Reservations were made for five o'clock for our party of four for Thanksgiving at Baldwin's Station, Sykesville, Maryland. The historical significance is that the restaurant occupies what once was the train station of this community about twenty seven miles west of downtown Baltimore. The trains still run past, but haven’t stopped here for a long time.
It is not a large place, as buildings didn’t need to be in the 19th century, but has a full bar at the entrance. We had ample time to take in the historic ambiance of this area since seating in the dining room did not take place until about forty minutes past our five o’clock reservation. Although totally swamped, the single bartender was most efficient and worthy of her task at hand.
This was our very first Thanksgiving holiday outside the home or family environs and we were primed for an above average experience.
Given the historic nature of the building I was quite taken back with the lighting of the main dining room. Have you heard the term “deer in the headlights”? That’s what we felt like having all the lighting provided by what appeared to be spotlights from the high center of the raised ceiling, almost giving an ominous glare to all it took in.
Our server, as well as all of the staff, was extremely courteous and informed and added positively to the experience. Our experimenter in the foursome decided to try the Fried Chicken Terrine, savory herb waffle, braised kale, raspberry coulis appetizer while some of us had only the House Mesclun Salad. It was obvious immediately that this appetizer was actually a small plate. The chicken was quite moist, having been chopped and formed, and shaped like a brick. The salads indeed were field greens, but had very little of the prescribed accompaniment. They had an oil based and minimally flavored vinaigrette dressing.
Having passed on lunch in great expectations, three of us chose the top selection from the shortened holiday menu. It was listed as a Beef Tenderloin Stuffed with Lobster, "lobster knuckle and claw meat”. The last member of our party selected Pumpkin Ravioli. I tend to avoid preparing the tenderloin at home as restaurants with their flare for sauces or bacon wrapped aptly deal with a very tender and low fat cut of beef. Picture a two to three inch high and half inch thick slice of the large end of tenderloin that is wrapped around the pocket of lobster stuffing. And then imagine preparing it to an even doneness such as medium rare. Quite a challenge and not one that was fully mastered, more of a strategical failure than performance, especially with the limited lobster portion enclosed. Although deliciously sauced and flavored it missed the expectation for the price point..
Our lone ravioli diner thought her dish overbuttered. But that may have been relative as others sampling it found it acceptable. Although appropriate given the time of year, the dish was not one I would order given the combination of pumpkin and ravioli.
Holidays are sometimes hit or miss for the restaurant industry. We selected this particular place because of some good reviews and hoped for ambiance in the country location. It does have a fine kitchen that may have been a bit pushed given the crowd served this holiday. But for a more reasonable price we will settle for someplace closer to home next time without the “historic” effect and expectations to match the price level.