Monday, February 16, 2009

Help Me: Meat Markets and Breakfast

Sometimes, you just want the basics.  A great steak.  Some great coffee and eggs.

I'm posting about "What I've Learned" to collect a guide to the best of Howard County food. I'm asking for help, and I'll incorporate comments in the upcoming posts (or update them if the post already happened):
  • Where do you go buy meat?  Where are the best steaks?  The best sausages?  I have tried Laurel Meat Market, Boarman's and JW Treuth.  But I'd like to know more, and even at those three, I want to know what is best.  Special cuts?  Seasonal items?  Why do you go there?
  • Where do you go for breakfast?  Who has great brunch?  I like Eggspectation, but there has to be more.  Diners?  High-end for the weekend?  Any ethnic places serve up breakfast you like?


Clayton Koonce said...

I'm always interested in brunch places for the weekend, and I can tell you about three.

Clyde's on the lakefront probably isn't new to you. I can walk to them on a nice morning. They might be pricey, but it's good food, and there is complimentary bread or coffee cake in slices on a platter while you wait for your order. However, they need to do something about the coffee.

Out of the way for Howard County, and maybe not what you were looking for, but I must recommend City Cafe in Baltimore. It's a good place to stop if you're on your way to a concert or a museum. Their weekend brunch is very popular. Served until 3pm on Saturdays; they recently started serving brunch all day on Sundays. There is a regular menu and specials, everything from omelets to Belgian waffles. When the country ham with potato pancakes and apple chutney is on the menu, I always get it. Coffee is fantastic and available in several different brews. If your new to the place, be aware that there are two sections: one where you order at the counter and a table-service section. In good weather, there are tables out on the sidewalk. City Cafe is in the Mount Vernon area on the corner of Read and Cathedral Streets, a block from Charles Street. (Also good for lunch and dinner.)

Once when City Cafe was too crowded, I headed for home, but as I was going south on 95, approaching 175, I noticed that the food exit signs included a place called Frank's Diner, not one of the chain eateries. I think this is on the stretch of US 1 which was subject of your recent post. I found the place just south of 175, although hidden from the road. It's a classic diner with an expansion on it -- try to get a seat in the original diner section! I've only been twice, but what makes the menu special to me is that you can order....grits! How many places around here serve grits? (Maybe more than I'm aware of.) Frank's grits are a little thicker than what I make at home, but they're good (if you like grits).

Now I'll have to look for the Eggspectation place you mentioned. Thanks!

BeerGuy said...

I love Treuths. Its got a nice enough counter with meats, sausage, cheese, fish, poultry, etc. plus some other items in the rest of the small store.

Special cuts? I'm a sucker for the delmonico's which usually end up great. Also like the liverwurst, take that home and spread it on some rosemary + olive oil triscuits, awesome stuff.

Not a huge breakfast guy, but Victoria Gastro Pub has a decent breakfast, usually some combination of French Toast, or English Breakfast, and something else slightly uncommon usually available.

Frisco Grille doesn't open until 11 or so but they have a breakfast burrito with chorizo thats supposedly good.

Weekend brunch is nice at the Turf Valley Golf Resort's Alexandra's restaurant, can look onto the course if you get a window seat.

Anonymous said...

Mimi's Cafe in the Costco shopping center has great options for breakfast. It's a chain, but I like that part of their menu is seasonal and everything hubby and I have had there has always been delicious. You also get a really good value for the money.

For a quick breakfast we like to stop by Nora Cafe. They don't have a lot of hot breakfast options available, but the service and food are always fantastic and I like supporting local small businesses. It's a great place to pick up a bagel sandwich in the morning.

HowICook said...

I’m a huge fan of the butcher in the Dutch Country Farmers Market in Burtonsville on Route 29. I know they’re suppose to move to an old furniture store location on 198 in Laurel near 197. I don’t see any sign of them moving anytime soon maybe it’s the economy. I shop at least twice a month but I only tend to buy bacon and sausage. My main staple is the thick cut hickory smoked bacon. The maple bacon is outstanding with a real nice maple flavor (cook carefully it’s easy to burn) though I only buy it in the Fall and Winter. I also like to buy the turkey bacon ends (cheap) and use it like ham in beans and greens. The bulk country sausage is outstanding and the bulk turkey sausage is very popular. The many varieties of link sausage are all worth trying. I’m also partial to the smoked/cooked sausages in the end case closest to the chicken stand.

Even though I consider myself to be a diehard home cook and foodie, I still have to recommend the beef (always angus) at Bloom in Scaggsville. I buy the steak that’s on sale (usually really good prices) and always get the extra thick cuts in the butcher case. I have not found better beef in the area especially for the price. The porterhouse is the best but the bone-in strip and rib eye are also good. I think the bone matters. The steaks in the butcher case are not covered and tend to dry out a bit which I think is a great plus.

Clayton Koonce said...

A fourth place I should mention: Lakeside Roastery in the medium-rise building up behind Clyde's on the lakefront. It started out as part of the local Riverside Roastery chain. They serve only breakfast sandwiches for breakfast, but the coffee is excellent and available in various gourmet brews. On weekends, they're usually only open on Saturday but will open on Sunday when there's a festival at the lakefront. said...

Thanks for the good news, HowlCook. We switched to a similar market we knew about in Cockeysville — we took the Burtonsville dutch market's word that they were moving months ago, and hadn't had the time/energy to wander around Laurel looking for their new digs.

(Obviously I concur with HowlCook's assessment of the dutch market's offerings!)

Treuth's is not bad, but we find we can't be bothered to go around Robin Hood's barn to get there.

If Wegman's ever gets here, you'll definitely like their meat/seafood department.

A sit-down breakfast (particularly on weekdays) is a bit of a wasteland around here IMHO, second only to late-night offerings in scarcity. (One has to go to AA Co for a Denny's and PG for an IHOP? WTF?)

We occasionally (OK, rarely — it's expensive!) partake of the off-the-hook Sunday brunch at the Sheraton on the lakefront. Other than that, we cook at home (usually with some yummy sausage or bacon from the dutch market).

Eggspectation's food and drinks were OK, but the prices seemed high. And if you're having a "late" breakfast, be warned — the place turns into a hip yuppie hangout at happy hour (which might explain the prices).

Victoria's gets a big fat razzberry... I need to do a separate post about my ridiculous experience there.

OH, I almost forgot Daniels! Yes, the infamous "biker bar" is open for breakfast (as a condition of keeping their outdoor liquor license, I understand). The parking lot at 6 a.m. doesn't look like a Harley store, but I still wouldn't recommend going there in your golf togs, capisce? The food is decent though — and there is limited bar service (yay! gives a whole new meaning to egg in your beer). We haven't been there for a while — thanks for reminding me (or helping me remind myself?) to stop in.

Clayton Koonce said...

A CORRECTION to my comment above about City Cafe in Baltimore: I gave the wrong street corner for its location. The Cafe is on the corner of Cathedral and W. Eager Streets, still one block west of Charles. (Read Street is how I usually get into the neighborhood from MLK Blvd.)

I was just there this evening on my way to a performance. I'm still thinking about the vanilla bean cheesecake with a layer of sliced strawberries on top that I saw in the dessert case and I some how resisted.

bboyneko said...

Cheesecake factory has a good sunday brunch, i especially love the steak and eggs.

Anonymous said...

A great place to go for Sunday brunch is Kelsey's, in the Normandy shopping center in EC. It's buffet style, so you can eat to your heart's content (check their website for full menu), and it's pretty decent (I just devour their awesome bacon!)... but the kicker for me is the live JAZZ. One guy plays the upright acoustic bass, the other a mellow electric guitar. They are EXCELLENT. The musicians are blissfully ignored by some of the patrons there, but I think there's always a few people listening and enjoying the music. I know we do! So go if you like good jazz and good food. It's well worth it.