There's a place on Padonia Road that serves really great steaks, and this time, we don't mean Christopher Daniel. We're talking about Rib 'N Reef (22 W. Padonia Road, Timonium, 410-560-0906), which occupies the same space as the now-defunct Gibby's Seafood restaurant. That place was beloved by its regulars, and from what we see and hear, Rib 'N Reef is, gradually, earning its own legion of fans. It's easy to see (and taste) why—the menu takes good old American favorites and makes a few interesting adjustments. The wine list is perfectly adequate, and drinks are surprisingly cheap (which is good, because the top-flight steaks are pushing $40; add a lobster tail to your New York Strip, and you're at $55). Appetizers are very ocean-oriented, and that's fine by us: all the better to leave room for one of the massive cuts of either beef or fish that wait on the entrée listings. Our steak au poivre was a fine cut of beef, and it was cooked and peppered perfectly. The attending garlic mashed potatoes were perfect for a chilly night, and though the sautéed squash side was good, it tasted a bit long in the tooth. The sea bass Beijing was a marvelous piece of fish seared just right and topped with a miso glaze; again, sides let us down a bit, as the vermicelli was too salty. Service varies from somewhat somnambulant to incredibly (even overly?) attentive and precise, but nothing worth griping about. Grab a table in the modern, multi-tiered "terrarium" at the front of the building, and it's almost easy to forget that it's Padonia Road—and not Charles Street—that's just outside.
Rib 'N Reef is a cut above.
Issue date: December, 2007