Fun takes on classic American food at E.W. Beck's

The dish wasn't perfect: In some spots, the pork was a touch overcooked and the rice was on the mushy side. But overall, it was an interesting twist on a pork chop dinner.

The accompanying dessert, though tiny, was a highlight. Blueberry crumb pie, served in a small square bowl, was warm and sweet.

Dessert Following the pie, we went for dessert round two. A favorite with the regulars, the chocolate "lovin' spoon" cake ($5.50) was a fudgy, rich chocolate cake layered with even richer chocolate frosting.

Weaving our way back toward the restaurant's front door, waitresses smiled and wished us a good night.

Those smiles felt genuine. In fact, everyone at E.W. Beck's — both patrons and staff — seemed truly happy. And why wouldn't they be?

Bottom line With good, interesting food and an easy, cheerful atmosphere, E.W. Beck's is the kind of place where happiness comes naturally.

E.W. Beck's

Back story: Brothers Scott and Brian Beck opened E.W. Beck's Pub on Main Street in Sykesville in 1992. Today, Scott owns the place in partnership with Chef Keith Watson. Together, they serve likable takes on classic American food in a lively, friendly atmosphere.

Parking: Street parking

Signature dish: Try the Washoku pork chops "TV dinner," a clever spin on the ubiquitous frozen dinners of years past. Soaked in a sweet-and-salty marinade then grilled, the chops are served with tart blueberry relish, rice and grilled asparagus. As with the original TV dinners, dessert comes with the meal: an excellent mini-blueberry crumb pie is tucked into the corner of the plate.

Where: 7565 Main Street, Sykesville

Contact: 410-795-1001;

Open: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday (Bar is open 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily)

Credit Cards: All major

Rating: 2.5 stars

Reservations: Not accepted

[Key: Superlative: five stars; Excellent: four stars; Very Good: three stars; Good: two stars; Promising: one star]