Raising the bar on mall restaurants

Restaurant Review


Greystone Grill has reinvented the concept of a mall restaurant. Now you can shop at Wal-Mart and then walk to this contemporary steak and seafood house for dinner. Your wine vault awaits. It will cost you a mere $1,500 and will house up to 24 bottles. Vaults are prominently on display with the owner's name in big letters. And yes, several have already been sold.

At first glance, Greystone seems as pricey as upscale steakhouses like Ruth's Chris. The difference is that the food isn't a la carte. So while the cowboy rib-eye, a specialty of the house, costs $31.50, it comes with a vegetable or starch and a salad.

This is a large, 20-ounce hunk of bone-in rib-eye, flavorful but not spectacularly well-marbled. (Another difference seems to be that it isn't USDA prime beef.) Given the price, you'd do better to order the beef short ribs glazed with molasses and mustard. The glaze doesn't overwhelm the fork-tender, juicy meat; it just enhances it. Have the short ribs with the lumpy but lovable potatoes mashed with roasted onions.

I will say one thing: You get quantity here. If 20 ounces of beef is a bit more than you usually eat, try the Greystone skewers, an appetizer and another specialty. There is a generous amount of marinated and grilled medallions with a peanut sauce for dipping. Order the overflowing mussel pan roast and you'll get enough of them for a light meal, with plenty of tomatoes in a wine, garlic and herb sauce.

Along the same small plates line, three fat scallops arrive wrapped in crisp bacon, on a bed of sauteed spinach with a lemon butter sauce - a lot of lemon butter sauce. The soup of the day can be surprisingly down home - given those wine vaults. This day it was turkey rice, obviously homemade with big chunks of turkey, flavorful and, for once, not too salty.

My husband's catch of the day, however, was too salty to eat. It was a fillet of rockfish, with lump crabmeat and a citrus beurre blanc. What a waste of good fish.

You can eat for a bit less here if you have pasta or a dinner salad. Lobster lovers will be pleased with the linguini, with chunks of shellfish nestled in pasta tossed with cream sauce, sauteed red peppers and mushrooms. It's done with a delicate touch.

The salads that come with dinner are surprisingly expensive if you order them a la carte ($7.50 each). The best of them is the Caesar, but there's also a quarter of a head of iceberg dressed with blue cheese, tomatoes and crumbled bacon. The house salad, with mixed greens, candied cashews, blue cheese and a raspberry vinaigrette is sweet enough to have for dessert.

But on second thought, the carrot cake, moist and studded with pineapple and raisins with the classic cream cheese dressing, is a better bet for dessert. The apple cheesecake was fine, too. Our favorite would probably have been the molten chocolate lava bomba, which sounded like a chocolate souffle. But it came out as runny as chocolate sauce.

Not to end on a negative note, Greystone Grill has hot, soft rolls that taste freshly baked. And if you don't have your own bottles in a wine vault, there is a mostly California wine list of about 40 bottles, and every one is available by the glass. A flight of wines is featured regularly. For connoisseurs who aren't quite up to the vault experience, there is also a more polished list of "the innkeeper's private cellar selection." Don't ask who the innkeeper is or, for that matter, what the inn is.

The Greystone Grill, which is the second in a local chain, has a good looking, contemporary dining room and a very nice staff. Unfortunately, the staff couldn't keep straight who got what at our table; but other than that, the service was fine, even though the restaurant was busy. Now they need to get the kitchen in line with the rest. Our meal was simply too uneven for the whopping price tag.



Address: 118 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley.

Hours: Open daily for lunch and dinner.

Greystone Grill Prices: Appetizers: $9-$16, entrees: $17-$34

Call: 410-527-0999.

Food: ** 1/2 -- 2 1/2 STARS

Service: *** -- 3 STARS

Atmosphere: *** -- 3 STARS

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