One of Maryland's most luxurious and elegant destinations to eat -- and stay overnight, too is Taneytown's Antrim 1844. At the Antrim, graciousness never goes out of style. They keep all the traditions that it -- and graceful people, places -- have cherished for decades. The Antrim is pitch-perfect with the country inn tone throughout its menus: the specialness meets comfort. It's not frou-frou.
Guests staying overnight at the delightful country inn have coffee service brought right to their rooms in the morning. Then, in the historic smokehouse-restaurant section of the inn (which you don't have to leave to reach), a hearty, but still elegant breakfast is served. They do something I've never seen other restaurants do anywhere: they spread out diners into as many separate areas as possible. They recognize that many people are on their honeymoon or other special occasion, and would like as much privacy as is feasible. Breakfast offerings are fresh and seasonal.
Overnight guests are also invited to partake of afternoon tea served in the parlor. Guests help themselves to many varieties of the gourmet Novus brand of tea. Country-style pastries and hearty sandwich halves complete the snack time.
Dinner is dressy at the Antrim. The evening starts with a convivial half-hour cocktail "hour" in the parlor, complete with live piano music, passed delicious little hors d'oeuvres and either your favorite cocktail or a special wine that they are promoting. The Antrim boasts one of the finest wine collections on the East Coast. Since other couples with similar reservation times are in there, too, the atmosphere can be very social. This is a more civilized way of meeting folks, for sure.
The Antrim has many historic antiques and paintings. Because of its location, both North and South are equally represented in the portraits of Civil War heros.
If you're an oenophile, the Antrim will be your newest heaven. The menu breaks the wines into categories, including "interesting" wines (unusual blends, etc.).
An amuse bouche was sent out to me by the chef: some of the freshest tasting Louisiana shrimp stuffed with a fun creamy filling including sour cream, cream cheese, green onions and almonds. It was paired with Charles Fere Blanc de Blancs champagne, a beautiful, dry, clean/crisp champagne.
The Antrim serves its dinner prix-fixe style, with several choices for each course.
The next course I received was an escolar ceviche garnished with lemon buttery cream dots and a touch of wasabi. It had a beautiful, sweet fresh flavor with a hint of soy. It was expertly paired with a Frenzy Sauvignon Blanc.
A rich, unctuous fois gras -- roulade of fois gras with prosciutto (di Parma) and walnut -- was paired with a Muscat: the sweet wine complimented the nuances of real fois gras.
Next came a dish totally unique to Chef Michael Gettier: "Mrs. Reed's Salad". This is a salad that his neighbor lady made him when he was a little kid for his birthday! It's a casual, picnic-style salad served in pepper Parmasan shells. It's mayonnaise based, with iceberg lettuce, bacon, peas, and Parmasan shavings. It highlights that the restaurant isn't stodgy and has a witty side -- not stuck in a 1950's idea of what fine dining should be. A Charles Krug Chardonnay was paired with the salad, with its buttery notes going well with the creamier salad.
An intermezzo palate cleanser followed: a cranberry-champagne sorbet. It was chock full of flavor, not merely ice.
One of the more unusual entrees was one of the best. Roulade of lamb with chevre and pignoli has a Mediterranean flavor. Perfectly cooked lamb loin was complemented by the chevre and also by delicious braised cabbage. It was hearty without being heavy.
A "sticky Chardonnay" accompanied the dessert plate. It's a Chardonnay that's much sweeter and thus complements dessert really well. The desserts included a modern chocolate/peanut butter/bacon confection and a more traditional raspberry dacqois.