We have a feeling this restaurant will always be called Sanders’ Corner. There’s so much nostalgia attached to the landmark building that overlooks the Loch Raven woodshed, where generations cooled off with ice-cream cones and nibbled on old-fashioned meals, especially breakfast, in the past. But the old moniker could stick, too, because the recent name, McFaul’s IronHorse Tavern at Sanders’ Corner, doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Not that it matters. What’s important is that the new owners took the property and refurbished it, while still keeping old-time mementoes, like the photos of the Ma and Pa Railroad trains that used to chug across the street. The spruced-up knotty-pine dining room with the A-frame ceiling and fireplace is still reminiscent of the days when the Sanders family owned the place for more than 50 years. The restaurant changed hands in 2008. But it was shuttered in early 2011, leaving its fate in question.
The new management team—W. Glen McFaul III, his wife Kristin, father-in-law Walt Lashno, and Matt Remsnyder, a co-manager at Sean Bolan’s pub in Bel Air—reopened the restaurant this summer. They not only gave the place a facelift, but they also brought in a chef who’s quite capable in the kitchen.
Evan Orser, who previously worked at Looney’s Pub in Bel Air and The Harp in Perry Hall, has devised an American menu that appeals to the geriatric crowd that visits during the day and the younger suburbanites, who come later for dinner, the bar scene, and music on the porch. The porch is legend. Known for its bucolic view, it has been a mainstay at the restaurant for years. In addition to its 72 dining seats, there is now an outdoor bar to cater to the crowd. The indoor bar, featuring many local beers on tap, has been relocated to the back of the restaurant.
The chef, like many of his brethren in town, capitalizes on using local, fresh products and seafood in his preparations. The fried-green-tomatoes appetizer with local Cherry Glen goat cheese, a mound of Tilghman Island lump crab meat, and lemon-butter sauce was a fine introduction to his skills.
We also enjoyed a half-pound of steamed shrimp to start. The Old-Bay-enhanced shrimp were giant and nestled with sliced sweet potatoes (a nice touch) and onions.
The portions are huge, no matter what course you’re being served. The Albright Farms half-chicken—a plump bird—crackles with skin crisped with a mango-lime glaze. We got to pick our side dishes and were pleased with the whipped Yukon Gold mashed potatoes and an entree salad.
Rockfish was the featured fish of the day and was grilled perfectly, producing a moist, flaky fillet. (The fish can also be blackened.) It’s paired with a fresh-fruit salsa that adds a touch of sweetness and is served with wild-grain rice and asparagus.
McFaul’s is also a fine place to settle in with raw-bar choices like oysters, clams, and mussels, and appetizers like Pound O’ Wings, crab dip, and the chef’s house-smoked fish pâté instead of succumbing to a big dinner.
Lunchtime draws diners with an array of sandwiches, pizza, soups, and salads (all offered at dinner, too). The salmon BLT was piled high with a six-ounce fillet, applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, and tomato on a ciabatta roll. The Iron “Power” House was a great version of the veggie favorite with lettuce, tomato, sprouts, cucumbers, carrots, avocado, cheese, and hummus on multi-grain bread.
Desserts are really good here, too. Besides local Prigel ice cream, Sanders’ Corner—oops, McFaul’s—offers selections made by Baltimore bakery Sasscer’s Cheesecake. We had a slice of the three-layer carrot cake with just the right amount of cream-cheese icing and a cheesecake blanketed with a berry compote.
We would have been happy just to sit on the porch and gaze at the treetops when we heard the restaurant had reopened. And we’ll do that. But we’re also looking forward to returning and enjoying the bounty from the kitchen as well.
McFaul's Ironhorse Tavern At Sanders Corner: 2260 Cromwell Bridge Rd., 410-828-1625 HOURS 11 a.m.-12 a.m. Sun.-Wed., 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Thurs.-Sat.; brunch, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.-Sun. CUISINE American PRICE Appetizers: $6-14; entrees: $12-33; sandwiches: $5-14; desserts: $5-7. ATMOSPHERE: Casual with nostalgic dining rooms, a lively bar area, and a great porch overlooking Loch Raven watershed.