Are you in the mood for a nice restaurant that seems to appreciate your kids as much as you do? Head for Christopher's in Crofton.
In a shopping plaza off Route 3, Christopher's is rather charming inside. The dining area is designed to resemble a French country porch. A wall of windows with white cafe curtains separates the eating area from the bar. Parents will be pleased to know that highchairs and booster seats line one wall, ready for their kids. And for adults, fresh flowers and candles contribute to the warm and cheerful atmosphere.
Christopher's is owned by Ron Gardner, Mark Stevens and executive chef Christopher Bowers. Bowers wants people to come in on more than just special occasions--"on a regular basis," he says. And while some menu items are more expensive than those you would find at your average family restaurant, there are options for those looking for lower prices.
Most entrees are $15.95; they include seafood jambalaya, coconut shrimp tempura and a grilled New York Strip called the Cowboy Steak. A lighter menu of sandwiches is also available for those who are not hungry enough to pay for a dinner entree. These include red beans and rice with andouille sausage, turkey reuben and pulled pork barbecue sandwich, ranging in price from $5.95 to $8.95.
The dessert menu includes peach bread pudding with bourbon, key lime mousse Napoleon with mango pastry cream and assorted chocolate truffles, each for $4.95.
Service is attentive and friendly; several busboys monitored the tables to refill water glasses and bread baskets and to clear dirty dishes. Children were kept busy with baskets of crayons and paper menus to draw on while they waited for their food. Bread and drinks were brought immediately to the tables, which also helped to keep the hungry tykes happy.
Christopher's distinguishes itself with its presentations. The dishes were brimming with large portions and decorated with an array of colorful sauces and spices. One night, a delicious wild mushroom and rice soup was the soup du jour. Other appetizers include fried calamari, hummus and chicken quesadillas and cost between $5.95 and $6.95. That same night, the dinner special was chicken pasta with a spinach and black olive cream sauce, also very good.
The Creole-style jambalaya, while probably not spicy enough for diehard New Orleans food enthusiasts, was perfect for those who prefer to season their own food.
Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, Christopher's also has a jazz brunch buffet on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for $8.95. The buffet includes made-to-order omelets, spicy steamed shrimp and poached salmon.
Christopher's, 1286 Route 3 South, Crofton, Md. 21114. Call 410-451-1602. Open Sunday- Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
CAPTION: Chef Christopher Bowers, above with his red snapper, has helped create a warm and cheerful atmosphere.