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Grille Twelve24 has tasty Peruvian food

In recent years, Peruvian restaurants have popped up throughout the city and suburbs — think Pisco in Elkridge and the much-loved Puerto 511 near the downtown library. Grille Twelve24, which opened in Mid-Town Belvedere last fall, is one of the area's newer Peruvian spots.

With a menu that also includes Mediterranean classics and sandwiches — and a friendly staff — the neighborhood's new addition is off to a good start.

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Scene & Decor Grille Twelve24 is inviting, with one exposed brick wall and big, comfortable booths. That it's a casual restaurant is obvious right away: The counter, where orders are placed, and an open prep area occupy a big chunk of the space.

On a recent Thursday evening, the restaurant was steadily busy between 7 and 8 o'clock, with diners both eating in and carrying out.

Appetizers We started out with a Greek salad ($7.99). It was standard, featuring the usual lettuce-cucumber-olive combination and a few-less-than-exciting out-of-season tomatoes. But we appreciated the addition of a tangy stuffed grape leaf and the serious acidity of Grille Twelve24's feta-heavy Greek dressing.

Our only real complaint was that the dressing had been prepped beforehand and refrigerated, so when we tried to put it on our salad, it was nearly solid. The refrigeration is likely a necessary evil, and it didn't ruin the flavor, but it wasn't ideal.

Entrees A spinach pie ($5.99) cemented Grille Twelve24's Greek chops. Large and rectangular, the pie was crispy on the outside and well-seasoned and warm inside. Like the salad, it was a straightforward take on a Greek classic — and a good one.

The Greek fare worked but the Peruvian chicken and BBQ ribs platter ($10.99) was the highlight of the meal. The ribs, slathered in a slightly sweet, noticeably herbaceous sauce, were tender and juicy. But the chicken was better. Next time, we might skip the ribs and double up on the bird.

A drumstick and thigh, coated in spices and roasted, smelled great and tasted even better. The meat was impressively juicy — we used many napkins — and the restaurant's spice blend was savory and appealing. Served with two sauces (one spicy, one creamy) the chicken was completely satisfying.

A side of fries was likable, if not terribly exciting. A scoop of rice mixed with peas and carrots was better — tender, flavorful and a good match for the chicken.

Drinks With dinner, we cooled off with a Stella Artois ($4.99) and a miniature bottle of Liberty Creek chardonnay ($5.99). That Grille Twelve24 has a license to sell beer and wine is a nice plus and something that might give it an edge over other local fast-casual restaurants. But both the beer and wine selections were fairly uninspired, though a couple local beers were available.

We would have enjoyed seeing a little more variety on the drinks menu — maybe a Peruvian beer or a Greek wine.

Dessert Dessert at Grille Twelve24 is limited to a handful of grab-and-go options, like cookies and baklava. We opted for a large chocolate chip cookie ($2.49), baked in-house, which proved to be a sweet and chewy way to end the meal.

Service Grille Twelve24's service is understandably casual. Most of our interaction with the staff happened when we were ordering our meal at the counter. Everyone we spoke with was friendly, though, and we appreciated that the manager stopped by our table (and others) to check on everyone's meals.

By the time he stopped at our table, we were winding down on our entrees — and happy to report that, yes, we had everything we needed. And we enjoyed it all.

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