Dining review: Count on Dandelion Bakery Bistro for pleasant, creative fare

For Howard Magazine

We understand if you can’t make up your mind about what to order at the family-owned Dandelion Bakery Bistro in Glenelg. We couldn’t decide right away, either.

At dinner, the regular menu, seasonal offerings and bakery goodies are all tempting. And the morning and lunch fare look equally delicious.

On a recent evening, we sat at one of the decorative-tile tables, each set with whimsical salt and pepper shakers (we had a piggy and a bunny), and were drawn to the fall dishes. They may have changed by the time you get there, but based on what we devoured, chef-owner Keith Watson will be putting his creativity into whatever specialties he introduces.

Watson has been cooking since 1974, including 20 years at the now-closed Crab Shanty in Ellicott City and eight years at E.W. Becks in Sykesville. He branched out on his own, opening Dandelion in January.

But Watson isn’t alone in the kitchen. His daughter, Gabby, is the pastry chef and cake decorator. She bakes most of the appealing treats in the front glass cases, though some items, like the croissants, come from outside the restaurant.

You don’t have to eat a meal at Dandelion to purchase the baked goods, but you can certainly choose a sweet that appeals to you for dessert, which is what we did.

The three cream-and-chocolate-filled miniature beignets were an airy, delectable finish. Other choices include Smith Island cake, cupcakes and fudge.

There is a formal dessert menu, and we were thrilled with the chocolate pear tart. The chocolate crust with chocolate filling paired well with the thin slices of red-wine poached pears artistically arranged on top.

But before the finale, we started our dinner with a cup of zesty elk chili. Chunks of lean, tender meat added depth to a bold tomato broth punctuated with chickpeas.

We also succumbed to a plate of seasonal Brussels sprouts. The small green orbs, easily pierced with a fork, were lathered with a sultry bacon onion jam that was addictive.

The only wizardry involved in the voodoo pasta was at the chef’s hand. The blackened chicken cubes with penne pasta were bathed in a spicy chipotle cream sauce. A blackened crab cake added to the magic.

A number of sandwiches are presented on the menu, including an Italian panini, a shrimp salad wrap and an organic turkey club. We couldn’t resist an autumnal creation: the pulled pig and fig panini.

It was a luscious masterpiece with house-smoked pork barbecue, port fig puree and oozy Brie. The menu noted that the Berkshire pig was from “Rick Hodiak’s local farm.”

But as much as I appreciated the food I ordered, I know what I’m getting next time — one of the plump burgers. The table next to me ordered three, and each one stood tall and tempting with a knife plunged into its center to keep the layered ingredients intact. Keith Watson said the most popular one is the Angus beef patty with three toppings ($10.50).

You can quench your thirst with cocktails like a grapefruit crush or citrus basil martini, wines that include an Oregon pinot noir and Argentine malbec, and beer on draft and in bottles. There’s a 12-seat bar with a TV in the back that is separate from the main dining room.

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, and offers daily happy-hour prices. The sweet staff makes you feel welcome whatever time of the day you step through the door.

The servers look sharp wearing vibrant versions of chefs’ jackets. Our waitress was gracious and engaging throughout the night, even as she took on additional tables and became busier. We never felt forgotten.

I left that night wishing I had a Dandelion Bakery Bistro in my neighborhood. Enjoy this find, Howard County.

3800 Ten Oaks Road, Suite A, Glenelg

443-419-5188, dandelionbakerybistro.com

The vibe: The sunshine-yellow walls burst with cheerfulness, and the 1960s music will have you tapping your toes. We liked the tableau of doors on one wall that implied a hospitable invitation to enter.

You’ll fit in wearing: Casual attire

Don’t miss: The Angus burger with three toppings of your choosing

Best for kids: A section of the menu lists several dishes for children, including mac and cheese ($5.25), a quarter-pound burger ($5.50), a veggie plate ($5.50) and grilled cheese ($4.99).

Reservations: Accepted

Handicap Accessible: Yes

Price range: Appetizers, $8.49-$12.99; entrees, $12.50-$27.99.

lsuzanne@comcast.net

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