Monday, March 5, 2012

Western Howard County -- A First Step In Restaurants, Markets And More West of Rte 32

South Mountain Creamery
The Howard County of Columbia and Ellicott City may be sprawling compared to big cities, but they're the big time compares to Howard County west of Rte 32.  Out in the western county, there are fewer options, but that doesn't mean you need to settle at all.

I'm not an expert on the western county, but people have joined in before with comments that collect places like J&Y Tokyo Market in Eldersburg and Town Grill in Lisbon.  Babs dropped her list on a post next month.  Now Annie of the AnnieRie Unplugged blog has offered up an entire guest post of joints for locals to try.  Annie posts regularly about food, especially local sourcing, and she has started an entire series about living out in the western county.

For HowChow, she stepped in with a primer on food in the west county -- where to eat, where to shop: 
We ate out quite a bit more when we lived in Columbia and commuted to DC, than we do now that we live in west county, mainly because it is less convenient to go out. More of that is from being retired. We may run around all day so lunch is usually the time we eat out, and if we are home all day, we don't feel like getting all dolled up (in other words, changing out of our farmer jeans with dirt, grease or whatever on the knees) and fighting rush hour traffic to get to a restaurant.
Crossroads Pub
If we want a dinner out, it used to be pop down to Iron Bridge or El Azteca, which aren't all that far away in Clarksville.  MD's was OK for burgers, as was going to happy hour at the River Hill Sports Grille.  Since we worked in DC and parked at the Ten Oaks Ballroom, we continued to find places near Rte. 32 to meet for dinner. 
Friday night for crabs at the Crossroads on the way north was a summertime treat every month. 
Then, BistroBlanc opened in Glenelg and, since we loved Marc's cooking from Iron Bridge and Café de Paris, we made a point to stop there occasionally on a Tuesday for half price wine, grilled flatbread and risotto.  Almost the same order whenever we stopped in. 
Nowadays, lunch at Player's in Waverly Woods is where I go with other volunteers from the Conservancy. I judge a place by how they cook calamari, and Players passed that test on my first visit.  They replaced Mangia and have an outdoor sports bar with big screen TVs. 
For special occasions, when I am not in the mood to cook, we gravitated to Baldwin Station and The Inn at Brookeville Farms. Neither one is in Howard County but they are just across county lines in Carroll and Montgomery respectively.  Baldwin Station has the appeal of watching the CSX trains go past, and their food was usually above average.  The Inn at Brookeville Farms is a treat.  Historic, quiet, and fine dining.  All made from scratch. 
There are lots of new choices out here, but I admit we haven't been going out more than once a week, and lately, getting together with friends means coming to Columbia so our recent west county dining is sparse at best. 
As for shopping, depending on where you live, the big four options for groceries include Enchanted Forest Safeway, Waverly Woods Weis, Lisbon Food Lion or Clarksville Giant.  None of these are closer than eight miles from us.  When we worked, we used Clarksville Giant before heading out of the Park and Ride in Clarksville, or I hit Roots if I wanted organic. 
Now, the grocery stores are a minimum contributor to our food stores.  Fresher, sometimes organic and sometimes less expensive options for food have come from seeking out the small local purveyors directly.  For things that we can buy in bulk and store, we use Costco, either Columbia or Frederick. Frederick, although farther in distance, is shorter in time for me to drive.  While there, I can hit the Common Market Co-op, bigger with more loose bulk food items (organic), than Roots.  Less expensive as well. And, they have a café with great smoothies, panini, soups and salads.  They are just south of Costco and easy to reach from I-70. 
Meats - Boarman's in Highland for special items only a butcher can deliver.  TLV Tree Farm, order on line and pick up, or visit the farmer's market at the Howard County General Hospital in the summer.  Woodcamp Farm at the Glenwood Farmer's Market or order on line.  South Mountain Creamery delivers once a week to you door, along with dairy.  You would not believe how many places we see their cow-painted vans on our back roads.  We are getting one meat item a week delivered this winter in our Zahradka Farms CSA basket, and eggs bi-weekly. Wagon Wheel Ranch in Mt. Airy will sell 50 lb. minimum assortment boxes or quarters, halves or whole beef, lamb, or pork. Wagner's Meats in Mt. Airy has some meat in the cases at the store in Mt. Airy but also sells bulk whole, half, quarter or mixed assorted meats.
Seafood - J&T in Woodbine, or Sea King in Ellicott City.  The only alternatives to Today's Catch, which is still my favorite place to find the freshest fish.  I have bought a few items at H Mart, as well. 
Farm Stands - Jenny's on Rt. 32 buys from the Jessup produce distributors as well as local farmers.  Breezy Willow on Rt. 99 sells their own at the farm plus a few local farms, and has meat and dairy from other local farms. Sharp's at Waterford on Jennings Chapel.  Later in the year, they have produce but in spring it is mostly seedlings and flowers at their greenhouses.  Larriland Farms pick your own in Woodbine.  Simply the biggest and best selection of berries, fruits, veggies to pick plus a farm store. 
Glenwood Farmer's Market - Saturdays May through October.  Vendors include South Mountain Creamery, Woodcamp Farm, Breezy Willow, Lewis Orchards, The Breadery, the Cosmic Bean coffee purveyor, Just a Little Peace and Quiet Farm, L&D Trout Baked Goods, The Zahradka Farm, and seedlings from the Greenway Farm.
Breezy Willow Farm
CSAs - there are a number that serve Howard County,  Currently, I use Zahradka Farm in the winter (they have no competition in the winter), and Sandy Spring CSA in the summer. They deliver to the Howard County Conservancy on Mondays so ot is easy to pick up the box when I volunteer.  I know of two other CSAs with farms in west county: Breezy Willow and Roundabout Farm. 
I am putting together master lists of county farmer's markets vendors, plus adding local sources constantly to my resource page.  As I find new sources, I will be popping over to tell HowChow.  Between us, we will be striving to search out new places to buy food, and eat.  Happy Hunting!
Check out Annie's locavore resource page on the AnnieRie Unplugged blog.  I'd love other suggestions as well.  I added a new tag for "Western Howard," and I'll try to annotate future posts.

1 comment:

Alicyn DelZoppo said...

Wow, she certainly covered a lot of it. I love Bistro Blanc but just don't get out there enough.