Wednesday, December 05, 2007


While I enjoy spending my time reading, researching and eating good food, sometimes "good food" means something a little more "down home." A little more like you ate when you were young. Today was one of those mornings.

Not too far from my house in Cockeysville is the Ashland Cafe. It's a greasy spoon kinda place that serves breakfast all day, has daily specials no more than ten bucks, keeps tasty fried chicken in a warming cabinet, offers Lotto tickets and the ubiquitous "Greek Specialties" that all East Coast diners seem to have. It's been there for years and if you're not seated by 8am Sunday morning, it's going to be a long wait as the place is packed on weekends.

This morning I was in the mood for some American breakfast so off to Ashland I went. They've upgraded the place over the years and while the environs are warm country, it's just a simple eatery with a suspended train track running the perimeter of the small dining room. This past summer, they did some work on part of the exterior and I believe they created outdoor seating in the vacant lot next door, but I haven't eaten in that part.

The coffee here is the typical weak dreck you find in most diners but it's oddly comforting. Add some sugar and a good helping of cream and it's passable - as long as there's a pancake to go with it. My breakfast this morning consisted of their Ham & Cheese Omelet, one pancake, side order of french fries (for texture, of course) and an order of toast (that came with the omelette).

If I was in some sort of "nice" restaurant, I would probably be aghast as the omelette but here, it's perfect. The scrambled egg (most probably from a box) were rudimentary but pan burned brown, the ham was nothing special and the cheese was those yellow American cheese slices that are found in almost every refrigerator. It was decidedly low-brow and blue collar, but damn was it good. Seems that everything tastes good with a serious helping of American cheese on top. Slather some hot sauce over the omelette and it's just brilliant.

The fries were frozen shoestring and done to a nice crisp. Nothing fancy. The toast was a deep brown just as I like it and slathered with butter (again, as I like it). That's a point of note: it's such a treat when the kitchen has taken the time to pre-slather your bread with butter and it comes out melted and dripping. Lovely. None of this messing with cold pats of butter and trying haphazardly to spread it on - especially after it's had a few moments to cool on the trip from the kitchen to your table.

The pancake was nicely done. Soft, airy, fluffy and chewy. Layer on some butter and pour the imitation maple syrup on heavy and you're good to go.

It wasn't "fine dining" but it certainly was soul dining.

The Ashland Cafe
10810 York Road
Cockeysville, MD 21030

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