Friday, February 29, 2008

Greystone Grill joins a list of new restaurants sprouting up along Annapolis’ thriving West Street.

The grill is in the new Severn Bank building at Westgate Circle across from the new Park Place. Besides restaurants, this area of West Street is booming with a new hotel, businesses and high-end condominiums. A little farther out is where the new town center is being built.

The Annapolis Greystone Grill is one of four in Maryland — the others are in Rockville, Ellicott City and Hunt Valley. Its main dining room is open and contemporary, and there is a beautiful lounge at the entrance of the restaurant. Nestled in the back of the house is a room for private parties.

An extensive wine list contains labels from all corners of the world, and many of the offerings are available by the glass.

The blue crab and roasted corn soup ($7.50) lives up to the medal it won at the 2006 Maryland Seafood Festival. Smooth and velvety, this cream version was chock-full of crabmeat, corn and spice.

The Greystone salad ($8) is crisp greens, candied cashews and crumbled Maytag blue cheese tossed with a raspberry vinaigrette. Similar salads can be found at many restaurants, but this was an excellent creation. The greens were tender and tempting, with just enough bitter leaves to provide contrast. The vinaigrette had a nice flavor, with enough sweetness to balance the tang of the blue cheese, in chunks to savor, not overpower.

Greystone skewers ($9.50) are medallions of beef marinated, grilled and drizzled with peanut sauce. Because of the thin cut of the beef, there were some crispy parts and some more tender parts. The meat did not hold up well on its own to the heavy teriyaki flavor of the marinade, but the peanut sauce redeemed the dish.

A warning about the main plates: the portions are enormous.

Steak lovers have a choice of five cuts: 8- and 12-ounce filets, 16-ounce New York strip, 20-ounce cowboy rib-eye and the Greystone flatiron. All meats are char-grilled at 1,800 degrees and can be topped with steak butter upon request.

The filet mignon napoleon ($28) is beef medallions layered with roasted potatoes, onions, spinach and mushrooms, finished with a port-wine demi-glace. While layering can give the chef a chance to skimp on the main ingredient, there was no shortage of filet in this dish, which was very tender and cooked to order. The spinach was sauteed nicely and provided a fresh bite to contrast with the meat. The sauce was just enough to complement rather than cover the flavors.

Baby back ribs ($25), a full rack of barbecued ribs, were supertender and easily pulled from the bone. Tangy sauce and spices made for a finger-licking-good experience. The side was a baked Idaho potato. “Everything” on the potato means butter, sour cream, chives, bacon and cheese, a meal in itself.

Beef ribs are caramelized with molasses and spicy brown mustard.

Pecan-crusted tilapia ($23.50) is twin fillets, pan-seared and finished with a peach-mango-mint chutney. The fish was flaky and flavorful, with a few larger pieces of nut providing a nice crunch now and then. The chutney was sweet and fruity, then hit with just a tiny burst of spice.

Shrimp and champagne cream is large shrimp sauteed with mushrooms, shallots and chopped tomatoes splashed with champagne and a light cream sauce served over linguini.

All main courses come with one side dish.

The molten chocolate lava bomba is plenty tempting; the rich chocolate souffle with warm silken chocolate ganache is topped with vanilla ice cream and raspberry coulis. Order the souffle early to avoid a 20-minute wait.

Cashew-crusted homemade bread pudding and apple crumb cobbler sounded comforting on a cold winter night, but the fresh berry napoleon ($10) filled the bill for something lighter. Light it was; ordinary it wasn’t. Plump strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are tossed with turbinado sugar (made without any chemicals) and layered with fresh cream and cookie crisps. The whipped cream was light, the berries full of flavor.

RESTAURANT: Greystone Grill, 200 Westgate Circle, Annapolis; 410/349-5052;

HOURS: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, until 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and until 9 p.m. Sunday

RESERVATIONS: Accepted for lunch and dinner

PRICES: Soups and salads $6.75 to $14; appetizers $9.50 to $11.50; sandwiches $9.50 to $14; entrees $17 to $35; additional sides $4.50

CREDIT CARDS: All major cards

PARKING: On-site garage

ACCESS: Wheelchair accessible

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