Elkridge Furnace Inn

We finally tried the Elkridge Furnace Inn for the very first time about a week ago. I had purchased a Groupon to use there and had ALMOST allowed it to expire. (Imagine!) Neither one of us was particularly psyched about eating out in a restaurant after having so many meals out in Florida. But duty called and we answered the call.

The location is a bit difficult to find if it is your first visit. You would never believe such a lovely, stately, and elegant place could be hidden back there behind the seemingly industrial old Main Street in Elkridge, just off Route One and very close to I-95 and 695. Our trusty GPS guided us well and we managed to park in the farthest corner due to a very crowded lot and a wedding going on out back.

If you take a look at their website, you might be fooled (as I was) into thinking they have outdoor seating. The day was absolutely lovely, and I was hoping for a table in the shade, but the large tent out back is for weddings and catered events only. The indoor rooms, in contrast, are rather small and stuffy. You will have the feeling you are eating dinner in your great grandmother's parlor.

Despite my pre-purchase of a Groupon ($25 for $50 worth of dinner items) our evening did not turn out to be a bargain. It would be just about impossible for two people to only spend $50 on dinner here. Entrees begin at about $25 (not many at this price, either) and range upwards toward $40. Once you add appetizers, beverages, and dessert, we are talking easily over $100 for a dinner for two. I limited myself to one glass of wine (prices per glass begin at $8; bottles begin at about $30) but Mr. Balancing Act decided to go whole hog with a bowl of soup AND a dessert.

Our meal began with a tiny amuse-bouche: a plastic spoonful of crab salad topped with citrus aioli. Just one tiny bite, but quite a delicious one. A bread basket appeared soon after, containing exactly 2 small rolls: one dotted with sesame seeds and the other studded with black olives. I snagged the little olive one, thinking it might be whole grain because I can no longer see anything without my reading glasses. It was dense and tasty. Although I didn't really want to eat a lot of bread, the idea of allowing each customer just one roll seems a bit chintzy for such an expensive restaurant, don't you think?

I chose the rabbit sausage (about $25) with baby vegetables for my entree. I haven't eaten rabbit since I attempted to cook a frozen one from the Pathmark Supermarket when I was 16 years old. (Dry as a bone. Not a speck of fat.) The sausage had a rather odd, grainy texture and a pronounced flavor of sage. Thin slices surrounded my small pile of vegetables, which included baby beets and turnips along with swiss chard. Unfortunately the tiny turnips were so undercooked I could not eat them. Strangely enough, the beets were tender. Typical for French cuisine, the portion size was not overly generous.

Mr. Balancing Act chose the ribeye steak (about $37) as his entree along with a Gouda sauce and mashed garlic potatoes. The steak was grilled perfectly, still very pinky red in the center. He loved this dish and enjoyed every morsel. Steak lovers can choose one sauce as well as one side dish to accompany their meat.

For dessert, Mr. Balancing Act selected a Key Lime Creme Brulee which came topped with a sliced strawberry and a small dollop of whipped cream. This was a delicious concoction, quite tart with the lime juice and not overly sweet. (I stole a taste!) Although I can usually be tempted into partaking of a sweet treat, there was nothing on the dessert tray that called to me.

The service at the Elkridge Furnace Inn is exactly what you might expect at a place like this: thorough and attentive. It is the kind of excellent service one deserves when paying the kind of prices found here. However, when we were in Florida, we dined at a restaurant on the water with white table clothes and very similar prices, but absolutely atrocious service. So we did not take our wonderful waiter for granted here!

If you are looking for an elegant, old fashioned place to take your mother when she is visiting, this could be the place. Especially if she is partial to traditional French fare or big steaks. For my taste, it was a bit too stuffy.