The York Inn
Where: 10010 York Road, Cockeysville.
Hours: Open for lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays; dinner 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; Sunday brunch 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Credit Cards: AE, MC, V.
Features: American and Continental cuisine.
Call: 666-0006 Yes, it's there, right between the gas station and the Bedding Barn mattress outlet. "It," however, is not another tire outlet or burger joint, but a very nice restaurant, whose low-key good taste could very well get lost among the commercial tackiness of the York Road strip.
The York Inn is not the flashiest performer in town, but it offers good food in a sophisticated, almost citified, setting. It has a clean-lined contemporary style even while celebrating York Road's more picturesque past. The back wall is lined with blowups of scenes from the days when the strip was pleasant country land: horse-drawn wagons parked in front of an icehouse, a long-gone fieldstone hotel, a gaggle of 1920s kids having their picture taken at the fairgrounds. This peek into the past is better than a view.
The cuisine is American-Continental, executed with a flair that takes it beyond the generic. French onion soup, coated with a golden-brown layer of cheese, had an admirable broth with a full, rounded flavor, a touch of sweetness and more than a touch of nutty cheese taste. Smoked Nova salmon was thick-cut, and came with capers, onion, chopped egg, toast points and a killer horseradish cream.
Except for a couple of ghastly pale-pink tomato wedges, the salads were excellent, with homemade croutons and first-rate blue cheese and ranch dressings. Our waiter did the pepper mill honors; he had a pleasant Paul Robeson basso voice, and performed all his duties with quiet class.
The mahi-mahi teriyaki ($11.95) offered a generous portion of unfortunately tasteless fish. The grilling and the gingery teriyaki sauce, served on the side, did their part to overcome the blandness of the main ingredient, though.
The filet mignon duo in the steak Diane ($15.95) didn't have the handsome thickness of such steaks in posher restaurants, but couldn't have been bettered for tenderness. The meat also had a fine beefy flavor that stood up to an extroverted sauce containing Dijon mustard, shallots, brandy and bits of mushroom.
The veggies were Mom-style; the green beans, in other words, were fresh but overcooked, the mashed potatoes simply wonderful.
We sampled the only house-made dessert, rice pudding served with heaps of whipped cream, as well as the coconut meringue pie. Both tasted just like something you might find in your favorite diner.