It’s easy to drive past GL Shacks Grill in Catonsville’s “downtown” on Frederick Road without realizing it’s there. Tucked away on lowest level of an old 4 story building (where the upper floors are all professional offices and next to adjacent big and somewhat flashy MacDonalds and across the street from a Dunkin Donuts, it doesn’t exactly catch your eye. At the front near the street is a popular sports bar.
Between GL Shack and MacDonald’s, there’s a driveway that goes up an incline and leads to a surprisingly big parking lot. You’ll find an awning with their GL Shacks name emblazoned on it that leads down a flight of stairs into the dining room back behind the bar.
Inside, the dining room looks deceptively big – or at least before you realize that the back wall is mirrored and, as a result, gives an initial impression of a much larger room. There’s about 18 tables and four flat screen TV’s scattered across the space with a faux fireplace in one corner and artwork of local scenes on the walls. The menu offers some typical pub grub: Soups include Maryland Crab and a “made here” chili ($5/cup, $6/bowl), Fifteen appetizers ($7-$12), Four “flat breads” ($8-$12), Maryland style steamed stuff (1 lb mussels/$11, 1/2 lb shrimp/$12, and a steamed pot with 1 lb of mussels, shrimp & corn ($14), a half dozen entree salads ($10-$15), eighteen sandwiches/burgers/paninis ($7-$12; most include choice of fries, pasta salad or coleslaw) plus a half dozen “entrees” ($12-$20 – We’ve been impressed in the past with the meatloaf platter/$13).
After thinking it through, the three of us decided to share an order of Pulled Pork Nachos ($10); this turned out to be a VERY good decision! The generous serving of multi-colored nachos was interlaced with lots of melted cheese, pulled pork, diced tomato, pepper and onions and proved to be a “Thumbs Up!” winner (We quickly concluded that this could make one heck of a satisfying meal for one person!
For our main course, John decided to go with the Brazilian Beef Salad ($12.50), Tom opted for the Veggie Powerhouse Panini with coleslaw ($8) and Paul ordered a Ruben Sandwich with pasta salad ($9).
John was disappointed with his salad which he felt was less than generous for the price. The actual salad – while fresh and with garden ripe tomato – was smaller than many a side salad he’s had at 1/3 of the price. The three pieces of beef were well done (which would not have been his choice at all) and the decent blue cheese dressing served well to moisten the dry meat. John wouldn’t order this salad again (in the past, he’s ordered and enjoyed the Buffalo Chicken Salad/$10 which has been consistently good and typically is half again bigger than the Shack’s steak salad.
By contrast, Tom was really pleased with his “Powerhouse” veggie panini; It was stuffed with fresh veggies, melted brie cheese and a pepper tapenade on rosemary focaccia bread.
Paul’s Ruben proved to be a Thumbs-Up choice for him; he was stuffed with lots of corn beef topped with sauerkraut and melted cheese. He liked the pasta salad (which made for a nice change of pace from the more typical chips of fries.
Service from our young waitress was friendly and attentive and added to our overall enjoyment of the meal.
GL Shacks Grill is a nice option for reasonably priced, casual dining in Catonsville that can get frequently overlooked but is worth discovering.
FACTS: GL Shacks Grill – Catonsville; 583 Frederick Road; 410.788.0879; http://www.glshacksgrill.com ; Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner; Full Bar; Vegetarian Options; Free Parking in back in addition to limited on-street parking in front.