Did you hear about the hurricane that hit New Jersey? It caused $100 million in improvements. Just kidding. I'm actually a Jersey fan and I drive up there frequently to see relatives.
One thing I know about the drive is that there are few decent and convenient eating options between here and there - the usual fast-food junk. However, I recently discovered one alternative just a short jump off Interstate 95.
Chesapeake Food Works in Perryville is a perfectly acceptable deli selling an assortment of sandwiches, soups and salads. It sits at one end of the Prime Outlets Shopping Cen- ter, a collection of outlet stores - Geoffrey Beene, L.L. Bean, etc.
Service was efficient and friendly, and our large order was ready in no time.
Things started off well with a chicken-and-vegetable soup ($2.95 for a cup), which was hearty and thick with vegetables and nice-sized chunks of meat. But the potato knish ($2.95) was doughy on the outside and doughy on the inside.
The menu features a couple dozen sandwiches, and we tried four. The shrimp salad ($7.95) was particularly good, featuring piquant, small shrimps. A roast-beef sandwich ($6.50) had a nice pile of thinly sliced meat, but could have used more horseradish. A smoked-turkey sandwich ($5.50) also had a notable pile of shaved meat and came on tasty multigrain bread. Finally, the "Uncle Herman" ($6.95) brought together a grilled chicken breast, bacon slices and cheese on a thick roll, but was altogether too thick and dry.
A fine Greek salad included pitted olives - a nice touch - and a good vinaigrette dressing. For dessert, Chesapeake Food Works sells some impressive-looking chocolates, which are made elsewhere. We opted for homemade cookies at a dollar apiece.
The official cookie-tasting party was sharply divided in its assessments, but the winner in a squeaker was the peanut butter - crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle.
Chesapeake Food Works
Waiting area: ***
Where: 68 Heather Lane, Prime Outlets Shopping Center, Perryville
Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
Prices: Salads, soups, sandwiches and a few hot dishes, from $2.95 to $10.95; credit cards accepted
Outstanding: ****; Good: ***; Fair or uneven: **; Poor: *