Wednesday, November 19, 2014

c. 1740 Lounge at the Milton Inn

Shrimp scampi, beef tenderloin tartare, blackened beef tenderloin
In our minds, the Milton Inn is a swell spot for a celebratory dinner. The elegantly appointed dining rooms and the rich cuisine seem so very appropriate on anniversaries and birthdays. But now there's the more casual c. 1740 Lounge, which incorporates the restaurant's bar, Hearth Room, and outdoor patio. On a recent chilly evening, we were invited to sample proprietor/executive chef Brian Boston's new lounge menu of small plates. As our group enjoyed a drink before dinner, a couple dining at the bar, Milton Inn regulars, made it known to us that they were thrilled about the new concept.

After conversation and a snack of creamy crab dip with the smack of horseradish, we were encouraged to take seats at tables set up in the cozy Hearth room and an adjacent smaller dining room perfectly sized for a fun dinner for a dozen or so friends.

Now, when I said "sample the menu," I meant it. There are 26 items currently available; we tasted 21 of them. And not a clunker in the bunch. The oyster stew (which happens to be featured in our cookbook, Baltimore Chef's Table), is a standout, and the shellfish soup is light and dreamy, redolent of lobster stock. Other favorites included the beef tenderloin tartare, the Fall Harvest salad and its surprising maple vinaigrette, and the "pasta of the moment," which at that moment involved spinach, mascarpone, and lemon.

Beef Tenderloin Tartare: With anchovy aioli, sriracha, capers, shallot, cornichons,
quail egg yolk, smoked sea salt and toasted baguette
We were pleased to see sweetbreads on the menu, and even more pleased when we found we didn't have to share a bite with any of the five other offal-averse diners at our table. The delicately-flavored organ meat was smothered in a rich marsala mushroom cream sauce and served with toasted baguette.

There's a nod to vegetarians with a "crab cake" made from shredded zucchini and served with white beans. The pasta of the moment will often be vegetarian, and there are a couple of salads to choose from as well. However, between the several types of shellfish, beef, chicken, venison, salmon, and organ meats, omnivores fare best at c. 1740 Lounge.

The food is uniformly delicious, and the price is right. Courses begin at $12, with a supplement on some dishes with obviously pricier ingredients. Wine pairings are $4 for a 2-ounce pour and $7 for 4 ounces, but if you prefer a cocktail, do try the Port Poached Pear Martini, with gin, vodka, pear liqueur, pineapple juice, port, and sweet and sour. Dinner at the Lounge is available 7 days a week, and one can also enjoy lunch Monday through Friday. Despite the low-key atmosphere, the food and service are still top-notch.

When we thought of the Milton Inn as a special occasion restaurant, the drive up to Sparks seemed like a journey. Now, we realize, it's just a pleasant jaunt up the road.

Milton Inn on Urbanspoon

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats.

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