Set in a residential neighborhood a few blocks from the State House, Northwoods restaurant offers quaint and homey fine dining.
But the real lure is a four-course dinner special for $26.95, available every night except Saturday, that includes any appetizer, salad, main dish and dessert from the menu. They also usually have several specials that can be substituted for entrees on the menu.
On a Friday night, my two dinner companions and I went and found the place moderately crowded. It was dimly lighted with a rather hip-looking bar framed by crates of wine bottles. But the pink floral curtains give the place an almost Midwestern feel.
It's not the kind of place where you would find the up-and-coming Washington crowd that frequents posh downtown Annapolis restaurants. It's more like a place to find locals hiding out from the up-and-coming Washington crowd.
The dinner special is a real bargain. The appetizers range in price from $5.95 to $7.95, and the entrees, from $19.50 to $22. While the salad was made of generic, mostly iceberg lettuce, throw it in with an incredible dessert tray and you're well past $26.95.
Also, you don't have to feel guilty for ordering four courses of food. Hey, all you did was order the dinner special -- a respectable request, especially for diners on a budget.
For the appetizer, I ordered Oysters Italienne -- oysters baked with prosciutto, basil and garlic. They were tasty, though a little too heavily breaded.
One companion went with the Crab meat Portofino, backfin crabmeat in a vinaigrette sauce. It came with a generous portion of crab and a sauce that didn't overwhelm.
The other companion chose the tomato soup, which was the soup of the day. It was thick with an interesting bite to it.
The entrees get rave reviews. Our meals arrived on piping hot plates, heaped with large portions. The filet mignon came with two zesty sauces, and was tender and perfectly cooked.
The Veal Sorrentina, which came sauteed with mushrooms and prosciutto ham, was a bit overwhelmed by the creamy sauce, but still delicious. The pan-seared tuna, a special for the night, was juicy and surrounded by a lighter cream sauce and fresh vegetables bursting with flavor.
Then the waiter rolled around the dessert tray with more than a dozen choices of delicate-looking tarts, pies, cheesecakes, chocolate mousses and cakes. The chocolate apricot cake covered with chocolate mousse was mouth-watering.
We hadn't thought it was possible to eat more, but it was the dinner special. You have to get dessert. See how that works?
Our bill, with a bottle of wine and a couple of coffees, but without tip, came to $114.30.
Where: 609 Melvin Ave., Annapolis 410-268-6775
Hours: Dinner, 5: 30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Prices: Appetizers, $5.95-$7.95; entrees, $19.50-$23
Credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express
Rating: *** 1/2
Ratings: * culinary wasteland **** culinary heaven
Pub Date: 3/04/99