Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Crofton Restaurants: Dining in the 'hood

Sometimes, you just don't want to travel far for a good meal. Staying close to home is just what the doctor ordered, but when you live in the burbs, your options are not always "haute cuisine". People who know me well, know that I'm not a food snob, I just really love to eat. None of these places are going to be winning a James Beard Award this year, but they definitely have my won my heart. Here are some short takes on some of our favorite places in and around our beloved Crofton.

Fuji Japanese Steak House Hibachi & Sushi Bar

Fuji Steak House is the typical Teppan Yaki joint with table side cooking by Japanese chefs with big knives and cheesey jokes. We've seen it all before and if you're in the mood to set your eyebrows on fire, it's one of the better places for Japanese Steak House cuisine.But... the real reason to go to Fuji is for the sushi. We've been fans of the sushi bar here since their first days in business. Always fresh and artful presentations. If Live Scallop is on the menu that day, that it's a must try. We love the specialty rolls and the high quality sashimi. I love the Chirashi sushi, raw fish on seasoned rice. It always includes Tamago, the sweet egg omelet and delicious chunks of white tuna. Complete sushi dinners come with Miso soup and salad. You can request the Sui Mono (mushroom soup) for a change if you don't want Miso. If you love sushi... like I love sushi... then Fuji is the place for you.

1314 Main Chapel Way Gambrills, MD 21054 (410) 721-6880

Mi Casita

Mi Casita is a great neighborhood spot and definitely makes up for the lack of decent Mexican food in the Crofton area. Above average Mexican fare with a nod to traditional Tex Mex specialties, but with some decidely more authentic offerings. I love the Tacos al Pastor. Corn tortillas with marinated skirt steak and a snappy pico de gallo. Other interesting menu items include the Fish tacos (breaded and fried Tilapia ) or carne asada. Their carnitas are good and unusual, marinated with chunks of pineapple. Service is always friendly and efficient. Chips and salsa are also quite good.Warm and relaxed decor, which is a VAST improvement over Nick's Diner which held the space previously. Mi Casita is definitely a welcome addition to the 'hood, not just as a Mexican restaurant, but as another great place to eat in Crofton.

1334 Defense Hwy Gambrills, MD 21054 (410) 451-3296


Allison's Restaurant

Cozy and quaint, Allison's opened just about two years ago and is one of those places you almost have to know about to find. Located in the Priest Bridge strip center of Crofton MD on Defense Highway Allison's serves above average new American cuisine and remains one of the Bowie/Crofton/Annapolis area's "best kept secrets". We love the Fried oyster appetizer and typically fight over who gets to order the Hickory Grilled Pork Chop with Jalapeno Cranberry Sauce, Basil Red Skin Mashed Potatoes, & Creamed Spinach. Nightly specials are offered. Seafood entree's are a standout along with some of the pasta selections. Service is generally good, although we have encountered some inexperienced waiters on occassion. Overall a great neighborhood stop. However, our most recent visit seemed to lack some of the pizzaz of Allison's early days. We are hopeful that is not a trend.I know it's overdone, but their Tiramisu is fantastic. Everything a good Tiramisu should be and the perfect ending to good meal.

2207 Defense Hwy Crofton, MD 21114 (410) 721-0331


Hunan L'rose

This is a great "American" style Chinese restaurant with all of the classics, reasonably priced and done well. Fried Pot-Stickers, Orange Beef, Sesame Chicken, Seafood Bird's Nest and Beef Chow Fun are a few of our favorites. The restaurant decor is dated (lots of pink --- big aquarium--- cheesy music) but clean and service is always friendly, fast and efficient. Great neighborhood spot if you are not looking for anything too exotic.

1131 Annapolis Rd Odenton, MD 21113 (301) 621-9388

4 Seasons Grille

High style in the burbs. 4 Season's Grille is another quality link in the Monte Restaurant Group chain, which also operates Cafe Mezzanote, Pomo Grille, Carpaccio (soon to open) and Squisito Pizza (several locations). 4 Season's offers a heathy array of steaks, pasta and seafood with a mediterranean twist. It's hard to go wrong with any of the items on the menu. Try the Pappardelle pasta with Lamb Ragu. Luscious large ribbons of pasta with a deep and satisfying meat sauce. The double pork chop with caramelized pears,gorgonzola cheese and prosciutto is to die for. 4 Season's is also open for brunch, and lunch. Speaking of lunch... they make a "kick-butt" burger, 100% ground filet mignon, which at $7.95, including fries or a salad, makes me forget all about the herd of mediocre chain restaurants like Applebees, Chilis or Ruby Tuesday. Why not eat in style?

2630 Chapel Lake Dr Gambrills, MD 21054 (410) 451-5141

Nautilus Diner

Overlooking Highway 3, in a building which looks like a cross between a diner on steroids and a lighthouse, the Nautilus opened in Crofton a scant year ago, and quickly established itself as THE go to spot for casual fare in the area. It is the sister restaurant of a Timonium diner of the same name and everything you would expect of a classic east coast Greek diner. We love it for breakfast. The challah bread french toast is a standout. In the evening, it's anything goes with offerings ranging from chicken fried steak to lamb chops to a Gyro platter (and everything in between). One of my favorite entree selections is the crab stuffed shrimp. Ridicously large shrimp are stuffed with so much crab, it really looks like they just stuck shrimp under a crab cake. Desserts tend to look better than they actually taste, but you can't go wrong with a piece of fruit pie or a hand made milkshake. The owners are very friendly and the vast majority of the service staff go out of there way to be helpful.

1709 Transportation Blvd Crofton, MD 21114 (410) 451-8515


So there you have it! There is some civilization past the beltway. Come out and see us sometime. I know where we can eat.


Mick said...

Clearly you all have been more adventurous (as usual) in exploring the Nautilus menu than I have. It's funny -- I almost always leave with a decent dining experience there, but from the beginning, I have never quite warmed to it. But it is nice to have a decent diner close by where you can always drop in. And I will admit, some of the staff can be quite friendly.

330toSRT8 said...

Thanks for this review of Crofton restaurants. It's exactly what I was looking for since I needed a place for Sunday brunch in that area. -Adrian