Saturday, January 7, 2012

Maryland Yards

2033 Dorsett Village Center
Maryland Heights, MO

Doug and Rob invited me to tag along again. Apparently I haven’t offended them too much yet. I was excited to hear Doug suggest Maryland Yards; I’d been wanting to review this place for quite a while. I’d been two or three times in the last few months and liked it every time.
The Place:
Located just a couple of miles from work, it’s a rustic, wood-interior sports bar. The entry is into the bar and the smoking area, in the back is the slightly fresher smelling non-smoking section. Also in the back is a pool table, electronic dart boards and several flat screen TV’s silently playing sports channels. There’s also a modern, digital jukebox-type sound system (TouchTunes) which was, during this visit, somewhat randomly playing songs from the nineties. It wasn’t too loud but it did inhibit mere whispering.
The tables and chairs were rather well-worn wood, of a few different styles. The walls were lined with beer ads and posters. The place wasn’t real busy, about half-full, or slightly less when we got there. Most of the patrons appeared to be like us, khakis and button-down-shirt office workers.
I found a table in the back that allowed me a good view of the whole operation, Doug perched himself across from me, Rob to my left. The tables were big enough to allow plenty of elbow room. The waitress dropped off menus and took our drink orders, tea for Doug and me, water for Rob. She was pleasant and was dressed the same as the rest of the visible staff. Tight jeans, sneakers, and a tight gray, low-cut tee-shirt over a brighter, less lower cut shirt that only showed at the neckline and waist. This was a sports bar which meant there was  a little obligatory exposed and nicely bronzed cleavage; our server also sported a prominent baby bump. After she left we agreed that some women are still attractive even when pregnant. Of course we meant nothing demeaning or chauvinistic by that observation, we’re all proud dads and very happily married men, who just also happen to occasionally appreciate nice things when we see them. Trust me, none of our wives worry too much about us.
The Food:
The handsomely pregnant waitress offered up the daily specials, meat loaf or “a twelve inch chili-dog pizza” the mere thought of which made me nearly barf.
I’d already decided what I wanted, the same thing I’d gotten every time I’d been there. So I ordered the BLT and fries. Rob picked the Philly sandwich with beef, they offer a Philly with chicken as well. I don’t know if chicken is approved by Philadelphia’s sandwich sanctioning organizations or not. It didn’t sound right though. Rob picked fries as well. Doug studied the menu longer, and finally chose the Reuben, with potato salad. He’s done that before, picked an odd side, just to be different I guess.
Our drinks were delivered, I sipped the tea as Rob and Doug sat silently, waiting for my verdict. They were under the impression that tea is important to me. I sniffed it, took a sip and let it swirl in my mouth. I declared it adequate. Not bitter, not cloudy, but not very interesting, or even noticeable.
While we waited we talked about work a bit, mostly the on-call schedule. Rob had recently been tagged by our esteemed boss to manage it and the current posted schedule was about to run out. I mentioned that I just assumed since the current on-call schedule only went to mid-January that there would be no more on-call after that. Kind of like that thing with the Mayan Calendar. Rob informed us otherwise, that he was drawing up a new schedule that would take us all the way to the end of the world, December 21, 2012. I’d been in charge of on-call schedules at a previous job. The first thing I did was to take myself off the rotation. Rob said that that seemed only fair, though he was too chicken to try it himself. On call is a necessary evil in our occupation. IT systems, especially big global ones, occasionally require TLC on holidays, weekends and overnight. Being on call is pretty much a guaranty that you’ll lose some sleep and probably miss some family activities for the period. We always grumble about it, but it’s just part of the job.
I think Rob and Doug discussed sports some, I drifted off and didn’t tune back in until the plates arrived. Simple and ample plating. My BLT was on some big bread, the crispy crinkle fries were stacked high. There was a small ramekin with some form of mayonnaise in it. I tasted it, found it too vinegary and set it aside. There was plenty of bacon, thick and sort of crispy. It wasn’t rubbery, just not brittle. My fries were outstanding.
Doug’s Reuben came with a similar vessel containing Thousand Island dressing. He applied a little, but only a little. He later said he appreciated it that way, letting the diner decide how much to put on. He then tried the potato salad and was not too impressed. He struggled to describe it, what he didn’t like about it, but not being a highly regarded and articulate food critic, he was not able to pinpoint it. I suggested that maybe it was too vinegary, he replied that might be the case.
Star-nosed mole
Rob was pleased with his Philly, “Really tasty.” He said.
Even though Doug wasn’t pleased with the potato salad, that didn’t stop him from completely cleaning his plate by the time Rob and I were only halfway through. Doug eats fast, really fast, he’ll tell you this himself. What he won’t say is that he eats almost as fast as a star-nosed mole.* I asked him if he’d ever been a hostage.
I like this place a lot. I can’t put my finger on why exactly, so it’s probably a combination of things. It’s never been overcrowded, I’ve had slightly better food in other places, the service is good, and the ambiance is comfortable. The price is spot-on, my feast came to $9.20 which is under that unwritten workday lunch rule of $10 maximum. The food was plentiful, but not too-plentiful, and it was all well prepared. Rob was completely content, Doug said he’d pick another side the next time. No fuss, no muss, we were in and out in plenty of time.
I’m not sure about happy hours and evening meals, but for a workday lunch Maryland Yards has everything I like at a reasonable distance and reasonable price. Highly recommended!


* Star-nosed mole. Considered the fastest eating mammal in the animal kingdom. “. . . taking as short as 120 milliseconds (average: 227 milliseconds) to identify and consume individual food items. Its brain decides in the ultra short time of 8 ms if a prey is comestible or not.” (Wikipedia)

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