CAVEAT DINER! “Country Pride” is located in the middle of a large truck stop at Jessup, Maryland near the intersection of Rte 175 and Rte 1 and adjacent to a “Knights Inn” frequented by truckers. Country Pride runs a large chain of restaurants located at truck stops through out the country; they have another restaurant at the truck stop center in Elkton, MD. A majority of patrons are bona fide truckers (more often than not, men) and you’ll find virtually no children or crying babies disturbing your meal. It’s probably not the place for you if you’re looking for the kind of restaurant that a “foodie” and/or “gourmand” would gush over the “cuisine” and/or you’re the kind of person who makes a point of avoiding eating at diners or restaurants like “Old Country Buffet”, Hibachi Buffet, Appleby’s, etc.
With that “Caveat Diner” out of the way, “Country Pride” restaurant is a nice place that you can go to for tasty, “American” style meal. It’s very clean, thoughtfully decorated, with pleasant, efficient waitresses, and good trucker-friendly food (and with “all you can eat” options at “prime time” breakfast, lunch and dinner hours). Like some diners in the Baltimore area, it is open “24/7”. The food can be quite good – minimally the equal of what you’d find at local diners, “all you can eat” places like the “Old Country Buffet” and even chains like Appleby’s .
The menu is a big, diner-sizer 6 page long listing of breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. (Breakfast items are available any time of day) Most sandwiches are under $10 and most entrees are under $15. The menu has some special aspects like the 6th page which lists a very special collection of “Crave All You Can Eat” Options listing special breakfast or lunch/dinner options.
The menu also features some snippets of home spun wisdom (We found more of these quotes and bits of wisdom posted as privacy separators between some of the booths; there’s also some intriguing large black and white old time photos that are Maryland related.)
I was surprised to find a darn good salad and soup bar (comparable to what I’ve enjoyed at Ruby Tuesday’s “Garden Bar”) which also includes “made here” soups (typically chicken noodle and vegetable)
I splurged on the Friday night $10.99 “all you can eat” special with Cajun grilled fish (southern style breaded fish is an alternative option) which included choice of one side vegetable dish as well as the soup and salad bar. The fish was among the best Cajun style fish that I’ve had in a long time. It came with a big piece of garlic bread, a big baked potato (with lots of butter and sour cream) as my “side” vegetable. (FYI – other standard sides include hash-brown, mashed or french fried potatoes, cinnamon apples, rice pilaf, slice tomatoes or broccoli)
My friend Paul opted for the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich on a special pretzel roll included a side of mashed potatoes with brown gravy ($9). Paul thought it was darn good and finished off everything on his plate (If he had wanted, he could have added the “Soup & Salad” bar for an extra $2.99).
My buddy Tom decided to go with Cajun Beef tips (with diced tomato, mushrooms , peppers and onions) plus thick slice of garlic bread. He chose a baked potato as his side but splurged for the “super stuffed” version with bacon and lots of melted cheese. He thought that his beef was overcooked and far too bland for something labeled “Cajun” ( He would have like it better if it had been as spicy as the sample of my Cajun fish that he tasted)
There are a number of “made here” desserts available but the three of us were pretty full by the time that we finished our meal and decided to pass on dessert.
My visit to “Country Pride” left me with a very different impression compared to the trepidation that I felt walking into the restaurant for the first time. The atmosphere, food and service proved much better than I expected. Even at prime 7 pm dinner time on a Friday night, there was none of the lines and waits for a table that are endemic to most nearby Columbia restaurants a little more than a mile away on the other side of Rte 95. Being bold enough to try “Country Pride” has proven to have its payoffs! <Wink>
FACTS: Country Pride – Jessup, MD, 7401 Assateague Dr., (410) 799-3835; Open 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week; Breakfast served at any time; no alcohol; menu
SUGGESTION: The trucker’s convenience store on the other side of the lobby has one of the biggest collections of cooking and coffee makers that can be plugged into a cigarette lighter that I’ve ever come across (plus there was an “interesting” collection of leather jackets and vests among other things that I’ve never seen either in any 7/11)