Set along a clotted section of York Road in Cockeysville, Piv's Pub shares its immediate surroundings with car dealerships, a travel agency and a fast-food burger joint.
First impressions: Very un-pub-like, Piv's decor is clean lines and uncluttered walls, its colors muted. It offers a selection of booths and tables of various capacities at various stages of remove from the bar proper. Piv's looks like it wants to be all things to all families.
The dish: Lunch can be had here for under $10, as the Reuben proved during this visit. Several more sandwiches fall in that range. The low-end burger, a 10-ouncer, is $9.99.
All the lunch picks, sandwiches, "light fare" and burgers, hover in the $9 to $12 range with only the crab cake sandwich at $15 badly busting the budget.
The Reuben was solidly built on mild rye, lightly grilled. None of the interior ingredients particularly wowed. Places that deservedly set their corned beef on a pedestal can go weak in all other parts because everyone will leave raving about the Reuben's centerpiece brisket.
Piv's brings together average pub level quality. You won't find a 2-inch stack of corned beef. The kraut's a nice canned version. Likewise, the cheese and dressing are commendable rather than exceptional.
But the whole makes for a big sandwich with a fair balance of contents. The big deal here is that you won't have to fight the corned beef. It was fall-apart tender. If you've had half the meat pull from your Reuben on the first bite, you know the fear of tough corned beef in a piping hot sandwich: messy and disappointing. Not a problem here.
Piv's fries beat the common bagged staples of mid-range restaurant fare. They have a fluffy filling, reminiscent of mashed potatoes, with a crunchy, grainy casing. Piv's certainly got it right on this visit.
Parting thoughts: You can see how Piv's might light up at night, with every imaginable electronically generated ding and buzz issuing from the play room, a half a dozen distinct programs flashing frenetically from flat screens, and a music track permeating the elevated volume of pub talk. For all its potential as a bustling sports bar, Piv's is also a good choice for a quiet lunch — business or pleasure.
Where: 9811 York Road, Cockeysville
Contact: 410-666-7487, pivspub.com
Lunch hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
Lunch entrées: $8.49-$14.99
[Key: Outstanding: ✭✭✭✭ Good: ✭✭✭ Fair or Uneven: ✭✭ Poor: ✭]