Graciousness never goes out of style. Taney town, MD’s Antrim 1844 keeps all of the traditions that it – and graceful people, places – have cherished for decades. I was happy to experience the culinary experience of the Antrim at several times of day recently. The Antrim is pitch-perfect with the country inn tone throughout its menus: the specialness meets comfort. It’s not frou-frou.
Guests staying overnight at the delightful country inn have coffee service brought right to their rooms in the morning – perfect for me, who can’t wake up without it, and doesn’t want to have to face “the world” to get it. Then, in the historic smokehouse-restaurant section of the inn (which you don’t have to leave to reach), a hearty, but still elegant breakfast is served. At the Antrim for breakfast, they do something I’ve never seen any restaurants anywhere – and I’ve eaten all over the US, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, Canada, and the UK. They spread out the diners into as many separate areas as possible. They recognize that many people are on their honeymoon or other special occasion, and would like as much privacy as is feasible. Every other place on the planet would rope off all extra rooms and cram people on top of each other. On this particular occasion, I tried a good, savory breakfast casserole with sweet potato and onion. It wasn’t made with candied Thanksgiving flavorings; rather, everything was seasonal and breakfast-like.
Overnight guests are also invited to partake of afternoon tea. It’s served in the parlor, but definitely not a pinkie sticking out affair. Guests help themselves to many varieties of the gourmet Novus brand of tea. Country-style pastries and hearty sandwich halves complete the snack time.
You’ll definitely want to wear something dressy-nice for dinner at The Antrim. The evening starts with a half-hour cocktail “hour” in the parlor, complete with live piano music, passed delicious little hors d’oeuvres, and either your favorite cocktail or a special wine that they are promoting. The Antrim boasts one of the finest wine collections on the East Coast. Since other couples with similar reservation times are in there, too, the atmosphere can be very social. This is a more civilized way of meeting folks, for sure.
The Antrim has many historic antiques and paintings. Because of its location, both North and South are equally represented in the portraits of Civil War heroes.
If you’re an oenophile, The Antrim will be your newest heaven. Most of us like wine, but aren’t too expert on it. The menu breaks the wines into categories, including “interesting” wines (unusual blends, etc.). So, my advice is to have your expert server pair a glass with each course. They’ll be able to navigate the thousands and thousands of choices and you’ll be able to try a bit of the collection.
An amuse bouche was sent out by the chef: some of the freshest tasting Louisiana shrimp stuffed with a fun creamy filling including sour cream, cream cheese, green onions and almonds. It was paired with Charles Fere Blanc de Blancs champagne, a beautiful, dry, clean/crisp champagne.
The Antrim serves its dinner prix-fixe style, with several choices for each course.
Next came an escolar ceviche garnished with lemon buttery cream dots and a touch of wasabi. It had a beautiful, sweet fresh flavor with a hint of soy. It was expertly paired with a Frenzy Sauvignon Blanc.
A rich, unctuous fois gras – roulade of fois gras with prosciutto (di Parma) and walnut — was paired with a Muscat: the sweet wine complimented the nuances of real fois gras.
Next came a dish totally unique to Chef Michael Gettier: “Mrs. Reed’s Salad”. This is a salad that his neighbor lady made him when he was a little kid for his birthday! It’s a casual, picnic style salad served in pepper Parmesan shells. It’s mayonnaise based, with iceberg lettuce, bacon, peas, and Parmesan shavings. It highlights that the restaurant is not stodgy and has a witty side, not stuck in a 1950’s idea of what fine dining should be. A Charles Krug Chardonnay was paired with the salad, with its buttery notes going well with the creamier salad.
An intermezzo palate cleanser followed: a cranberry-champagne sorbet. It was chockfull of flavor, not merely ice.
One of the more unusual entrees was one I’m so glad I tried! Roulade of lamb with chevre and pinenuts has a Mediterranean flavor. Perfectly cooked lamb loin was complemented by the chevre and also by delicious braised cabbage. It was hearty without being heavy, a great summer entrée.
A “sticky Chardonnay” accompanied the dessert plate. I never tried such a wine before. It’s a Chardonnay that’s much sweeter and thus complements dessert really well. The desserts included a modern chocolate/peanut butter/bacon confection and a more traditional raspberry dacquois.