On a frigid Baltimore evening, in which going directly home after work to a warm cup of soup sounds ideal, at least 150 patrons made their way to Linwoods for dinner. It was a random Wednesday night, yet Linwoods had a buzz to it.
The two hostesses were kept busy by all the incoming guests, and assisting them with their thick winter coats. Once we made our way to the main dining room, the tantalizing smells coming from the open kitchen enticed the senses, and made you excited about your meal. Though there wasn’t a wait for dinner, the place was full – people quickly pounced as seats became available at the bar.
We were there to meet with one of Linwoods event managers to discuss a future event, and admittedly we weren’t incredibly hungry, or thirsty for that matter. The cocktail/wine menu was nicely put together with a plethora of options, which we couldn’t pass up. I was impressed to see a plentiful amount of various whiskies available, ranging from American bourbon, to Scotch and even small batch artisan spirits. Passing up scotch served neat was very difficult; however, I settled on the speakeasy and my fiancé settled on the L75 (per recommendation of the event manager).
Both cocktails were prepared in individual size Boston shakers, which were poured tableside and left on the table for you to refill your glass once it got low. A relatively simple concept, yet unheard of in modern day fine dining – or any type of dining for that matter. Better than the generous portion of booze was the craftiness of the drinks themselves. The speakeasy was a rye whiskey based drink, having yellow chartreuse, sweet vermouth and orange infused bitters. This cocktail embodied the bold whiskey yet provided floral background notes making it very drinkable and delicious. The L75 was a play on a traditional French 75 cocktail, featuring Hendricks gin, St. Germaine, fresh lemon juice and finished with sparkling wine. The drink arrives with a sugar cube on the bottom, which continued to fizzle like champagne as the evening went on – another excellent cocktail.
The menu features quite an array of items, ranging from cornmeal crust flatbreads to fresh seafood and thick steaks. Linwoods doesn’t claim to be a steakhouse, although every steak that flew out of the kitchen did look wonderful. We wanted to sample some of the items we were considering for our event, so we settled on the autumn salad and Pugliese flatbread. Not sure if we wanted to get entrees, we hoped the salad and pizza would impress – and they did. The autumn salad featured roasted carrots and baby tomatoes in a caraway salt mixture, which was then served with bib lettuce, torn croutons, a rustic dressing and finally topped with crispy goat cheese balls. The salad was so simple yet the flavors and ingredients popped – a wonderful revitalizing opener for our palettes.
The flatbread was also very tasty. The cornmeal crust becomes almost cracker-like in the oven, which features a blend of fontina, asiago, and romano cheeses then topped with caramelized onions. The pizza itself wasn’t greasy, and relatively light considering the rich cheeses and sweet onions.
Again upon recommendation, we settled on the tuna “fiorentina” – a seared tuna entrée with grilled asparagus and pearl onions. The entrée didn’t sound amazing when we ordered it, but both the associate we met with and our server recommended it. Since we were sharing the entrée, Linwoods cleverly split the entrée and served it on two separate plates – an appreciated gesture. The sashimi grade tuna was rubbed with chopped rosemary, coarse salt and pepper before being seared on all sides.
The tuna was served thickly sliced over some nicely charred asparagus and roasted pearl onions, then drizzled with balsamic. I was pleasantly shocked at how well the rosemary and tuna went together, it was bold yet not overpowering to the delicate and perfectly cooked tuna. The onions and asparagus were nice accompaniments; however I would have liked a sauce that was a bit more intricate than balsamic. But it didn’t matter, the dish was very delicious.
After being thoroughly pleased by the meal, we couldn’t overlook dessert, for which we decided on the chocolate bread pudding with coffee ice cream. The bread pudding was still warm and perfectly fluffy. As the coffee ice cream melted on the bread pudding, we couldn’t consume the delicious mixture fast enough.
I must say, Linwoods was impressive. The menu isn’t as intricate or modern as a harbor east restaurant, but it doesn’t need to be. Linwoods has created a formula, which clearly works. Although the restaurant has been in business for twenty-five years, the restaurant is in immaculate condition with décor that has kept up with the times. Do yourself a favor and spend an evening at Linwoods. The prices of entrees dictate that this restaurant will be reserved for special occasions – for most. However, appetizers (or flatbreads) and cocktails will be manageable for almost any budget, and still very delicious.
In closing, thank you Linwoods for restoring my faith in Baltimore County fine dining.