Piv's Pub Takes The Middle Ground

Restaurant Review

But Better Food Might Help Out The Upscale Casual Eatery

July 09, 2009|By Richard Gorelick | Richard Gorelick,Special to The Baltimore Sun

Courtney's is now Piv's Pub. Kind of.

When Courtney's restaurant was in Timonium, where Christopher Daniel is now, Piv's Pub was the name of its sidekick bar. A few years ago, Courtney's - and Piv's Pub - moved to its current location in Cockeysville, where the old Bare Bones used to be. The whole establishment has recently been renovated and all of it is now known as Piv's Pub.

The overhaul, which includes a new party room, looks sharp, like someone put a lot of thought and money into it. The renovated dining room, with gleaming wood floors, cut-through windows, Venetian blinds and understated jungle motifs, feels light and roomy but completely unintimidating. Technically, the new dining room probably falls into the upscale casual category, but the whole family will feel comfortable here. (You'd never picture the interior based on the outside sign, which suggests Piv's Pub will be a vintage Ocean City singles bar.)

Likewise, the menu is easily accessible, an appealing, if very familiar, mix of big-ticket entrees like New York strip steak and seafood pastas with lighter, pubbier fare like ribs and burgers. There are not "fresh" and "seasonal" pretensions, here, but there's just enough substance on the menu - a stuffed sea bass, a rockfish special - to make dining at Piv's Pub feel like a night out. Piped-in classic rock and the young and dressed-in-shorts waitstaff keep it from feeling too fancy. There really aren't too many middle-ground options like it in this area; most places are like bars that serve food or fancy places where you wouldn't think of taking kids.

This straddling act works up to a point, but for Piv's to really pull it off, the food should be better. It's hit or miss. The best thing we tried was a very good thing, a baby-spinach salad dressed with a warm vinaigrette and topped with mushrooms, chopped bacon, and shallots. Ordered with an add-on of grilled salmon, it makes a light and satisfying summer meal. The very simply prepared salmon was generously portioned.

Another good option is the penne pasta with blackened chicken, available in both entree and light fare portions. The light-fare size is a good deal, with plenty enough peas, tomatoes, and tender chicken for most eaters, especially after a salad or an appetizer. The parmesan sauce was a little watery, though, never quite sticking to or blending with the dish's other ingredients.

There was an objection or two to almost everything else we tried. There was way too much balsamic vinegar splashed into the tomato and mozzarella toppings of a simple bruschetta appetizer. This made the mozzarella look discolored and your mouth pucker. Another appetizer, skewered chicken and filet mignon, was actively bad in many ways, from the not-so-mignon-y quality of the beef to its awkward presentation, which included an unbilled - and rather cumbersome - bed of saffron rice.

Shrimp salad, served on a soft roll, tasted too much like the coleslaw that accompanied it, disappointingly bland. St. Louis ribs were not meaty enough and too messy, even for ribs, because the sauce wasn't sticking to the meat. The problem with a grilled Cajun salmon entree was that its smoky, slightly acrid tomato sauce seemed to have traveled over from another dish.

It could be we missed some better choices from both ends of the spectrum - a Reuben sandwich, the stuffed sea bass, maybe the prime rib. The dining room, when we visited, had a good buzz. You could tell diners were happy here. I liked the feel of Piv's lounge side, too, which looks like a hangout for regulars who have learned what things are worth ordering.

The thing to do would be to come here to watch an Orioles game, and ask around.

On the menu

* Baby spinach salad - $7.99 (with salmon - additional $4.99)

* Penne pasta and blackened chicken - $9.99

* St. Louis BBQ ribs, half rack - $9.99

* Shrimp salad sandwich - $8.99

* Filet mignon & chicken skewers - $9.99

* Cajun salmon - $18.99

* Penne pasta with blackened chicken - $9.99

Piv's Pub

Where: 9811 York Road, Cockeysville

Call: 410-666-7487

Open: 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Friday and noon-11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Food: ** (2 stars)

Service: ** 1/2 (2 1/2 stars)

Atmosphere: ** 1/2 (2 1/2 stars)

Credit cards: MC, VISA, AMEX

Appetizers: $7.99-$12.99

Entrees: $9.99-$23.99

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

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.