Padonia Ale House morphed from Padonia Station maybe two to three years ago – I asked around as to when the change happened and why but didn’t get any good answers. Regardless Padonia Ale House (PAH) is a HUGE sports bar. There’s a one bar surrounded by dining rooms (and lots of flat screen TV’s) and another VAST room with multiple bars, lots more TV’s and a bunch of pool tables (there’s a very cool wall mural behind the pool tables of a cartoon Edgar Allen Poe chugalugging a big pint of beer! (Well, if Edgar Allen had been in Baltimore in 2014 and visited Padonia Ale House, he probably would have been taking advantage of their huge selection of draft, bottled and canned beers!)
The cool thing is when there isn’t a hot sports game on TV or there isn’t a live band playing in the bar (typically 10 pm or after) then the restaurant area is relatively calm and pleasant and you can carry on a conversation (which might not be so possible under other circumstances!)
The menu is simple and – guess what? – largely focused on pub grub. There are about 18 appetizers – most $6 – $10. Then there’s 10 “Burgers & Breasts” – that’s PAH-ese for you can get any of these 10 with a 1/2 lb burger OR a grilled or fried chicken breast; they run $8-$9 and they include French Fries. If you’re extra hungry, you can get an extra burger or breast added to your sandwich for $4 or Pork BBQ for $2 (and adding cheese/mushrooms/bacon will set you back $ .79 each). Then there’s 18 sandwiches to further complicate things (most $8-$9 and include fries too). Didn’t get your interest yet? How about Pizza? Plain margherita $10 or two alternatives – the SoBo Cheese Steak Pizza or the BeerBQ Pizza (both $12). Or how about some Wings? You get from 10 for $10 to 100 for a bargain $80 and get your choice of some not typical toppings (Sesame Ginger, Thai Jamican Jerk, Beer BQ). Or how about something lighter like Soup (most $5) or entree salads (most $9 – $11). And Geez – if all that didn’t catch your attention – there a half dozen different types of sliders (3 for $8, 6 for $15 or 9 for $20 and they come with fries) or – last but not least – 8 “favorites” ranging from the Meatloaf Platter ($10) to Linguini by the Bay ($14) to a MD Crab Cake ($16).
Needless to say trying to pick what to get was challenging – we did an end run around the big main course challenge by John ordering 1/2 lb of spiced shrimp ($10). We were hungry, the shrimp were big and tasty and well spiced and the reality is that we devoured them like a hurricane speeding through a hillside of styrofoam packing pellets! <Wink> But… Armed with new strength and determination, we made the big decisions! Marty decided on a plain pizza ($10), Paul boldly declared his life long interest in a South Philly Classic Cheese Steak ($9 and includes fries) while John’s determination and inner spunk became apparent with his choice of the Ale House Cobb Salad ($10).
Marty’s pizza, delivered on tall silver stand that seemed to take up a 1/3 of our table, was an eye-catcher! With literally OODLES of melted mozzarella on top of a tasty tomato sauce and a thick crust, Marty declared it a “Thumbs Up!” pizza if ever he had tasted one! (After some cajoling, John convinced him to remove the stand and put the pizza on the table so the other two of us would have room to see what we were eating! ) Beyond tasting good, it was also a darn good size pizza for $10 (Very different from some places – that will remain un-identified! – where you can get served a 6″ erstwhile pizza that cost $10 but looks like it was sourced from the bargain “no name” personal pizza section of the local super market) FYI – Marty could have – if he wanted to – added mushrooms or olives or whatever to his pizza for $ .99 per topping adding). As it was, the pizza was so thick and satisfying that he ended up taking half of it home with him.
Paul’s South Philly Cheese Steak proved to be another winner! The big sub roll was big and really stuffed with slice steak with a thick layer of melted cheese on top! (Clearly, PAH is not a place that asserts that one unwrapped american cheese slice constitutes cheese!) The fries were good (John kept stealing a taste when Paul wasn’t looking and get testify that they were hot and tasty!) The sandwich was daunting and Paul ended up taking half of his sandwich and fries home with him!
John’s Cobb Salad got another Thumbs Up! While it may be true that the amount of grilled chicken wasn’t particularly generous, the amount of bacon (REAL BACON!) and blue cheese (Mmmm! John really likes blue cheese!) and black olives and diced tomato (tomatoes that looked like they could have been in a garden earlier that week) were all way above normal serving levels. Below all the topping were some fresh dark greens and with the addition of the pretty darn good ranch dressing (Geez Louize – the waitress had not one – but TWO – cups of ranch dressing added “on the side” without being asked to do that!)
Speaking of our waitress, she was friendly and perky and kept John’s ice tea (as well as his buddy’s water glasses) filled up. A guy who we assume was the manager on duty check in on us and made us feel welcome and departed expressing his hopes we would be back. If all of this wasn’t enough, our waitress offered us – without us asking! – if we’d like one check or separate checks! If we had ordered dessert, that kind offer would have been the frosting on the cake! The Padonia Ale House is a joint – a huge joint, it’s nice (but not fancy) and I imagine its hard to hear yourself think when – later in the evening – the place is jumping but in early evening, it proved to be a nice place to grab something to eat and drink!
FACTS: Padonia Ale House – Cockeysville; 63 E. Padonia Road (at the far end of set of strip stores with a MARS supermarket at the other end near the corner of Padonia & York); http://www.padoniaalehouse.com/ ; 410-252-8181 ; Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner (open late most nights!); Full Bar; Limited Vegetarian options; adjacent free parking.