Howard Magazine - Page 17 - All about ambience (2)

Howard Magazine
- Page 17
All about ambience (2)
And the bowl arrived several degrees below a properly hot temperature.

An appetizer of marinated seafood included tiny pieces of crab, along with samples of mahi mahi and shrimp, all delectably resonant of key lime. But the plate, which also contained a few slivers of avocado and mango, seemed to take the minimalist concept a step too far.

Tomatoes gathered from the inn’s extensive garden just before the rain fell that day provided an extra-fresh lift to a caprese inspired appetizer with fine mozzarella.

There was a fresh taste, too, in the bibb lettuce that provided a foundation for the Polynesian salad. And there was a pleasant tang from the grilled pineapple, hearts of palm, passion fruit vinaigrette, and cashew butter wontons.

Still, those various elements didn’t come together in a bold, distinctive way.

To turn that salad into an entree, we ordered some jumbo shrimp (their gray, translucent look was not enticing) and a crab cake that contained too much filling, too little flavor.

I know there are innumerable varieties of schnitzel preparations, but I imagine most folks encountering the term on a menu expect whatever meat involved to be breaded and fried. The chicken schnitzel entree here featured a breading-free and bland cutlet.

However, it rested on a very tasty bed of hearty pappardelle, roasted tomatoes and Swiss chard, lightly bathed in a sauce of brown butter, lemon and caper. With a traditional schnitzel on top, this would have become a terrific dish.

An eight-ounce Delmonico steak was tender, if almost mushy in texture, and gained personality from a buttery topping. Sides of French beans and superbly roasted fingerling potatoes offered sturdy support.

The expansive and exceptional wine list is full of enticements at every price point. We opted for an Australian cabernet (Robert Oatley) that yielded full-bodied pleasure.

Desserts included an elegant cherry tart and a dry, but still enjoyable, pineapple upside down cake.

With all the culinary competition at similar menu price levels these days, there isn’t room at the inn for a variable kitchen. Such an appealing ambience calls out for evenness across the board, increased attention to details. Given the determination and talent that have already done so much to enrich this wonderful property, stepping up the restaurant’s game to a higher level should be very doable and should yield great dividends.

Elkridge Furnace Inn

5745 Furnace Ave, Elkridge


Cuisine: French and American

Prices: Appetizers $12 to $18; entrees $24 to $39

Ambience: An elegantly appointed historic property

Service: Exceptionally charming and attentive

Reservations: Accepted

Parking: Free lot

Special diets: They can be accommodated.

Wheelchair accessible: Yes