Sophisticated American cuisine, fireside: Antrim 1844’s Smokehouse Restaurant

Elevated. Whether you’re staying at Antrim 1844 or coming for dinner, you’ll instantly realize that this isn’t the typical inn restaurant. At those few inns that serve an evening meal along with breakfast, so many are locked into very antiquated, overly “comforting” ideas of what a menu should look like. But at Antrim 1844’s Smokehouse Restaurant, Chef Andrew Fontaine commandeers the bounty of local farms into innovative takes on classic gourmet dishes. Dining here is an experience, not just a meal. The ambiance, wines, presentation . . . all contribute to a unique evening. I was happy to be hosted to experience it!

Diners gather 1/2 hour before their reservation in a salon filled with Federal antiques. Here are passed hors d’oeuvres, with orders taken for recommended wines and your favorite cocktails. Like an elegant house party, it gives you the opportunity to share an anecdote, an observation, a joke and other pleasantries with your fellow guests. It’s an uncommonly seen tradition these days, to be sure. But in the Victorian times from which the Antrim dates, social graces succeeded in supporting many advances . . . something to consider, in these self-absorbed texting days!

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The Antrim has what is widely considered one of the most prized wine collections on the East Coast. The owner had (and has!) an enviable private collection that was the seed of the restaurant’s. The cozy wine cellar can be rented out for small, private gatherings.

Carroll County, Maryland is proud of its — and nearby — farms growing high quality produce: Liberty View, Chesapeake Farm to Table, Little Gunpowder, Good Dog, Flying Plow, Bee Green Apiaries, McDaniel Honey, Elysian Fields, The Chef’s Garden.

The restaurant is built in the semi-subterranean historic smokehouse, with little cosseted areas, for a private feeling. There a pianist, roaring fireplace, as well as portraits of Civil War generals. For a given evening’s intimate group of diners, Chef is able to source special, luxurious foodstuffs, such as Kajiki (Pacific blue marlin). Often, there’s wild game on the menu.

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Not all of us are wine experts, but that’s fine! Your sommelier is and many fine offerings are available by the glass.

 

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