I’m not much for televised sports. When my husband Dave and daughters are watching Ravens or Caps games, I typically whittle away at my pile of old newspapers and magazines. They know they can lure me to the couch with a big, cozy fire.
But even I can get caught up in a big game – like on New Year’s Eve, when the Bengals busted the Ravens’ chance for the playoffs.
The emotional roller coaster came to a screeching halt when the Bengals’ Tyler Boyd scored the winning touchdown with 44 seconds left in the game. I shrugged – “win some, lose some” -- but Dave mumbled and fussed through the waning hours of 2017.
Such is the draw of Langways, where the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat are splayed before your eyes on 15 big-screen TVs lining the ample bar with more in the dining room. General Manager Brent Bayline puts the final count at 32!
In sports-like fashion, the volume of the dining room was pitted against the volume of the adjacent bar area three days before Christmas. Our dining side lost. Seriously, we could hardly hear each other across the table.
So maybe it’s not the best spot for a first date or heart-to-heart discussion, but Langways knows what it is: a Cheers-like place to connect with friends, watch the game, toss back a beer or two, and get some good pass-arounds or a decent meal made fresh in-house.
Owner Willy Koutroumpis, who also owns Willy K’s Sports Café in Greenbelt, operated the first Langways in the ‘80s and ‘90s in Lanham before launching this latest iteration in 2015. He and hockey great Rod Langway, the Caps’ former “Secretary of Defense,” are good friends.
Our friends had given Langways’ burgers high marks, so we headed down Rt. 450 to Staples Corner and almost drove right past it. Langways’ windowless exterior can give a “dive bar” impression, but once inside, the atmosphere is bright and cheerful.
We peeked out back where a couple of hardy souls were watching a game by the fireplace at the outdoor bar bordered by a large patio. I imagine that space is a lot of fun on a warm night during baseball season. There’s even a play area for kids, complete with cornhole and arcade games back there.
We arrived just before the 7 p.m. close of Happy Hour specials on select domestic beers ($2.50 on tap / $2.75 bottles), house wines ($4.50) and rail drinks ($3). We also took advantage of the $2 discount on appetizers.
With no Caps game to distract them, I could get a focused answer from the family to: “What do you think of the appetizers?”
The hummus eaters liked their plate of dip with celery and carrot sticks (reg. $6.95). After stacking wood for two hours that day, I dove into the cheesy buffalo chicken dip (reg. $9.95) with pita chips without regard to the calorie count.
Emily, starting a healthy eating kick early, opted for a cup of chicken chili ($3.95), which was well seasoned and satisfying. Her fiancé John, who usually orders big, chose the “mega” grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and tomato ($6.95), served with house-made potato chips.
Julia ordered fish tacos ($16.95) – blackened swordfish with cabbage slaw, tomato, jalapeno and chipotle mayonnaise. They weren’t the best we’ve ever had – we get these often – but they weren’t bad, either. Hot, crispy fries came alongside.
As a starter, Dave enjoyed a cup of hot, hearty clam chowder ($3.95), chunky with clams, potatoes, and flavorful bits of bacon. He followed up with the prime rib special ($17.95) – a good-size cut with savory mashed potatoes and a bright vegetable medley of broccoli, grape tomatoes and red onions.
My favorite entrée was my blackened tuna steak ($17.95), appropriately pink in the middle. It could have done with a bit more seasoning, but overall was a good-sized, high-quality piece of fish. I also enjoyed the potatoes and veggie medley. No doggy bag this time!
In the spirit of the season (excess!), we split two desserts ($9.98 total) – Heath-bar cheesecake and a warm brownie with a “pretzel” crust (more like cookie crumbs) with vanilla ice cream. They satisfied the old sweet tooth.
We managed to hear snippets of “Frankie G.” singing and playing guitar from the far side of the bar. Amy, our attentive server, said there’s live music every Friday night.
Interestingly, Amy brought us little packets of lemon-scented towelettes. What sports bar does that? Maybe they come in handy to dry your tears when your team goes down in defeat. But we wafted out of Langways in a jolly mood ready for Christmas, with a resolution to return in the New Year on the sports flipside to check out that fun patio. “Lose 10 pounds” is so 2017.
Happy New Year’s eating, everyone!
Langways All-American Sports Bar and Grill
WHERE: 1357 Defense Highway, Gambrills
HOURS: Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.
OWNER: Willy Koutroumpis
CHEF: Joe Wintz
APPETIZERS: $6.95 to $12.95
SOUPS/SALADS: $3.95 to $9.95
BURGERS/SANDWICHES: $8.95 to $14.95
ENTREES: $12.95 to $24.95
RESERVATIONS: Not required
CREDIT CARDS: All major cards
OF NOTE: Happy Hour drink specials 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, with $2 off appetizers from 4 to 7 p.m. Half-priced burgers on Mondays. Live music Friday nights.