Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Trolling: Coffee, Orange Juice And The Ramshead Salad With The Name Too Silly To Say Out Loud

Jessica is back after a second cruise trolling for good food in Howard County.  Her first three suggestions ran from cheese enchiladas to key lime cupcakes.  Now, she returns with a spot for coffee, a restaurant for salad, and the orange juice that will make her eat at a chain:
Coffee, any kind, from Sidamo Coffee & Tea in Fulton.  Especially the Americano.  It is strong and bold but without the bitterness of Starbucks.  This is for people who like coffee, not sweet, syrupy, coffee-flavored drinks.  Depending on my mood, I'll add a splash of milk and some cinnamon, or just leave it black.  Or on a particularly warm day, a plain iced latte really hits the spot.  I really love that they serve it in real mugs when you're not having it to go; it's just a nice little touch that you don't get without asking at Starbucks.  On a nice day, take your real mug outside.  This is truly one of HoCo's finest parking lot cafes.  Even on a hot day, you can't smell the, um, by-product from Maple Lawn Farm.  When the weather is unbearable, sit in one of the comfy chairs inside.  Either way, it will be time well-wasted. (But if you stay long, do them a favor and order a second cup of coffee; business seems slow but steady, and I'd hate for us to lose the best cafe this part of the county may ever get).
Ramshead in Savage is our family's special occasion standby.  The Don Cornycado salad (though I refuse to EVER say that name out loud, instead I insist on showing the server what I'd like to order because seriously, what a silly name!!) is always fresh-tasting, with quite the Old Bay kick to go with the avocado, roasted corn, shrimp, and scallops.  I like to pair it with half of my fiance's fries (which are hands-down the best fries in the county) stolen, one at a time, when he isn't looking.  The best way to wash it down is with a bottle of Pinkus organic hefeweizen, preferably poured into a glass so you can at least pretend you're civilized.  This is the perfect meal from about March straight through to the end of October.  
Finally, I wanted to stay away from chains because they just aren't part of what makes it worth it to live in HoCo, but Eggspectation in Columbia is another standby for one reason: the orange juice.  Fresh-squeezed and just sweet enough to be refreshing without being overpowering or syrupy-tasting, it goes perfectly with the Oy Veg (but skip the tomatoes that come with it- they're marginal at best, and downright awful compared to the latkes).  Have the latkes with a bit of sour cream, get the eggs over easy and dip some toast in the gooey yolk.  (No? I'm the only one who does that? You don't know what you're missing!)  It will be the best breakfast you have all day.  The orange juice alone makes it worth choosing this non-ubiquitous chain over Double T (at least during daylight hours), but the fact that the meal isn't soaked with grease is another plus (at least for those of us with sensitive stomachs).  
Trolling on Tuesday is my attempt at a series where readers would share three things with other HowChow readers -- favorite restaurant dishes, food to buy, food experiences, etc.  Click here for all the Trolling posts.  Click here for the explanation and the rules.  Anyone can submit.


Anonymous said...

Though I've never had the salad she mentions, I did eat at Ramshead on Saturday and all 3 of us agreed that it was among the worst dining experiences we've had. The service was awful and all our food was shockingly bland except for the beef satay which was unbearably salty... I am shocked to see that anyone would recommend eating there after the appalling experience we had, but maybe all their kitchen staff called in sick and the servers were preparing the food? Because that's pretty much the only way to explain how bad it was...

jilli42 said...

I've eaten at Ramshead many times and have always enjoyed the food. Maybe the chef was off when you ate there. Go back, try the Cream of Crab soup or the Granny Chicken Sandwich. Neither of which is bland or overseasoned to the point of being salty.

Anonymous said...

Actually the Granny Chicken Sandwich was one of the dishes we had. A dry unseasoned chicken breast topped with apple slices and brie, no condiments, no flavor, I barely choked down half of it...

Jessica said...

Like I said before, to each his own. But if a sandwich is totally bland and lacking in any condiments, why not ask for some sauce rather than sit and silently stew over food you can only choke down? Bland food is easily fixed.

I've never had bad service at Ramshead, though I did have a server once who was noticeably high. Thankfully we weren't in a hurry, and he made for some good entertainment.

Marcia said...

We've eaten at Ramshead a couple of times and never had good service, never had food that was particularly good. Ugh.

As to eggs over easy - that's the only way to go !! The weekday morning cook at the Bob Evans on Rt. 175 & Rt. 108 makes the eggs just right. Perfect for dunking my toast.

Once I heard about all the sexual harassment claims against the Double T restaurants, I just don't want to give them any more of my money. Some of the claims seem to have some truth to them, I love the Double T's challah french toast, but just don't want to support them any more.

BikeTraveller said...

Rams Head has great beer and the bar munchies like fries, nachos, and chicken wings are good. I wouldn't recommend it as a dining destination. The main dishes are similar to fare from Chilis, Fridays, and the like. Service for me with at least 75 visits in the last 5 years has always been spotty. I have gotten better service at the Tavern bar than a table. It feels to me like much of the issue is they intentionally understaff perhaps to save money.

Jen said...

Marcia- Agree re: Double T.

chris said...

Hubby and I used to love Rams Head, but recently we've noticed a steep decline in the quality of the service. It is slow and spotty at best. A shame, because their beer is great, but I'm not into being ignored (which has happened on several occasions).

Vk@Nyte said...

to the issues of the kitchen: that's odd,no really. I worked there from june of '06 til october of last year and in my whole time there, there was only a few instances that i can remember that where the food wasn't cooked to the desired temp or wasn't was expected.The menu when I left had changed and had brought back a bunch of dishes that customers had wanted again.So for your meals to be truly that bad-well asomething truly was amiss in the kitchen. I know the cooks personally and know that even on their bad days they do a better if not decent job on making the dishes.
2. a new management staff was introduced in late 2007 and was put in place to fix issues with consitency in the kitchen as well as in the front house.Some individuals that were there since day 1 had quit or were terminated later(the day bartender who brought in the regs,when he left they left too).A new staff was hired and over a short period of time it seemed that new ideas and organizational issues were being mended,however another turnover of staff happened right after the holidays which left the restaurant considerably short staffed walking into Mother's day-the busiest restaurant day of the year.Tables were sat but food went out terribly slow and by the second and third rotation of tables,the kitchen was so backed up that I actually had to tell tables that were being sat that it would be at least 40min to an hour before I could even get them an appetizer!!!
Worst day in my 20 yr restaurant career.Anyway after that debacle,there was a push for more staff-however of all the restaurants in Howard County,Ramshead has a "Pooling tip" policy,which means if are the best server-you still share your tips with the staff including the upstairs bartender...It is definitely a humbling and depressing feeling that after busting your ass all night to only walk with 120 dollars even though your total tips were at least 200 dollars. This is their main issue or at least one of them.
Also you run your own food,bus your own tables and still have to tip out to a busser who never happens to be around or is trying to chat up the hostess.Now don't get me wrong-I'm from the old school where we tipped out those that helped us all day/night personally.But you can't even make enough there to do even that!!
You have sections but you don't own them.There is a cleaning schedule but people get out of it.
At one point their selling pointin order to keep staff was a "shift beer" that was free per your end of shift-that ended because someone at another restaurant abused it,which thanks to that the amount of DUI/DWI's rose among the staff. Then after one of our busiest summers,a whole hand of us were terminated prior to the holiday rush, including me who many said was the glue to the place-I don't agree with that but since then old regulars who had stuck through the changes with staff and new regulars who had acclimated themselves to the staff including me have not gone back or have decided that they had had enough.Other staff that were great if not better than me with customers have since either quit or been terminated. there are only 2 out of the 20-30 staff members(not counting the kitchen)including management that are still there from when I started.

Great service comes from happy,prideful,caring,conscientious staff who love their job.

A good or great word of mouth is shared by all and endures.

I have tried to keep those who intend to eat there away only because out of fairness to those who suffer there and to those who intend to eat or drink there that nothing will keep that ship from sinking until the owner decides to sell it to someone who actually knows what they are doing and can revitalize that place.

To those who had a wonderful time: then that means that they did their job right the first time and if you go back it should be even better!If you remember your server next time,tip them well and make sure they don't forget you.

Anonymous said...

lol. I go to eggspectations because of the ORANGE JUICE AS WELL. The food isn't any good. Dont try the pulled pork huevo whatchamacallit. Its very interesting...had to take several bites in order to actually understand the flavor.