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Wined & Dined: Unique, Local, Romantic Restaurants

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Just in case you forgot, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and now is the time to plan some quality time with the one you love. Food is something we eat everyday, so why not save up a few extra dollars and try out a new place that you are not going to forget?  The following are suggestions for places to eat that offer a romantic, but unique, experience.  I honestly think that almost everyone would enjoy any of these restaurants as they each provide a different experience to satisfy even the pickiest eater.  Now is the perfect opportunity to think outside the chain-restaurant box that most people have become used to.

Annabel Lee Tavern

(Staff Photo/Alison Miller)

Annabel Lee Tavern, located in the Canton area of Baltimore, is one of my favorite restaurants -maybe because of the dark Edgar Allen Poe motif.  One thing I know for sure is that the food is great.  I have been there a few times and every time has been a great experience. The cooks there really know what they are doing. The food is mainly modern-American comfort food, offering a little bit of everything. What I particularly like about Annabel Lee is their ability to take a traditional recipe and make it taste new and incredible:  One of my favorite items from their menu, the beef and Guinness pie, really showcases that ability.

(Staff Photo/Alison Miller)

The menu offers entrees and sandwiches as low as $9 and usually nothing beyond $24. Besides the food, the beer really is a plus. They offer many beers that I highly recommend, including Raven Lager, Blue Point Blueberry Ale, and Brewer’s Art Resurrection. I know a little more about beer than wine, but the wine list seems pretty decent, with an emphasis on wine by the bottle, instead of by the glass. With a great atmosphere for dating, especially for Valentine’s Day, wine by the bottle shouldn’t be a problem!

There are only two problems.  First, parking is very difficult to find in that area and, second, it is a smaller locale with a limited number of tables. With that being said, make reservations and give yourself plenty of time to circle around the block over and over. You really won’t be able to miss this place, considering the outside is just as Poe inspired as the inside; just look for ravens and poetry.

I had the opportunity to talk to the owner, Kurt Bragunier, who explained to me that Valentine’s Day is to the Annabel Lee Tavern as St. Patrick’s Day is to Irish bars. Unfortunately, the dining area is already booked up for Valentine’s Day, but they still accept walk-ins for the bar area. Starting the 14th until the rest of the week, the restaurant will feature romantic décor, such as lights and rose petals. For Valentine’s Day only, the menu is expanded to include a variety of upscale entrees and a focus on desserts. Few of the items to look forward to are lobster tail, chocolate dipped strawberries, and cheesecake. Even at the bar, the full menu is still available. Valentine’s Day, or any regular day, you need to check out Annabel Lee Tavern.

[box type=”shadow”] Annabel Lee Tavern

Location: 601 South Clinton Street Baltimore, MD 21224

Telephone: (410) 522-2929

Website: http://www.annabelleetavern.com[/box]

 

Sumittra Thai Cuisine

(Credit: Sumittra Thai Cuisine)

Sumittra, in Fredrick, is one of the best Thai restaurants I have been to. The décor is very elegant and the food is upscale and flavorful. Even though the food is fine dining, you can still dress casually.  I really appreciate places that offer impressive food, but still feel comfortable and friendly.

Thai food, for me, is fun to eat because of the array of flavors and a lot of dishes compliment each other very well. The prices are still very reasonable, especially since the food seems pretty fresh, tastes great, and is presented nicely. Most main dishes range from $12 to $23. While I was there, I had the pork, which is generally $13 for most dishes, and it is the tenderest pork I have ever had. Sumittra, like most Thai restaurants, provides a lot of options for vegetarian customers. I tend to pair beer with my meals when I am eating out, but the beer menu here could have been larger.

(Staff Photo/Alison Miller)

It is safe to say that they are going to be busy on Valentine’s Day because Fredrick is a popular food destination, so I would make reservations. The street Sumittra is located on is packed with restaurants, so get there a little earlier – it is street parking only.

As for Valentine’s Day specials, they are promoting their “Sweet Hearts” prix fix four-course menu. It is $42 per person and includes a flute of champagne. I highly recommend the ginger and vanilla creme brulee, which is currently available on the regular Sweet Hearts menu.
Unfortunately, the Sweet Hearts menu is only being offered during the 13th through the 15th, even though most people are probably going to celebrate the weekend before. Even if you don’t go with the four-course special, I feel it is easy to create a more than satisfying meal for less than the cost of the special.

[box type=”shadow”] Sumittra Thai Cuisine

Location: 12 East Patrick Street Frederick, MD 21701

Telephone: (301) 668-2303

Website: http://www.sumittra.com[/box]

 

The Grill at Harryman House

(Credit: The Grill at Harryman House)

More commonly referred to as simply Harryman House, this restaurant would be enjoyable for a comfortable, relaxed Valentine’s dinner.  Harryman House is located in Reisterstown, right along Main Street. They offer a wide range of quality Modern-American cuisine, alongside a nice wine list and a decent selection of beer.  My experience there brought to my attention that if you are looking for local beer, you should ask if they offer anything not listened on the menu. I have learned that restaurants that truly care about the experience of the patron usually are flexible about the menu and sometimes provide extra, unlisted items.

(Staff Photo/Alison Miller)

The menu offers a variety of dishes to choose from, including, but not limited to, a raw-bar, mid-sized plates, and a selection of gourmet pizzas. The regular entrees tend to range in price between $17 and $28, but if you are looking to be a little more cost efficient, I would take a look at the mid-priced plates and sandwiches, ranging from $9.50 to $16.50. The food is more up-scale compared to other places in the area, but the environment feels very inviting and not stuffy in the least.  The building was originally an old house, built in 1791, and later turned into a restaurant. They do not cook everything from scratch, but the food is still very good and most people would be pleased with what they offer.

Calling ahead to make a reservation is highly recommended. I was informed that they are already starting their reservation list, so call soon. In addition to their normal menu, there will be added items, mainly seafood and steak specials. If you go out the weekend before Valentine’s Day, the menu will also feature some specials:  call the restaurant for details.  If you plan on eating there sometime other than Valentine’s Day, I suggest that you check out the list of daily deals shown on the Harryman House website.

[box type=”shadow”] The Grill at Harryman House

Location: 340 Main Street Reisterstown, MD 21136

Telephone: (410) 833-8850

Website: http://www.harrymanhouse.com[/box]

3 Comments on "Wined & Dined: Unique, Local, Romantic Restaurants"

  1. Nice article. I am Chris Ceary’s mom. My husband and I date every Wednesday night, therefore, I loved reading your article for new places to enjoy, especially ones someone had scoped out and found to be very nice. Thank you. Barb

  2. Michelle Parke | February 16, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Reply

    Nice job, Alison. I like the variety of restaurants here.

    I can’t go without plugging Woodberry Kitchen. And, though it might be traditionally romantic, the new Heavy Seas Alehouse, which just opened downtown, is certainly full of romance for beer lovers.

  3. Thanks!
    I was choosing between Woodberry Kitchen, Brewer’s Art, and Annabel Lee, which are all my favorites. My goal was to pick varying locations, which is why I only one baltimore restuarant. Annabel Lee won because of its theme and extreme romantic quality. I haven’t been to Heavy Seas, but I really want to.

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