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American food found at Gateway

Restaurant provides family-style atmosphere

Restaurant provides family-style atmosphere

December 23, 2007|By SAVORY SAM

Gateway Steak and Seafood Restaurant is a fine place to take the family for a nice weekday supper or for a Sunday dinner. Most dishes are decent. Service is friendly and personable. The décor is Americana with a bit of a bounce.

Prices, however, are pretty steep. Without even pushing the envelope, you could shell out $8 for an appetizer or salad, $20 for an entreé and $5 for a dessert. Add a beverage and tip, and you're looking at $40 per person.

That's OK if you're one of the best three or four restaurants in Washington County. But that's not the case with Gateway. It's an American-style, family-oriented restaurant that serves nicely prepared food in a nicely decorated dining room.

Nice, but not top of the line.

At least not the night we visited. The Sams visited Gateway on a Sunday evening, enticed by splash on the restaurant's Web page about a recent seafood extravaganza. Turns out the Web page is out of date ? the seafood special was in November 2006.

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But we stayed. We like seafood. We began our meal with two appetizers ? the cream of crab soup and the crab-stuffed mushrooms. The mushrooms were well-received ? the filling was creamy and had plenty of crab.

The soup was initially a letdown ? served lukewarm ? but was quickly reheated and, at a proper temperature, it was decent. Milky more than creamy, the flavor was good; though we could not detect the sherry said to be in the soup. Bits of shell in one diner's spoon was a turn-off, too.

A basket of bread and a Caesar salad came to the table. The bread was dull and needed the help of butter. But the salad was good, with ample, flavorful dressing, mostly fresh romaine lettuce and grated Parmesan cheese.

The pepper grinder ? as long as my arm ? added flavor where we wanted more. We used it several times during the meal. We like zesty food. Still, on the whole, the first course was OK.

Our place settings were eye-catching ? square ceramic plates, black or white, with heavy, oversize forks. The attention to design carried throughout the dining room, though not in an integrated way. Place settings were classy and upscale, but tables and chairs were strictly utilitarian ? metal-framed, vinyl-upholstered chairs in black and red. And the wall décor is unrelated to settings or furnishings ? muted gray walls with a brick fireplace and nice-quality, rusticated Americana.

Our entreés arrived, and we settled down to eat. The fish-eating vegetarians ordered primavera alfredo and crab-stuffed flounder. I tried a salad Nioise as a dinner entreé. The salmon fan in the party ordered the Atlantic salmon steak.

The salmon was a dud ? oily, flavorless and mushy, though one of us liked the crispy, fried edges.

Likewise, the salad Nioise was a letdown. My salad Nioise sat on a bed of wilted iceberg lettuce. The tuna, though tasty, was cooked all the way through and dry. Accompanying this were four grape tomatoes, carrot shreds and two white onion rings.

The stuffed flounder was better ? juicy and full of flavor. The accompanying mashed potatoes were a real disappointment; they were not fresh.

Side dishes in general seemed to be good. Green beans and roasted asparagus were exceptional, though oily. The baked macaroni and cheese was cheesy and soft inside. Scalloped potatoes were a disappointment ? not very cheesy.

The highlight of the entreé course was the alfredo-style pasta primavera. With a good variety of vegetables ? mushrooms, peppers, green beans ? and just enough creamy, tasty sauce, this primavera is the Tri-State area's best.

The kitchen was out of créme brûlee´, a favorite dessert of the Sams. But we tried the New York-style cheesecake with strawberry sauce and found it good, with a tasty graham-cracker crust and creamy, not-too-sweet texture. Alas, it was topped with whipped cream from a can. Our waitress said Gateway buys the cheesecake from a supplier.

Gateway offers decent American food ? some very good, some not so good ? in a pleasant setting. Just go in expecting to pay a pretty penny for your pleasure.

Savory Sam is a pseudonym for a Herald-Mail staff member who reviews restaurants anonymously to avoid special treatment.

Gateway Steak and Seafood Restaurant

(out of 5)

Food: 3 stars

Value: 2 stars

Service: 3 stars

Ambience: 4 stars

Address: 15124 National Pike, west of Hagerstown, about five miles west of Interstate 81

Hours: Gateway Steak and Seafood Restaurant is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday; from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday; and from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.

Phone: 301-582-1111

Web site: www.gatewayseafood.com

Style: American-style steak and seafood

Range: $6.95 to $9.95 for appetizers; $5.95 to $10.95 for salads; $15.95 to $24.95 for entrees; $6.95 to $9.95 for the "lite bites" menu; steamed seafood at market price; $3.95 to $6.95 for the children's menu; and $3.95 to $5.95 for dessert.

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