Urbana has always seemed to be a singularly mislabeled town. Neither urban nor urbane, Urbana (however it may have gotten its name) remains rural, rustic and charming in a definitely countrified way.
The Blue Fox Inn shares these virtues. Located outside Urbana on the road to Frederick, this is an attractive restaurant that shows its farmhouse origins in both its architecture and its menu, which is very simple, very American -- and very good. Forget fancy sauces. If you are in the mood for something like roast turkey, liver and onions or a crab cake, you can count on getting fresh, unfussy food and plenty of it.
The restaurant is divided into two sections. The front of the house is antique and soul-soothing, with white paneled walls, lace curtains, Windsor chairs and a collection of vintage cups and saucers. Beyond the big black wood stove is a newer section (including a bar), with a contemporary feel and large framed photographs of luscious-looking produce.
Whichever section you choose, be sure to arrive with a country-sized appetite. There's no grazing or "lite fare" here; every dinner is a full four-course feed. The entree price is all-inclusive, making the total tab gratifyingly low.
Appetizer choices included a crab and shrimp pate and a fresh fruit cup that turned out to be nothing more than (admittedly appealing) chunks of three different melons. The former wasn't really a pate, but the creamy crab mixture studded with tiny shrimp tasted luxurious; the portion was small, so as not to overwhelm the appetite. It came with packaged commercial crackers, but was best eaten alone, in tiny bites. Salads, which followed, were just average.
The evening's special, which my friend sampled, was mako shark ($14.95), which is just about as trendy as the Blue Fox gets. The charbroiled fish was a dream: moist, alluringly smoky, and practically exploding with flavor. And there was enough of it to doggy-bag. The chicken in my chicken Parmagiano ($14.95) -- which is just about as international as the Blue Fox gets -- was all huge, meaty, boneless breast, sauteed until lightly crisp, and blanketed with mozzarella and a pleasing tomato sauce.
I like my green beans a bit crisper, but my companion practically inhaled her portion, then started lustfully eyeing mine.
We would have known the desserts were homemade without being told. Feather-light angel food cake with chocolate chips and chocolate sauce, and ultra-rich vanilla ice cream topped with a raspberry-Kahlua sauce . . . ah, country life can be sweet.
Blue Fox Inn
Where: Route 355, between Frederick and Urbana.
Hours: Open for lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays; dinner 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays to Thursdays, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays.
Credit Cards: AE, CB, DC, MC, V.
Features: American dishes.
Non-smoking section? Yes.
Call: (301) 831-4878.