Warning! Do not read the following blog post if you are hungry... actually, on second thought, only read the following post if you are hungry.
Disclaimer: I am not responsible for any gastronomic overindulgence that may result from reading the following post.
And, with that, I present to you, "Trevor's Official Top 10 Places to Eat in Howard County, MD."
10. Tersiguel's - I have only been here twice, but it still makes the top ten list. The first time I went there was for my senior prom. I was so unsophisticated, I had to ask the waiter what a tenderloin was (I saw "loin" and got really worried). My second time at Tersiguel's was with my wife for our first wedding anniversary. It blew us away with the little touches, such as the way the chef's father (and I believe original owner) greeted us at the door and made us Crepes Suzette table-side, to the impeccable service, to the way they gave us little packages of shortbread as a gift when we left. I certainly is not inexpensive, but for a special occasion, you absolutely get what you pay for.
9. Crossroads Pub - My theory with crabs is the less glamorous and more off the beaten path a crab place is, the better the crabs will be. Crossroads is way off the beaten path, and is definitely not glamorous. This has the best local crabs in my opinion. Go there on a beautiful summer day with a group of family or friends, get a few beers, and a big ol' pile of crabs, and I guarantee you will have a good time.
8. The Meadows - The newest place on the list. This is a chain, with about 15 locations around rural Pennsylvania and Maryland. The Columbia location opened about a month ago in the Hickory Ridge Village Center. Until recently, our standby for cold dessert was Rita's in Kings Contrivance or Harper's Choice. But, The Meadows has overtaken Rita's as the place to go to fulfill that sweet tooth craving. My favorite thing is The Turtle, a combination of vanilla custard, caramel, hot fudge and pecans. Be warned though, it is not easy to finish The Turtle on your own and not get in a sugar coma about 15 minutes after.
7. Clyde's - This place is a Columbia icon. As far back as I can remember, my family has been going to Clyde's to celebrate special occasions. In my opinion, it is quite possibly the best first date restaurant in Howard County. You take your date there at about 6pm, on a nice Saturday Evening. Eat a crab cake or two. After dinner, you walk around the lakefront and feed the ducks. If a band is playing, grab a blanket from your car, sit down, and enjoy. If the night gets cold, put your arm around your date. Bam! Guaranteed second date. Clyde's bonus factoid: You can order off the Tomato Palace menu at Clyde's and off the Clyde's menu at Tomato Palace, as they share the same kitchen. (Knowing this makes you an official Columbian. Congrats, you are now officially a Columbian!)
6. China Chef - Over the years, my taste in HoCo Chinese Food has changed dramatically. Growing up, my family loved the place in the Kings Contrivance Village Center. Sadly, in recent years, the quality of that restaurant has fallen. As we got older, Hunan Manor became the place to go. Eventually, Hunan Manor also declined dramatically in quality. Now, our go to place is China Chef. I am a big fan of the Chicken with Cashews. The Mrs. likes the "Hunan Chicken Not Spicy," as she orders it. We always get Chicken Creme of Corn Soup (basically Eggdrop soup with chicken in it). It is very much regular ol' Chinese food, but they are consistently great quality. If you eat there, they give you warm towels, orange slices and lemon sorbet after your meal.
5. House of India - I have three words for you. Meal. For. Two. Go there with more than two people, probably 3-4, and order the Meal for Two (just one Meal for Two for 3-4 people). Trust me, you will not be disappointed. The staff is incredibly friendly and the food is delicious. My favorite dish is the Vegetable Korma, which comes in the Meal for Two. With the meal for two you get Lentil Soup, choice of several different proteins, excellent bread, amazing rice, the aforementioned Vegetable Korma, and rice pudding. If you order a Meal for Two for two people, you will have enough leftovers to last for 4 more meals.
4. Coal Fire Pizza - My favorite pizza place in HoCo. Honorable mention to Pasta Blitz, Trattoria E Pizzeria, and Facci. Of all these places, Coal Fire take the pie (hehe, get it?). The pizza has a great thin, crispy crust. The toppings and cheese are clearly extremely fresh. And the sauce... man the sauce is what does it for me. My favorites are the Rustic Read, and the Margarita. We are great friends with the bartender Breina, and always sit at the bar, so I have never actually sat in the restaurant part. If you go to the bar, tell Breina I say, "hi."
3. Bon Fresco - The place to go if you want a sandwich or salad. The bread, especially the ciabatta, is out of this world. I usually get the Turkey Platter, which comes in a bowl with greens, humus, olive tapenade, Israeli couscous, turkey breast and a nice loaf of ciabatta. Delicious and healthy. Well, it's healthy until you get one of their fudgy, thick, chocolaty brownies. I am so happy Bon Fresco appears to be growing in popularity quickly, because I hope it stays around for years to come.
2. Sushi King - The runner up for best place to eat in HoCo, but the winner of my absolute favorite dish in HoCo. My favorite dish in HoCo is the Vegetarian Delight Roll. I love classic raw fish sushi as much as the next guy, but something about the Vegetarian Delight Roll just makes me so happy. I'm not sure if it the awesome combination of textures, crunchy, soft, and smooth, that you get in each bite. Or perhaps it is the unbelievable dipping sauce that comes with it. Often, the Mrs. and I will each get our own Vegetarian Delight Roll, because they are just too good to share! Really though, all of their special rolls are excellent. For an entertaining culinary experience sit at the sushi bar and watch the chefs create edible works of art right in front of you.
And now, the winner of my favorite place in HoCo to eat... drumroll please....
1. Maiwand Kabob - I have seen Maiwand grow and mature over the last few years, and I feel like it has reached the HoCo culinary peak. There are many places that do kabobs well in HoCo, but none do them as well as Maiwand. My favorite meal there is the chicken kabob. I usually get the pumpkin appetizer to replace the salad in my meal. It costs a dollar more, but I feel it is a dollar well spent. I also really enjoy the kofta kabob. Everything is great about Maiwand. The kabobs are always perfectly cooked. The bread is always extremely fresh (as in, they took it out of the Tandori oven about 20 seconds before they hand it to you), and the rice is soft and flavorful. I give Maiwand a lot of credit for taking the risk and opening up in the Harper's Choice Village Center when it was still relatively blighted. Along with Rita's and the renovated Safeway, Maiwand is probably responsible for much of the revitalization of that Village Center.
There are many more awesome places to eat in HoCo. I could probably do a top 30 list if I really tried. I am excited, because I know many new places will open in the future. Perhaps I'll have to come back in a year, and update this list.