A Long History
Of Fine Dining
"After a good dinner
one can forgive anyone, even one's own relations," quipped Oscar
Wilde. That pithy remark brings to mind a restaurant that is often
the venue for many "special" occasions: birthdays, anniversaries,
engagements, seasonal holidays, including Valentine's Day, and
countless other romantic and emotionally-charged celebrations.
You may not call the occasion of your visit to Northwoods Restaurant
special, but you can always count on a fine meal and meticulous
service that is, most certainly, special.
Located on Melvin Avenue in West Annapolis, Northwoods is owned
by Russell and Leslie Brown. A series of restaurants has operated
in the location, formerly a private home just a block and a half
off Rowe Boulevard, among them Gi-An's Hibachi, Les Survivants
and, for the last 17 years, Northwoods.
You enter from the parking space on ground level and ascend a
short stairway to two adjoining dining rooms with stucco walls
that exude a soft glow. Wall-to-wall carpeting, tasteful window
treatments and white linen tablecloths with rose overlays absorb
noise and create a soothing atmosphere. Servers move quietly across
the floor and always seem to be there when you need them. Ours
was Ellen, who had a sixth sense about our wishes.
For an appetizer, my companion chose the gumbas ajella, a delicious
mélange of northern Norwegian shrimp complemented with tastes
of garlic, tomatoes, bay leaf, cilantro and white wine. I selected
a favorite appetizer, well known from previous visits to Northwoods,
the clams casino royale. Each succulent clam was nestled in its
own shell and topped with a well-cooked blanket of bacon. And
it was not the bacon that gave the dish its distinctive smokey
taste but the cooking process of the other ingredients. It's called
an original, and you'll have to try it to savor the elusive flavor.
With more than a dozen appetizers on the menu, the choice was
difficult and we were sorely tempted by the crabmeat Portofino
(back fin in a hearty spinach vinaigrette) and antipasti Northwoods
(the chef's selection---always a wise choice).
It's also wise to try the comforting warm herb bread made by Annapolis'
own Miss Nancy's Fancy Bakery.
The house salad truly glistened, the result of tall tossing and
high quality oil. Fresh and flavorful, it's appropriate to call
such a creative dish a "garden Caesar."
Pasta dishes are also distinguished at Northwoods. Highly recommended
is zuppa de pesce angelico---shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels
and fish steamed with herbs, tomatoes and white wine broth and
served on angel hair pasta.
We each selected one of the specials of the evening. The choice
of my ally in food was the broiled salmon, delicate and moist,
served on a bed of julienned and cooked vegetables. Mine was the
scallopini veal, sinfully tender and sautéed, accompanied by red
pepper, tomatoes and crunchy seasonal vegetables in a delicate
wine sauce. Another favorite among Northwoods diners is the Northwoods
connection, a charbroiled petite filet mignon, veal scallopini
and Gulf shrimp with béarnaise and rosemary cabernet sauce. Or
who can resist the seafood Rockefeller of Gulf shrimp, sea scallops,
mussels and crabmeat in tarragon Pernod cream sauce, served on
a bed of spinach and glazed with Swiss cheese?
Dessert buffs are rewarded with the much-heralded zabaglione and
zuppa Inglese, both well-known Northwoods signatures. The crème
caramel and chocolate mousse are also favorites. And then there's
the ambrosial dessert cart of cakes and pastries.
Northwoods offers an extensive selection of wines from throughout
the world. Ask for references. We were happy with a California
favorite, Kendall Jackson chardonnay.
Although not exclusive to Northwoods, the prix fixe meal (for
$29.95) has remained a staple over the years. The diner receives
a choice between any appetizer or soup, the house salad, any entrée
including specials, and any dessert. The price fixed meal is available
every evening except Saturday.
Northwoods is open only for dinner seven days a week. Holiday
dinners can begin earlier than usual. Do call for hours. Reservations
are always recommended.
Owner and chef Russell Brown trained at the Culinary Institute
in Hyde Park, N.Y., and not long after found his way to the Maryland
Inn where he spent seven years. Seventeen years ago, he and colleague
Gonzalo Fernandez opened Northwoods, a name imported from Colorado.
Ten years ago, Gonzalo moved on and Leslie Brown became the co-proprietor.
When queried about his mission for the restaurant, Russell says,
"We serve quality food with attentive service. The diner receives
great value in a pleasant atmosphere." Northwoods displays several
framed awards which attest to this achievement, as does the vast
testimony from local and far-afield diners. Northwoods is a haven
for exquisite food elegantly served in a harmonious setting.