Sly Horse Tavern is a cozy, welcome surprise that impresses with its traditional fare and Colonial flair in the quaint surroundings of a wooded area in Crofton, Md.
Tucked away in the Village Green area just off of Route 3, the tavern is known for its meat and seafood offerings and the Horse Sheet an ever-changing list of daily food and beverage specials.
After finding the small Sly Horse sign, follow the brick sidewalk to the entrance. In the winter months, a fireplace quickly puts you in a comfortable mood.
We began our culinary weeknight adventure with one of the specials, smoked mackerel ($8.50). The mackerel was firm and flavorful meatier than most smoked fish offerings and was served with red onion and dill with a horseradish cream sauce.
The only suggestion we would have for chef Peter McDonough is a little more horseradish and the addition of capers. The appetizer was excellent with the selection of crackers provided.
The Sly Horse is known for its Texas barbecued shrimp. We'll be sure to try that next time. There's also bruschetta pomodoro or sauteed mozzarella and prosciutto "Occidental."
The restaurant's hearty soups will surely warm you up on a wintry day. Cream of crab, lobster bisque and Southwestern turkey chowder were available.
The house salads, served with a red wine vinaigrette with Parmesan cheese, were prepared tableside and nicely seasoned. A fine prelude to the main event.
I ordered the stuffed rainbow trout ($21). The trout was generous in size, exceptionally flaky and sweet and was complemented with just the right portion of rich crab imperial.
My wife's main course was one of the specials: grilled filet mignon medallions served with a red wine and blue cheese demi-glace ($23.95). The beef was a perfect medium-rare, and the sauce was robust, ideal for the meat with just the right touch of bleu cheese.
The main courses were served with rustic mashed potatoes and a green and yellow squash saute. Both were nicely seasoned, a welcome change from the usual side dishes too often encountered in restaurants.
The catch-of-the-day was a pan-roasted grouper served with artichokes and black olives in a roasted red pepper sauce. A veal offering was the scaloppine with crisp bacon, and mixed wild greens in a vermouth cream sauce.
Grilled meats on the menu include a large porterhouse pork chop, New York strip or a T-bone steak. The sauteed calf's liver is served with sauteed onions, bacon and Burgundy.
Homemade apple pie was on the list of the Horse Sheet's special desserts, but unfortunately, it was so homemade it was still in the oven. We decided on one of the regular offerings, mile-high chocolate pie ($6.50), which was an oversized mound or mount of chocolate chip ice cream in a cookie crust, covered with whipped cream and hot fudge. It certainly satisfied our sweet tooth.
Other dessert offerings included Key lime pie and chocolate mousse.
Sly Horse Tavern made its debut in 1985. Prior to that the building was known as the Village Green Tavern, a local watering hole that offered little in the way of food. New ownership introduced a lunch and dinner menu and, according to owner Don Dey Ermand, used Williamsburg's Raleigh Tavern as a model for the Sly Horse.
Banquet facilities are available on the second floor for meetings, receptions and dinners.
Mr. Ermand has had some interesting visitors through the years. On the eve of President Bush's inauguration in January 2001, Mr. Bush's classmates from Phillips Academy, also known as Andover, gathered at the Sly Horse for dinner and celebratory drinks.
Last year, the owner had a visit from the folks at the Food Network, who taped a piece for their "Best of … " series.
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