Date Nights…Western Howard County

Date Nights? Do you remember them? I have vague memories of when going on date nights was very easy. Lately with kids in a multitude of activities and general family exhaustion from our hectic schedule, date nights are few and far between.

In recent months we have explored the following local restaurants. Some of these would be good for the entire family, too. Bear in mind that I live in the western end of Howard County (MD). We’re talking rural. Down homey. Not a gourmet dining spot in sight.

On our last date night my husband and I did a progressive dinner of sorts. We left the house armed with gift cards and a couple of hours to spare. Our goal to try a couple of local restaurants. My sub goal was to use up all of the gift cards that my husband happily receives and then promptly forgets to use. Unlike me, he does not carry the gift cards everywhere he goes.

We started with appetizers at the Ten Oaks Tavern in Glenelg — thanks to a gift card from our son’s soccer team, my husband was the coach. My husband loves coaching the kids — he gladly does it for free. The parents were very sweet to give him a gift card from the team. The Ten Oaks Tavern, located in a small shopping area on Ten Oaks Road, is compact. The dark-wood bar area is separated from the seating area by a wall, which makes dining with a family an option. I don’t like eating at restaurants where the bar area is located in the eating area.

We decided to try an appetizer or two. Each of us had a drink — Diet Pepsi — as neither of us are big drinkers. We absolutely had to try Spudmania — no choice whatsoever. Our Irish ancestors would never forgive us! It was a delicious heaping portion of baked potato chunks topped with bacon and sour cream. Yum! If memory serves we ordered the hamburger sliders as well. The jalapeno poppers also looked good. Maybe next time… We split both appetizers.

Much as I would have enjoyed staying at the Ten Oaks Tavern, we pressed on with the progressive dinner. Next stop… Dinner at the Smokin’ Hot Bar & Grille in Glenwood — thanks to a gift card from the swim team for my work on the pool blog. Truthfully I’d had the gift card since the summer before…burning a hole in my pocket.

Smokin’ Hot Bar & Grille is another restaurant located in a strip mall. Don’t let the location fool you. While the interior may look spartan, the food more than makes up for it. The reviews on Urban Spoon show how well loved this restaurant is.

I was anxious to try the BBQ. I’ve tried BBQ at Red Hot & Blue and the now defunct O’Brien’s Pit BBQ in Rockville.  I honestly can’t tell the difference between the different varieties. The Smokin’ Hot Bar & Grille menu answered some of my questions. I ordered a beef BBQ sandwich while my husband ordered pork BBQ. The portions were generous. As an added touch we had two beer carriers stocked with bottles of seasonings, BBQ sauce, and all delicious. I tried the hot sauce of course…not sure what the flavor was, but it was gooooood.

Oh and Smokin’ Hot bar & Grille “know” social media. I found a Facebook page even though I couldn’t find a website. They use the Facebook page to promote new menu items, event nights, and more. Good use of social media!

We considered dessert at the Woodbine Inn — courtesy of another soccer team, but thought better of it and headed home. I am looking forward to trying the Woodbine Inn one of these days … or should I say date nights!

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