Thankfully, looks are deceiving Quality: Once past the nondescript exterior, customers will enjoy fresh, reasonably priced food at the Calvert House Restaurant.

November 19, 1998|By Brian Sullam | Brian Sullam,SUN STAFF

Sandwiched between a weight-loss center and a travel agency in a nondescript strip center on Solomons Island Road just south of Annapolis, the Calvert House Restaurant doesn't present an exterior that draws customers.

That's too bad, because if the motorists zipping past slowed down and turned in, they could dine on fresh, well-prepared and tasty food that is reasonably priced.

Although the location could be a handicap for Farhad Salimi -- who has been operating the restaurant for 12 years -- the quality of his food and the friendly service have produced a loyal contingent of customers.

The restaurant is open seven days a week for dinner and weekdays for lunch. My companion and I had no trouble getting a table at lunch this week. Salimi said his restaurant does primarily a dinner business.

The decor is rather straightforward. The walls are painted a dark red and are adorned with prints and what appeared to be a 5-foot stuffed and mounted marlin. Green cloths cover the tables. The intricately folded cloth napkins add a touch of elegance.

The lunch menu is a shortened version of the one offered at dinner but includes a list of sandwiches.

Most of the selection is seafood, which ranges from broiled crab cakes to casseroles. For those interested in chicken or red meat at dinner there are at least 10 dishes, including veal Marsala and rack of lamb.

The menu also contains a nice selection of salads and stir-fries, similar to the evening menu.

Because the Calvert House offers a choice of three fresh fish daily and features two other seafood specialties at lunch and dinner, we picked from the day's specials rather than from the menu.

My companion, who was a Calvert House regular, ordered broiled salmon and asked for "lots" of broccoli as the side vegetable. Salimi, who doubles as the lunch waiter, indicated my companion could have all the broccoli she wanted.

I ordered broiled rockfish and string beans.

All lunch entrees start with a choice of cole slaw or calcuminto. The cole slaw is the standard shredded cabbage and carrot with a mayonnaise-based dressing.

The better choice is calcuminto, a dish of finely chopped cucumber, tomatoes and red and green onions. The vinaigrette dressing was light and tangy. A small loaf of warm bread coated with sesame seeds accompanied the salads.

My rockfish not only came with a nice portion of fresh string beans, but with steamed carrots and Red Bliss potatoes. The fish was perfectly cooked. The top was slightly browned, but the flesh was moist and flaky. The string beans, prepared al dente -- with just a slight crunch -- were lightly coated with an aromatic garlic butter sauce.

My companion's salmon looked equally well-prepared. It was a nice portion of thick filet that was evenly cooked. She got the steamed carrots and potatoes along with her broccoli.

For desert, we ordered a chocolate macadamia nut torte, which came with a dollop of whipped cream and bright red maraschino cherry. Salimi said he doesn't make his desserts but buys them from the best local purveyors. The torte lived up to that claim. It was rich with just the right amount of sweetening.

The meal, which included an iced tea, hot tea and coffee, came to $31.87 with tax.

Considering the high quality of the fish and vegetables and the skill with which they were prepared, the meal was well worth making the turn off Solomons Island Road.

Calvert House

Where: 2444 Solomons Island Road, Annapolis. 410-266-9210

Hours: Lunch, 11: 30 a.m. to 2: 30 p.m. Monday through Friday; dinner, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday.

Prices: Appetizers, $4.25-$7.25; entrees, $8.95-$25.95.

Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express.

Rating: ***

Ratings: * culinary wasteland **** culinary heaven

Pub Date: 11/19/98

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