For meal, lodgings, a delicious bargain Restaurant: Herrington on the Bay, tucked away in Rose Haven, offers an intriguing blend of Maryland and Caribbean cuisine.

$50 and Under

December 24, 1997|By David Michael Ettlin and Bonnie J. Schupp | David Michael Ettlin and Bonnie J. Schupp,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

A wedding celebration brought us to our latest discovery -- Anne Arundel's southernmost restaurant.

The party was held at the Herrington Harbor Marina Resort, on the Chesapeake Bay in Rose Haven. Many of the guests were lingering around the large, heated serving trays of crab dip, which also got our attention.

Intrigued by the dip and the subsequent wedding buffet, we checked out the menu in the adjoining Herrington on the Bay restaurant and found it -- with careful ordering -- to qualify in our $50-and-under range.

But Rose Haven is not exactly around the corner from our base in Pasadena, so we took a day off (timed to Bonnie's birthday) and reserved a deluxe room with a whirlpool-equipped patio, offered at a midweek rate of $89.

David, an ever-hopeful bargain hunter, asked whether any meals were included.

As a matter of fact, Herrington had another midweek deal -- $99 for the room and dinner for two, with a choice of one appetizer and one dessert. Beverages, tax and tip were extra.

The appetizer was easy: crab dip. Priced on the menu at $6.95, the warm blend of Parmesan, Monterey jack and cream cheeses, Maryland crab meat and Old Bay seasoning, served with a thinly sliced mini-loaf of french bread, was enough to serve three.

The garden salad was fresh, perhaps a little heavy on red onions, with excellent dressings -- Bonnie's a sweet honey-mustard and David's a remarkable combination of ginger, lime and coconut milk.

Bonnie chose as her entree a fresh catch of the day, a large portion of salmon filet, broiled and accompanied by seasoned steamed rice and fresh, crisp broccoli.

David, waffling over the nearly dozen choices on the small but intriguing "Maribbean" menu (a hostess' apt term for its Maryland-Caribbean character), ordered a mixed grill that included shrimp marinated in coconut milk and tomato, and flash-grilled; tender beef in a ginger-lime marinade; and Caribbean jerk chicken, marinated in hot peppers, allspice and citrus.

For dessert, we split the "chocolate decadence," a mousselike round piece of cake with thick, rich dark icing and a dab of cream topping.

Alas, Herrington proved not quite perfect. The rice -- an Italian arborio type, steamed in a base of tomato, onion and chicken stock -- could have idled a bit longer in the pot. It was downright crunchy.

We enjoyed relative privacy -- the drizzly night likely putting a damper on business that the midweek special aims to increase. The only other diners were a couple in the smoking section which, along with an adjoining bar, lacked the ventilation to fully eliminate the odor of cigarettes.

The dinner tab -- were it not for the $99 special -- would have run about a buck under our $50 ceiling, and that included a cup of coffee and a glass of chardonnay.

The eat-and-sleep deal runs at least through January. Herrington also offers a 25 percent discount on entrees for those dining before 6 p.m.

Editor's note: Once a month, David and Bonnie explore Anne Arundel County eateries in search of a good meal for two priced under $50 (before tip and taxes). They welcome readers' suggestions of favorite restaurants under the price ceiling. Write to them at P.O. Box 1152, Pasadena 21123-1152.

Herrington on the Bay

Where: 7149 Route 261, Rose Haven. 410-741-5101, 301-855-8435

Hours: Dinner, 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Lunch, weekends only, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

Dinner prices: appetizers, $4.25 to $8.95; sandwiches, from $5.50; entrees, $13.50 to $19.50 (crab and fresh fish, market price)

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club

Rating: *** 1/2

Ratings: * culinary wasteland

**** culinary heaven

Pub Date: 12/23/97

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