Hangover Helper: Sip & Bite tried to get a little fancy, and it's a disaster

Whether it brings to mind Guy Fieri or cocaine trafficking, most people have heard of the longstanding Sip & Bite (2200 Boston St., [410] 675-7077, sipandbite.com) in Canton. It admittedly has been quite a while since I dined here, so I was a little surprised by how much things have changed. I was expecting the kinda divey, cheap, basic-but-dependable Greek-American diner experience. Instead, I was met with an expanded menu featuring several more "fancy" offerings that seemed specifically aimed at out-of-town visitors who ventured over from the Inner Harbor to experience "the real Baltimore."

It was 10 a.m. on a Saturday, kind of early for brunch, but the place was already packed. My dining companion and I managed to score the last open booth. Our server came over relatively quickly and we ordered a few coffees. Then we waited. And waited. And waited. She eventually came back to ask if we minded Styrofoam cups, as they were out of clean mugs. By this point my dining companion was fading fast from lack of caffeine—we let her know that Styrofoam cups were fine and ordered our food, because we weren't sure when we'd see her again.

Then we waited some more. The coffeemaker was about 10 feet away from us. We stared longingly at it and the Styrofoam cups. We tried to make eye contact with our server. Nothing.

Seventeen minutes after we were seated, two mugs of coffee were placed on our table.

I get it. Rushes suck, and serving is a thankless job. But it's a diner. Getting a couple of coffees in front of customers should be a near-immediate priority.

Also, the coffee smelled burnt. And it tasted like it smelled.

Luckily, our food came out shortly thereafter. I had the eggs Athena ($7.95), one of the six different eggs Benedict variations on the menu. Plates of eggs Benedict were streaming out from behind the counter constantly. Going through that many poached eggs in a short-order diner environment seemed, shall I say, a bit ambitious.

When the eggs Athena came out, I actually felt optimistic. The healthy (read: unhealthy) serving of hollandaise looked thick and creamy, and the sprinkle of Old Bay on the top was a nice local touch. The appearance was unfortunately betrayed by the taste. The sauteed spinach and feta had very little in the way of feta—it was mostly just a bed of soggy, undersalted spinach. The hollandaise was nothing to write home about, but it did the job. The real disappointment was the "poached" eggs. One was just barely soft in the middle, letting a half-teaspoon or so of liquid yolk spill out when we split it. The other yolk was overcooked completely through, a crumbly pale yellow. Call me crazy, but I think that if you're going to have six different dishes that showcase poached eggs, you should be able to consistently poach eggs.

The Hercules omelette ($8.25) didn't fare much better. One of Sip & Bite's several Greek-style omelets that nods to the ancestry of the owner, it seemed like it could have been good—gyro meat, tomatoes, and feta. Maybe they were running low on the feta, because the omelet had a very skimpy portion, much like the eggs Athena. The cook may have tried to accommodate for the lack of feta, because unlike every other dish we tried, the omelette was actually oversalted.

The "famous homefries" served on the side were basically just begging to be vehicles for ketchup and/or hot sauce. They tasted like mealy, boiled potatoes that had been scraped over a grill for 10 seconds and plated without seasoning. If you just want to eat something that tastes like ketchup, they're probably great, because they tasted like nothing until we begrudgingly added ketchup.

Whatever Sip & Bite is trying to do with its menu, it ain't working. There are enough good greasy spoons in Baltimore that there's no reason to suffer through overcooked eggs and burnt coffee.

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