Treaty of Paris pampers patrons with divine cuisine and service

July 05, 1991|By Lynn Williams | Lynn Williams,Sun Restaurant Critic

Feeling frazzled? In this weather, it's hard not to. If you can't escape to other latitudes, try an escape to the 18th century. In candlelit rooms of brick and beam, fussed over by an attentive, gracious staff, you can forget you ever heard the word "stress."

Pampering? The Treaty of Paris, in Annapolis' historic Maryland Inn, might have invented the concept. (The treaty in question ended America's revolution against monarchy, but the restaurant that honors it certainly treats its customers as royalty.) Matchbooks with the name of the person who made the reservation printed in gold. Breadbaskets heaped with popovers and hot corn bread sticks instead of, well, bread. Waiters who appear, smiling, when you need them. And chef Kevin Wilson's food which, like the aforementioned revolution, is boldly American, but executed with a decisive French influence.

"Ummmmm, tastes like money," said my dining companion as he savored a bit of the lobster mousse terrine ($9.95), a light but extremely luxurious shellfish confection -- expensive, but justifiably so. (I didn't see the "wasabi and shaved black olives" that supposedly accompanied this dish, but the more conventional horseradish cream was very much to my taste.)

The gravlax of tuna ($7.25) was described as "thin slices of fresh yellowfin tuna cured with kosher salt, sugar, lemon, mixed peppercorns, tarragon and Bourbon whiskey"; with all those assertive ingredients at work, I was surprised at the delicate, elusive flavor of the fish. This is not a criticism, mind you, but those who expect a gravlax with the accent on the "lox" should consider themselves warned.

Silver Queen corn, that monarch of Maryland cuisine, made an appearance in both of our entrees. It contributed its special sweet flavor to the buttery, shiitake-rich bonne femme sauce that bathed the pan-fried lake trout ($16.25), deboned, butterflied and gently fried in a light jacket of cornmeal. And it added a teasing crunch to the sauteed tournedos East Stone ($21.95), a concoction of fork-tender filet mignon with a wine-dark flavor, topped with the corn, crab meat and chives. Each dish was mysteriously, and marvelously, both glamorous and unaffected -- which is the secret weapon of the restaurant as a whole.

Dessert-fanciers will immediately take heart when they see the pastry cart, laden with huge, handsome cakes and pies, trundling around the room. And when they note that the pastry chef -- Dan Hawthorne -- is credited on the menu. And when they spot that "souffle du jour" listing! Mr. Hawthorne's linzer torte ($4) was very good, heavy only with raspberries. But the chocolate souffle with mocha cream ($5.95) was sublime. You couldn't do better in Paris itself.

Treaty of Paris

Where: Maryland Inn, Church Circle and Main St., Annapolis

Hours: Open for breakfast 7 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Mondays to Fridays, 8 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Sundays; lunch 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily; dinner 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; Sunday brunch 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Credit Cards: AE, CB, DC, MC, V

Features: New American cuisine

No-smoking section? Yes

Call: (301) 269-0990

*** 1/2

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