The Trolley Stop restaurant, on the edge of historic Ellicott City and just off of Frederick Road, is aptly named. The building dates from 1833 and was a stop for the #9 Trolley line that ran from the end of Edmondson Ave in Catonsville to Ellicott City and continued in active service until June 18th, 1955. (FYI – From the starting point of the #9 Trolley Line, the #14 Trolley Line would have taken you into downtown Baltimore!) The actual Trolley Stop was by the 2nd floor (on the left of the photo below) and the stone pillars supporting the tracks over the river into Ellicott City still remain near by.
The location adjacent to the Patapsco River is as picturesque as can be but the Patapsco River – which powered the mills which created wealth for Ellicott City residents – could also be a two edge sword. During Hurricane Agnes in 1972, the Patapsco wildly overflowed its bank and immersed the entire first floor of the Trolley Stop building (as well as the flour mills across Frederick Road and inundating a good part of the lower Ellicott City where the high water marks can be found on the railroad bridges. After a great deal of effort to clean things up, the restaurant that we now know as “The Trolley Stop” came into being initially serving just sandwiches and “home made” chili. It went through a rough time though between then and the late 1980’s when it was a big biker hangout and the smoke got mighty thick around the bar and bar room brawls were so frequent that locals referred to it as the “Bloody Bucket”. Fortunately the Fields family who bought it around 1988 made a point of changing things around, re-christened it as “The Trolley Stop” and succeeded into turning it into the friendly, reasonably priced restaurant that we know it as in 2014.
The main first floor restaurant is rustic and casual with a bar (popular with the locals!) and about 18 small tables packed into the space. (The impact of Hurricane Agnes is still evident in the bare rafter ceiling and bare stone and brick walls of the main restaurant on the first floor which was so badly flooded). The second floor of the building has been more recently restored into an additional dining room (which is only available on weekends or for special private events).
The Trolley Stop’s menu (Same for lunch and dinner!) includes ten starters/appetizers ($6-$10), Soups (French Onion/$7; Seafood soup – $5/cup, $6/bowl), several large salads ($8-$10; add grilled chicken for $4), five wraps (Most $10), Two dozen sandwiches and burgers (most around $10 and include choice of fries, cole slaw, potato salad, cucumber salad, apple sauce or chips). For dinner time only (after 4 pm!), there are 6 pasta dishes ($15-$20 and include a side salad) and a dozen entrees (From $17 Chicken Marsala to $22 crab cake with steak and include a side salad plus choice of any one side dish)
We quickly zoomed in on the 1/2 lb of steamed spiced shrimp special for $7.50 and the two of us ordered it right away as a starter! (Boy oh boy, that was a good decision!) The shrimp arrived at the table steaming hot and proved to be good sized shrimp and particularly spicy and good! Definite “Thumbs Up!” from both of us! For our main course, we both ordered sandwiches – John went for the 1/2 lb “Black & Bleu” burger ($9.95) and Tom ordered the Cajun Chicken Cheddar & Bacon ($9.50).
John’s burger was mighty big and topped with a generous layer of melted blue cheese (the lettuce and tomato that came with the burger would have qualified as a side salad at some other restaurants! <Wink>) John’s potato salad had an old fashioned, home-made feel to it which he enjoyed. This burger got John’s “Thumbs Up!” and is definitely recommended!
Tom’s Cajun Chicken sandwich arrived overflowing from a big hunk of a baguette with his side of cucumber salad. We both stared in amazement at his sandwich which had a half dozen big pieces of bacon on top nestled on a layer of melted cheddar! Wow, what a sandwich! (Tom generously shared a slice or two of Bacon with John and his Cajun Chicken still looked smothered in strips of bacon that were left! Tom found the cucumber salad to be a bit too vinegary/acidic for his taste (but his sandwich was so big, he didn’t appear to be upset about that!
The staff at the Trolley Stop was friendly and attentive; John’s water glass was refilled without it ever staying empty for long and the staff kept an eye open if we needed anything!
The Trolley Stop may be casual and its ceiling may never have been plastered after flood it suffered through back in ’72 but the food we tried was real good and the friendly staff had us feeling like regulars and the experience left us really happy about having decided to eat there! With all of historic Ellicott City just on the other side of the railroad bridge over Frederick Road, we’ll be like to coming back here!
FACTS: The Trolley Stop – Ellicott City; 6 Oella Avenue (at corner of the intersection with Frederick Road); 410-465-8546 ; http://www.newtrolleystop.com ; Open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner; Full Bar; Vegetarian Options; parking for about 10 cars in front of the restaurant; if that’s full, if you continue just past the old Trolley stone piers on Oella, you’ll find another public lot with more parking.