Corinthian offers fine dining Elegance: The decor is exceeded in taste only by the imaginative and excellent food. The experience does not come cheap.

November 12, 1998|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

From the moment you walk into The Corinthian restaurant at Loews Annapolis Hotel, it's easy to see why County Executive John G. Gary eats there. It also is easy to understand why County Executive-elect Janet Owens made a crack about the county's food budget during the campaign.

The Corinthian is pricey. It also is fine dining in the true sense of the term. The rose-colored upholstery on the chairs matches the floor-length curtains, which blend perfectly with the cream-colored rug and covered chairs, all of which go so nicely with the marble tabletops and the paintings.

But better than the ambience -- which makes you want to melt into the table permanently -- is the food. Angel hair crab cakes; seared tuna and crab; roasted rack of lamb with butternut squash puree: The menu promises so much flavor and variety it takes a half-hour to decide on a dish.

My two dinner companions and I settled on two appetizers, pepper seared Ahi tuna, which came as fairly raw tuna TTC blackened with pepper on the outside, and a roasted portobello mushroom perfectly mixed with melted asiago cheese, prosciutto and artichoke hearts ($7 each). These unusual dishes were so tasty, with different sauces creating an artistic presentation, that we felt if we got up and left after eating them, we would have been satisfied.

But we continued, my companions trying the baked goat cheese on farm greens salad with an apricot vinaigrette dressing ($6) and Corinthian creamy crab soup ($5). Both were excellent. The apricot added a nice flair to the salad, and the soup, we agreed, while probably a bowl of cream, butter and spices, was one of the best we'd ever had.

I ordered the crab cakes ($26), which came with fresh vegetables and butter sauce. They were full of crab and void of shell, but perhaps because I like my crab cakes straight, I thought the pasta mixed with the crab meat inside the cake took away from the overall crab cake experience.

The companion who ordered the roasted rack of lamb ($25) said the tender, juicy pieces were perfectly cooked. The other tried a perfectly cooked, flavorful filet mignon, served with shiitake ragout and the restaurant's signature mashed potatoes that melt in your mouth ($26).

We also ordered two desserts, chocolate cake and coconut cake, which you know, as you walk past the dessert tray on your way in, will be to-die-for. And they lived up to the expectation easily.

We argued for a while over just what it is Gary orders when he eats at the Corinthian: Is it the roasted half chicken? Or the salmon with kalamata olive-caper relish? Or is he a steak man, diving daily into the New York strip with balsamic onions and tomato bearnaise?

Whatever, The Corinthian is a sure bet for excellent service and food if your wallet can handle it.

Our dinner with tax and tip, but not including wine, came to $134.55.

The Corinthian

Where: Loews Annapolis Hotel, 126 West St., Annapolis, 410-263-7777

Hours: 6: 30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday

Prices: Appetizers, $7-$8; entrees, $19-$28 Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express

Rating: ****

Ratings: * culinary wasteland -- **** culinary heaven

Pub Date: 11/12/98

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