Tuesday, October 24, 2006

R&R at The Ram's Head

After my brief sojourn to Caffe Pronto in Annapolis yesterday, I called my dear old friend R., who does black ops for the Erlich Administration, to see if she had time to catch up and eat. It's two weeks from the hotly contested race for Maryland governor and she's forehead-deep into whatever they do to get re-elected and keep their jobs, but she made some time to see an old friend for a fifteen minute meal before jetting off to some other secret agenda. Just like old times, except for the three beefy guys in dark suits and menacing bulges of automatic weapons under their jackets.

How about Macaroni Grill?
After last Monday, I didn't know how to respond to that.
Well, how about someplace different?, I offered.
Let's meet at Ram's Head.

The Ram's Head Tavern. It's an Annapolis institution. And a damn nice music venue. And the place I met that other R who I spent two and a half years chasing. Not the best of memories.

But I can put my romantic pain and misery behind me. Forget about the longing and hurt. I've had a month and a half to recover and refocus. I'm okay now. I'm okay to eat at Ram's Head without all the memories flooding back.

I feel a tingle.

Perhaps that's because I elected to wear shorts today and it's 34 degrees out.

Walk into the Ram's Head and it's a true taste of Maryland. Everyone is sporting "the uniform" of khakis, brown shoes, button down and maybe a tie. Everyone looks and dresses the same. If you've ever seen the movie Wedding Crashers, that's exactly what I mean. And coming from a prep school background, it almost makes me want to puke because I got out of high school so I wouldn't have to dress like I did in high school.

The owners of the Ram's Head also own Fordham Micro Brewery. The brewery adjoins the restaurant/bar/venue and I'm feeling interested in trying a beer. Give me the Oktoberfest. Too bad it's too cold to sit outside in the courtyard because I've got a hot nut for the PG Belicoso Maduro cigar sitting in my pocket.

Anyway, let's cut to the chase. This is about the food and the food is, well, "pub food." Nothing to get excited about or write home to mamma. Started out with the beer battered onion rings which were quite good. Very good, in fact. But it was one of those nights where I was in the mood for more fried foods and decided that I would start with the rings and then progress into the Steak Chili with all the "fixings" and a side of fries. R ordered the crab cake with rice.

The chili sounded promising, but that was about it. The "fixings" were more cheese, jalapenos, tortilla chips - basically crappy filler for an extra buck fifty. It's a shame too because I suspect the chili could have been much better without all that stuff.

The real down point came with the fries. I don't understand what possesses humans to bludgeon and violate something so natural and so perfect as the french fried potato. Too many places use that shitty frozen batter dipped french fries and Ram's Head is one of those places. And they came out on the cold side. Jesus, can you help me please? This abomination should be outlawed.

R's crab cake looked decent. She didn't finish it but she did take it home so it probably wasn't too bad. For dessert, we split a chocolate cake. Not too bad, I liked the choc chips on the outside layer.

In the end, the food wasn't very good. But I suspect that it's good enough for most of their usual patrons - especially if you're consuming a pitcher or four of their brewskis.

Next time I'll stick with their Fish and Chips.

Sins from the Dark Confessional


That's the word. Stoked.

That's exactly how I feel at the moment.

In the galaxy that is quality coffee, our little shop is at the point farthest from the bright center. We're in the outland. The far flung planets. The Outer Rim. The Border Planets. The Hind End of Space. Tattooine.

Because of this, every blue moon we have some supply line problems. Deliveries from the Center of the Universe take a bit longer than anticipated and we run dangerously low on coffee. And maybe one time out of fifty, we actually run out of coffee and must source coffee locally. It's not something to be proud of but it does happen.

For the past sixteen hours we've been serving what I consider to be Elegant Dreck. Coffee of questionable lineage and dubious origin. And just a small amount of coffee at that, meaning that we've stretched things a bit. Slightly lower on the TDS levels, different brewing techniques. Longer than optimal holding times. It's been a horrific day and a half.

Imagine running out of your daily coffee, as well as your decaf and espresso coffees. That's the nightmare. Compound that with turning to the local roaster who's not quite up to the level you desire and that's the reality. It's been so bad that I haven't drank the coffee and I've been encouraging our customers to try something different - something that will mask the odd taste of the coffee. A little raspberry and white chocolate syrup? A lot, perhaps?

It was so bad that I made the hour-long trek down to Caffe Pronto in Annapolis to source a five pound bag of their Espresso Vincente. I have to say, it's a beautiful and tasty espresso - and one that I'm not ashamed to serve to our customers.

The FedEx website said to expect delivery by 4:30pm tomorrow. Crap. That's a long time to wait for coffee. Screwed.

You can't imagine the elation I experienced as the FedEx guy came rolling up the elevator with our eighty pounds of glory from Hines Public Market Coffee.

It was almost as good as being told by the Magic 8-Ball that four girls are currently in love/desire with me...