Pit Beef – The Canopy – Ellicotty City, MD

My morning started out successfully. My goal was to get a pit beef sandwich from The Canopy for lunch and get home in time to watch the game, which I was able to do.

The Canopy is a small restaurant right off of Route 40 in Ellicott City, MD. When I lived in Ellicott City, I would go there every month or so. Now that I’m a bit farther away, I don’t get there as often, so I was happy to plan my day to include this place. This place has been open since 1983, and it’s easy to see why it’s still around and still bringing in the customers.

One of the nice things about the Pit Beef restaurants that I’ve visited is the meat is right behind the counter. You order your meat and your desired doneness (if beef), and they take it off the pit and start slicing right there. The meat is fresh. The sandwich is made right there while you’re saying what you want on it.

When it was my turn to order, I opted for a pit beef sandwich with the meat cooked rare. I then asked for tiger sauce and BBQ sauce. And requested potato salad on the side. Their version of tiger sauce is mayonnaise and horseradish. A perfect blend that goes well with beef. The barbecue sauce gives it that extra little touch. The potato salad uses red skin potatoes and onions. There was a nice proportion of mayonnaise on this, and the onions added a nice little crunch. The Canopy has Birch Beer as a fountain drink, so that also puts me in a happy place.

The sandwich itself is fantastic. The meat was cooked to perfection. I like it very rare, so it was good to have those bites that had the perfect flavor of the extra rare meat. Since the meat is thin-sliced, you can have some variety in terms of texture. This sandwich takes some work to bite through, but not too much. The meat had a tender bite through, which made it easier to eat. The kaiser roll held up well. Not soggy, not falling apart. The tiger sauce had a nice kick to it. It wasn’t overbearing, it was just enough to let you know it was there without making your sinuses go crazy.

When I first started ordering, I was thinking about getting Cole slaw as a side dish. But, I tend to think of Cole slaw as accompanying pork, so I decided against it. Potatoes seem to pair well with beef, which is why I went for the potato salad. I don’t remember having ordered the potato salad before, but I’m glad that I did. It was nicely seasoned and had really good flavor. The coolness of the potato salad worked well with the sandwich. And having Birch Beer on tap made it even more special. You can usually find Root Beer, but Birch Beer is tougher to find. So having a good meal at a familiar place helps make for a better day, and makes it easy to stay positive.

Caffe Bene – Ellicott City

Today is going to be a hot one (mid 90s), so I wanted to get out early and run some errands before the heat came. I went to Caffe Bene and had a Mocha Frappe. They use espresso shots, so this had a nice, bold flavor to it. This is a thick drink, but it’s not too icy. Since they also have boba drinks, this came with a thick straw, which works well with the thicker blend. I usually go here 3 or 4 times per year, so it was a nice little treat and good to have the thicker drink on a day with hot weather. I was able to run a couple of errands afterwards. I did some shopping at H Mart and some shopping at Sprouts, and the drink was still nice and thick, which was a plus.

Caffe Bene has a signature drink, Misugaru, which is a multi-grain drink. I did not get it this morning, but I’ve had it in the past in frappe form. It has an earthy, malt-type flavor which is good. Not something my tastebuds would normally enjoy, but good nonetheless.

When Caffe Bene opened up in Ellicott City, I was a happy camper. It reminded me of my time in California. When my sister and I first started going on our walks/runs, one of the routes we would take would have us going to Seattle’s Best Coffee on the final leg of our run. The store had really good coffee and good seasonal options. Their sweets were great, especially their pumpkin loaf (with icing) and chocolate peppermint loaf bread with peppermint icing. When I really wanted to indulge, I would get their espresso shake. Fresh brewed espresso mixed with ice cream into a thick, creamy milkshake. Not something I could have all the time, but definitely worth it when I ordered it. The staff that worked there was fantastic. I still remember Molly, Lola, Alice, Liz, and Valerie, to name a few. They made the experience even better with our conversations. We were regulars there and they all made us feel welcome, even if we had just finished up a 6 or 7 mile run in hot weather. Watching Alice make coffee drinks was magical for me. She was very systematic and methodical, which I really appreciate. Everyone there had a fun time and enjoyed what they were doing.

When Seattle’s Best stores closed, I was sad (they also had locations inside Border’s Books, which went out of business a number of years ago). At the particular location where my sister and I used to go after our runs, the location switched over to a Caffe Bene. I was hesitant at first, since I had a loyalty to Seattle’s Best and the people who worked at that location. But it wasn’t the fault of Caffe Bene that it shut down, so we gave it a try. We were able to go there a few times before I moved away, so being able to go to Caffe Bene here in Maryland makes me feel a connection to the times we had in California. It brings back happy thoughts and positive memories, which helps me have a good start to the day.