- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Just east of the Naval Academy Bridge, the Severn Inn’s site on the river is one of a kind. Annapolis is surrounded by water, but it is challenging to find a restaurant that is truly waterfront. Severn Inn is one of them and offers a view not to be missed.

Across the river is the academy and its chapel dome as well as the Maryland State House dome and other landmarks that make up the city’s skyline.

The menu of Severn Inn’s executive chef, Philip Sokolowski, is a list of land and sea offerings. An extensive raw bar touts oysters, shrimp, tuna and lobster plus a jumbo lump-crab salad with avocado. A daily specials sheet contains three or four appetizers and several main courses that change frequently.

Cream of roasted duck soup ($6) was wonderfully rich, with a lot of depth and flavor. Tender tidbits of duck and caramelized Vidalia onions added body to the soup and gave the rich broth its earthy flavor.

Grilled poblano chili-marinated shrimp are served with a roasted corn salad, red chili paint, blue agave syrup and cilantro-lime aioli. Or try comforting Spanish-style lobster cassoulet and jumbo lump-crab mac and cheese.

Main specials of the evening were the caramelized sesame-crusted sea scallops ($28) with a roasted red pepper vinaigrette, wasabi mashed potatoes and crispy fried spinach. The six scallops were cooked perfectly and served piping hot. The dish would have been a delight had it not been for the tepid potatoes (although they were good at room temperature).

This seems to be following me around. The past three dining establishments I have reviewed seemed to plate the vegetable long before the seafood or meat portion of the dish was done. Why is this difficult?

A nice cut of grilled Atlantic salmon ($26) was plated with artichoke tapenade, garlic-roasted Red Bliss potatoes, sauteed tiny green beans and roasted tomatoes. The salmon was lightly seasoned, allowing the flavor of the fish to shine through. Unfortunately, the thinner ends were slightly dry. The tapenade had a bold, bright flavor, rich with artichokes, garlic and vinegar, and was a great contrast for the fish. The potatoes and green beans were both expertly prepared, but the standout was the side of roasted tomatoes - tender and bursting with rich, intensified tomato flavor. So welcome in the winter months.

Pork loin ($24) was a unique offering with its accompaniment of black-pepper spaetzle (tender yet firm and not doughy) and creamed spinach. The pork had just enough of a crust to add contrast to the tender, succulent meat. A light gravy was nice, but not needed. “Creamed” spinach was so light, it challenged the description, but the light sauce was fine.

The inn offers a unique roasted-game meatloaf: buffalo, venison and kangaroo.

As for desserts, carrot cake with cream cheese panna cotta ($8) was a blissful dessert that offered all the beloved flavors of the original but took it to a higher level. Two slices of the darkest, richest carrot cake melted in your mouth. Instead of the traditional cream cheese frosting, the panna cotta offered a smoother and creamier finish while providing the wonderful flavors of vanilla and cream cheese. So elegant, yet so comforting.

Chocolate ganache cake ($8) was rich and chocolately but a fairly common offering for most dessert menus. The dense cake was flavorful but a little dry.

Other options included a tempting-looking warm apple crisp with cinnamon ice cream.

Artisan cheeses can be enjoyed as an appetizer or after the main course. Options included Fiscalini Bandage-Wrapped Aged Cheddar, Cypress Grove Humbolt Fog, Firefly Farms Merry Goat Round, Vella Cheese’s Dry Jack, and Rogue Creamery Crater Lake Blue Cheese. The flavors range from light and creamy to nutty to bold and blue.

Severn Inn: 1993 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd., Annapolis; 410/349-4000; www.severninn.com

HOURS: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily; dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Sunday buffet brunch 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

PRICES: Soups and salads $6 to $14; appetizers $12 to $17.95; raw bar $8.95 to $18; dinner entrees $22 to $39.95; desserts $8

CREDIT CARDS: All major cards

PARKING: On site

ACCESS: Wheelchair accessible

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