Baldwin's Station

A quaint and charming restaurant in Sykesville, just across the border from Howard County into Carroll County, Baldwin's Station is set in an actual railroad station. There are tables outdoors on the patio as well as inside the one-story brick building. The menu changes seasonally and includes many options for the locavore with produce coming from Howard County farms. You can visit their website to peruse the entire menu online at

I had purchased a Living Social quite a while back, thinking that Baldwin's Station was very close to our home and a nice casual place to grab a burger. We had been there for lunch many years ago. But my memory of the place was decidedly skewed. This restaurant is not casual. Although they do have a bar, and a bar menu which includes burgers, my Living Social precluded ordering from anything but the dinner menu. Entrees on the dinner menu start at around $25 and meander up to about $37. Needless to say, we spent way more than the amount on my discount certificate. Will I ever learn???

No, probably not. I always jump on these deals, thinking I am getting a bargain. But the restaurant owners have figured out how to game the system. Although we may have saved $20 overall, we spent much more than that. Our total for the meal, after tax and tip, was close to $100. Hard to call that a bargain for 2 people.

But on to the food! We started with a cheese flight ($9) including gouda, cheddar, and gruyere. Although we did have a choice of which 3 cheeses we wanted, it would have been nice to know exactly where these cheeses came from, i.e. were they local? Grass-fed? French? British? I have no clue. The cheeses were pre-sliced and accompanied by dark brown pita chips (overcooked) plus fresh berries, pistachios, and dried cranberries. Mr. Balancing Act is a gigantic cheese lover so this selection made him very happy.

Our entrees were delivered in a timely manner. I chose the rockfish topped with crab and sauteed spinach served over an asiago risotto. The entire dish was heavily salted. The rockfish was well cooked, though, and the chunks of crab were luscious. The risotto was very heavy, due to the asiago, and I ended up leaving most of this on my plate. Mr. Balancing Act chose the seafood linguini. This dish looked delicious, and was snarfed up so quickly that I didn't get a chance to taste a single bite!

The service overall was rather strange. When we first arrived, a waiter introduced himself as Alex and took our drink order. A minute or two later, a waitress swooped in to take our dinner order. I tried to explain about Alex, but she assured me that they "help each other out" here. As the meal progressed, various waitstaff would inquire as to our needs, repeating each other several times over. When I requested to take home half my uneaten dinner, the leftovers never arrived. I wondered if they were given to another woman by mistake. No one seemed to know for sure what was going on at each table.

If you are looking for a fancy dining experience with decent food, upscale prices, a lovely setting, and peculiar service, this restaurant should fit the bill nicely. Don't expect to bring home any doggie bags, though.