Cross Keys Deli/Timonium 2880 York Road, Timonium...


Cross Keys Deli/Timonium 2880 York Road, Timonium Crossing, Timonium. Hours: Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (410) 561-8896; fax: (410) 561-0850

Fried chicken from the Cross Keys Deli used to be a treat reserved for special trips to the Village of Cross Keys. Not anymore. Since the Timonium location opened last summer, folks north of the Beltway have been finger-licking their way through those famous drumsticks.

The new outpost is bright, white and modern, but lacks the cheerful bustle of the Falls Road store; it's about one-third the size and the shelves aren't jampacked the same way with gourmet goodies, yet the impressive range of quality deli food and baked goods more than makes up for the lack of ambience.

The chicken -- which Oprah Winfrey fancies when in town -- is available by the piece ($2.39 for a breast) or the bucket ($29.99), with many other options. There's a special right now -- $2.99 for the chicken leg platter, which comes with Western fries and coleslaw.

The salads are superb, ranging from $2.99 for the traditional green version, brightened with bits of broccoli and carrots, to a spicy shrimp salad. The shrimp salad was about $15 a pound the day I sampled it but well worth the money -- nippy enough for an adult palate, yet pleasing to the novice taste buds of my 9-year-old.

Seeking other sustenance? There are cold cut subs, Reuben sandwiches and other deli essentials.

The sweet-toothed will get their just desserts in the bakery, with its breads, cakes, tarts and oversized petit fours. While I found the apple-caramel cheesecake cloyingly sweet, for my son and 6-year-old daughter it was heaven. Next time, the kids have set their sights on the banana pie -- a shopper next to us raved about it.

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