Treaty of Paris lacks a delicate touch

Restaurant review

May 18, 2000|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

The Treaty of Paris restaurant on Main Street in Annapolis is one of the longest-reigning eating establishments in town. And why not? The food is classic, the place historic and the service excellent.

And yet on a recent Friday night, as I and two companions arrived for dinner at 8:30 p.m., for the first time in almost three years, I was struck by how 1980s the decorations appeared and how nearly empty the dining room was.

An unchanged menu

And despite a recent change in chefs, the menu looked almost the same as three years ago.

Treaty of Paris does all the details right, from mouth-melting popovers in the bread basket to the lime sorbet served between the appetizer and main course.

What seemed lacking was delicacy. Some dishes could have been excellent had they not been a bit overdone. The food meant to be heavy was good; it was the light dishes that were too heavy.

A jazz band was thumping out fabulous music in the bar down the hall, but the restaurant's overhead speakers were playing elevator-style classical music possibly in an attempt to drown out the jazz - which sounded worse.

One friend's Treaty of Paris entree ($22.95) was outstanding for its well-prepared sauteed shrimp, scallops, lobster, clams and mussels.

But it came on a bed of bland spinach pasta drowned in an equally bland, over-rich white sauce.

Another friend ordered crab cakes ($21.95), which came without the bothersome pieces of shell, bursting with lump crab meat and lobster, and perfectly seasoned and baked.

But the crab cakes were plopped in a puddle of creamy sauce that threatened to seep through the cake.

The asparagus was well-cooked and crispy, but floating on a plate of butter.

I ordered the beef Wellington ($23.95), with onions and foie gras pate baked in a puff pastry with bordelaise sauce.

When you order beef Wellington with pate and a puff pastry, you expect richness and this entree lived up to expectations. It was tender and juicy, and the sauce was lightly drizzled on.

Crab soup up, salad down

The cream of crab soup is still one of the best in town, but the Caesar salad was covered in a rich, tasteless white dressing.

The desserts were remarkable. We sucked our spoons after eating chocolate mousse, cheesecake and key lime pie, all in a raspberry-mango sauce.

Treaty of Paris is still a good place to eat, it might just be in need of a shake-up - and a face lift. (The dark colors of the blue and maroon carpet looked like someone yanked it out of a Holiday Inn banquet room.)

Our meal, including tax and a $28 bottle of wine that was one of the cheapest on the menu, came to $135.14 without tip.

Treaty of Paris

Where: Main Street and Church Circle, Annapolis, 410-263-2641.

Hours: Dinner, 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Sundays through Thursdays; 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays. Open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays for breakfast and lunch (closed for half-hour between 10:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.). Sunday brunch 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Prices: Appetizers, $6.95-$8.95; entrees, $19:95-$26.95

Credit cards: all

Rating: * * * 1/4

Ratings: * culinary wasteland * * * * culinary heaven

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