The Plum is a cherry of a place

July 01, 2011

By Anne Chovey

Special to The Herald-Mail

What makes a sandwich shop stand out from the ordinary or average place? Well, the food has got to be a bit more adventurous, the location should be convenient, and the service swift and pleasant.

The Plum located on Rochester Place in downtown Hagerstown, fills the bill on all accounts.

My dining companion, Pap Ricka and I decided to go to the Plum for lunch one day recently. The building, which houses the restaurant, is tucked away off the alley behind the Barbara Ingram School and The Maryland Theatre.

But Hagerstonians have known about the Plum for many years. Known as Ann's Plum in an earlier life, the restaurant has chosen its niche as a breakfast and lunch place and does it very well.


You enter the Plum off the alley and into an old room with wooden floors. Stenciled plums and greenery are painted on the walls.

Pictures of all things plum are hung about along with beautiful, full-sized quilts. Specials are written on a chalkboard near a chest-high counter where orders are placed.

The Plum figured out a long time ago how to efficiently deliver a great lunch to people who are on a break from work.

The order is placed at the counter, then you can be seated. You take your order with you to your seat and your waitress comes by and gets it. In that way, the kitchen has started on your order and your waitress knows which order is yours. I think it is one of the more clever ways to provide good service.

Pap and I checked out the extensive menu. The Plum offers both hot and cold sandwiches and the prices are all between $6 to $6.50.

Some of the more interesting combinations were the The Woodley: roast beef, portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, provolone, horseradish, lettuce and tomato on a club roll. Or the Porker: turkey, ham, red onion, slaw, cream cheese and mayo on rye.

There were a number of vegetarian options like Jen's Veggie Pita, which combined cucumber, red onion, tomato, avocado, sprouts, peppers and cheddar in a pita with buttermilk dressing.

But the meatlover was not ignored: Ted's Favorite is a double-decker with turkey, ham, Swiss cheese, green pepper, bacon and Thousand Island dressing on rye.

As I have mentioned before, Pap is a turkey lover.  (I sometimes get the feeling he is eating every turkey sandwich in the tri-state area.) He chose Kate's Smoked Turkey Bagel. I wanted a hot sandwich so picked "The Downtowner:" sautéed vegetables with provolone.

After we placed our order, we chose our seats. In addition to the front room where orders are placed, there is a second large room with a counter where you pay the check. There is also a stair case that goes up to a loft area with more seating. The wall of the other room is exposed brick and the floors are also wood for a cool rustic feel.

Our orders arrived quickly. Pap's turkey bagel had smoked turkey on it with cucumber, tomato and lettuce. It was topped off by a dill cream cheese spread. The day we went to The Plum, it was very hot and this turkey sandwich was just the thing. The dill cream cheese elevated the other ingredients to special and was the perfect complement. The bagel had no hole, which made keeping the filling together much easier, and it was nicely chewy, without being tough.

My sandwich was full of sautéed zucchini, red onions, tomato, peppers and mushrooms with garlic and basil. The provolone was melted over it all. My mouth was so happy. I love the sweetness of vegetables that have been sautéed. Rather than piling on a bunch of potato chips, Pap and I were pleasantly surprised to find our sandwiches accompanied by carrot and celery sticks. It was a colorful and healthful choice.

Our waitress was attentive and filled our drinks several times.  Then she asked if we wanted dessert. Now we don't generally get dessert, especially at lunch on a weekday, but Pap said, "Why not?"

We ordered the Italian Cream cake. Holy cow! It was sublime. The cake itself was a spice cake and it was frosted with cream cheese icing and topped with coconut and pecans.  Fortunately, Pap tends to like the cake part and I like the icing part so we very happily divided one piece. A fantastic finish.

The Plum is a hidden gem of downtown Hagerstown. I encourage you to search it out and be sure to save room for dessert.

Anne Chovey is a pseudonym for a Herald-Mail freelance writer who reviews restaurants anonymously to avoid special treatment.

The Plum

Overall: 4 (out of 5 stars)

Food: 4

Service: 4  1/2

Ambiance: 4

Value: 3 1/2

Address: 6 Rochester Place, downtown Hagerstown

Phone: 301-791-1717

Hours: 7 to 2:30 Monday through Friday

Food: Hot and cold sandwiches, salads, breakfast.  Many vegetarian options.

Bathrooms: Bathroom was clean, but was down a narrow hallway with corners. Would be difficult to navigate in a wheelchair.

Parking and handicapped accessibility: There is no real parking for The Plum other than street parking at the end of the alley and some metering parking at the other end of the alley.  Public parking decks and lots are several blocks away. The Plum is located in an old building with steps which would be difficult for the mobility impaired.

No reservations are required.

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