- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The Four Seasons Grille is a new addition to the growing hotbed of western Anne Arundel County restaurants that are attracting true food groupies — diners who in the past had to travel to Washington or Baltimore to get their food fix.

Located in the Village at Waugh Chapel in Gambrills, Md., the recently opened restaurant is in the spot previously occupied by an Italian market.

New owners completely redesigned the interior to give it more of a warm, cozy feel.

Four Seasons should be classified as a family restaurant, yet it also is elegant enough for a romantic date or other special occasion.

The interior of the dining room is contemporary, with oranges, yellows, blues and browns (colors of all four seasons) dominating the walls.

The nice-size, comfortable bar area has two large flat-screen televisions adjacent to the dining area.

The menu touts an eclectic fusion of Mediterranean and American cuisine. A warm, round crusty loaf of bread along with whipped and pesto butters is delivered to the table moments after arrival. The wine list is two pages long and offers some good values by the glass, half carafe or bottle.

Salads range from simple to over the top. The steak salad is grilled beef with a quarter wedge of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and smoked Gouda cheese, all topped with warm Gorgonzola dressing.

The Mediterranean salad is greens with Roma tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, olives and pepperoncini topped with feta cheese and balsamic dressing.

The crab-cake salad is two jumbo lump cakes accompanied by a micro salad with hearts of palm and lemon-lime vinaigrette.

Among the 12 appetizers, the Four Seasons shrimp ($9.49) is a half-dozen crispy seasoned shrimp tossed in a spicy cream-of-crab sauce and served atop zucchini carpaccio.

Shrimp really was not on our minds until this was recommended by the waitress, and we all were glad we followed her suggestion. The shrimp were sweet and tender, with just enough batter to provide crunch. The sauce was a standout — with just enough kick to complement and not overpower the shrimp. The cool zucchini provided a crisp contrast as well.

Goat-cheese brulee is a blend of cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic and pine nuts encompassed by a caramelized Parmesan crust circled by crispy pita chips and drizzled with balsamic glaze.

Grilled calamari is marinated squid grilled and served surrounding a potato tower adorned with capers, chickpeas and olives and drizzled with a lemon aioli.

The main plates are an even balance between land and sea.

Stuffed veal chop ($23.99) is a chop stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese, wrapped with prosciutto and baked with a Lombardo Marsala wine glaze. The Gorgonzola was rich, tangy and melted to perfection, which added to the appeal of the dish. The saltiness of the prosciutto added another layer to the chop.

Many of the entrees are served with the chef’s choice of vegetables and potatoes. This evening, the chef offered potato wedges and a saute of zucchini, yellow squash and carrots. Not your usual squash side dish, these veggies were bursting with the flavor and sweetness they too often miss.

The New York steak is 12 ounces of Angus beef chargrilled at 1,800 degrees. Lamb ragu pappardelle is a tomato-based stew of slowly cooked, pulled lamb tossed with extra-wide egg pasta and topped with shaved pecorino Romano.

Paella Valenciana ($17.99) combines shrimp, mussels, clams, chorizo sausage, chicken, red roasted peppers and peas in a white wine sauce with saffron rice. Paella is either good or bad — there is no middle ground.

This version did not disappoint, although it is not in the true Valencian style in which meats are not mixed with seafood. The chicken was tender, the chorizo nicely spiced but not overpowering, the shellfish plump and flavorful. The rice was wonderfully rich and not overcooked.

Yellowfin tuna ($18.99) is seasoned and seared medium rare and then topped with a Mediterranean relish and finished with feta crumbles. The tuna was tasty, although overcooked. The relish was a standout, with tart olives and capers harmonizing nicely with the feta.

Side dishes, enough to serve two, also are available.

Desserts are small, like a sweet little nightcap after a great meal. The tiramisu and creme brulee are made in-house; the cheesecake is another tasty option.

The family-run restaurant is affiliated with Cafe Mezzanotte in Severna Park, Md., and Domenicas (formerly La Mona Lisa) in Annapolis.

RESTAURANT: Four Seasons Grille, Village of Waugh Chapel, 2630 Chapel Lake Drive, Gambrills, Md.; 410/451-5141

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

PRICES: Soups and salads, $4.49 to $14.99; appetizers, $7.99 to $10.99; sandwiches, $7.49 to $7.99 (lunch only); dinner entrees, $11.99 to $26.99; sides, $4 to $7; desserts, $4.49 to $4.99

RESERVATIONS: Available for parties of five or more.

CREDIT CARDS: All major cards

PARKING: On-site

ACCESS: Wheelchair accessible

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