars painted on the dining room walls. But it might also refer to the view from the enclosed deck, an enormous structure well suited to rowdy crowds. Or maybe it refers to the picture on the menu, of a crescent moon with a human face, smoking a cigarette. That's a new one.

Fortunately, an indoor bar area separates the deck, which is open year-round, from the no-smoking dining room, which tends to be quieter, unless you're sharing it with Squirrel Man. The soundtrack is cheesy-but-fun '80s classics - "Wildfire" and "Escape (the Pina Colada song)."

Service at the Full Moon couldn't be friendlier - we wish our waitress all the best getting back together with her ex - but a little cavalier, with bowls occasionally being sloshed onto the table, long waits and small confusions, such as bringing tonic water instead of club soda.

Appetizers include typical bar snacks such as nachos ($5.99), crab dip ($11.99) and chicken wings ($6.99). Steamed shrimp ($9.99 for a half pound) were the most healthful choice and quite good, the fat shrimp coated with plenty of Old Bay seasoning. A crab pizza ($12.95), on the other hand, was a greasy mass of bread, crab and cheese and not worth the calories.

Main courses come with acceptable iceberg-based salads, served with ranch or a sprightly balsamic dressing, and a basket of warm rolls. Tilapia coated with tortilla crumbs ($17.95), a special one night, was fine, but a slab of salmon ($13.99) arrived with a rather oily dill sauce. Chicken marsala ($14.99), ordered on the recommendation of our waitress, featured a boneless, skinless chicken breast in a rich wine sauce, topped with mushrooms. It was exactly what one would expect, like so much of the food at the Full Moon.

The deck and the desserts are what make this place interesting. And, if you're lucky, a loud guy telling crazy stories at a nearby table.

Full Moon Pub and Grill

Where:

1100 Westminster Road, Reisterstown

Call:

410-526-5565

Open:

Open daily 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; kitchen closes 11 p.m. weekdays, midnight weekends

Credit cards:

All major

Food:

** 1/2 (2 1/2 stars)

Service:

** 1/2 (2 1/2 stars)

Atmosphere:

** 1/2 (2 1/2 stars)

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

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