Issue: March 2007
GALLEYS ASHORE: Room with a View

The Severn Inn provides upscale dining with an upscale view of the Severn River and Annapolis.

Ah, a get-together with the girls. Three of my good friends were on their way into town, and as host, I needed to show off Annapolis. Thankfully the weather cooperated, and during the warmest January day I could imagine, the four of us trekked through downtown Annapolis, dodging tourists and reveling in the 70 degree "winter" weather. But after an afternoon of
battling crowds, we were in need of a quiet place for dinner. I had seen the Severn Inn from the water, and while passing over the Route 450 bridge, but had never made it there for dinner. And since it was off the beaten path, I suspected we could get a table.

When we arrived at 8 p.m. we passed through the chic but inviting bar area to the dining room, where only a few tables were filled, leaving us with a quiet place to talk and enjoy the sweeping views of the Severn River, the Naval Academy and the Annapolis skyline. It was beautiful. White tablecloths and single small lamps adorned each table, and large black-and-white photographs of Chesapeake Bay scenery lined the wall opposite the windows with the view. It was very chic and upscale, but still welcoming. While the four of us were wearing jeans, the couple next to us was wearing a suit and evening dress--yet we didn't feel out of place in the restaurant, nor did our neighbors seem overdressed.

Our waitress, Nicole, arrived promptly and asked if we'd like sparkling, still or tap water while we looked over the wine list. Surprised and intrigued, we ordered sparkling water (only to find out later that it cost seven dollars a bottle . . . ouch!). The wine list was long and varied in selection as well as price; we chose a medium bodied flavorful Italian pinot grigio.

Next came the appetizers. We were pretty hungry after our afternoon of walking around busy downtown, so we chose two: fried polenta-crusted calamari and crab cocktail from the "raw bar" menu. The calamari was fantastic. The polenta made it crunchy, yet sweet, and the tomato butter it was served on was a great substitution for traditional marinara sauce. The crab cocktail, which had captivated my attention immediately, turned out to be uninteresting--just lumps of cold crabmeat served on top of tomato slices with a remoulade sauce. The crabmeat was very tasty, but didn't match with the remoulade well . . . we asked for cocktail sauce, which worked better.

When Nicole took our dinner order, she asked us if we would like soup or salad with our meals. I chose the Cajun crab bisque, which turned out great--slightly spicy, creamy and with lots of lump crabmeat. The others each had salads, which were all very fresh and tasty. (Frugal diners take note: the soup/salad option doesn't come with your entree, and they aren't cheap.)

For dinner, I chose the grilled blue-cheese-stuffed filet mignon. It came in a bath of port wine sauce, which proved too intense and sweet for my taste, but the steak and bits of tangy blue cheese inside were marvelous. As a side dish, I chose what Nicole called their signature side: crispy spinach. And it was just that. I'm not sure how they concocted it--leaves of baby spinach that were crunchy and salty just like a potato chip, but melted in your mouth to reveal the spinach flavor. Very interesting and delightful. My friend Kathy chose the grilled Atlantic salmon teriyaki--very nicely done and served with ginger-infused sweet potatoes that were out of this world. Cat opted for crabcakes, which were full of lump crabmeat, and rather than being held together with lots of filler, were kept intact during cooking with a muffin tin. Though untraditional, it definitely worked. Finally, Melissa chose the sauteed wild rockfish. It was very light and fluffy and quite good.

For dessert we picked the vanilla bean creme brulee, and on Nicole's recommendation, the coffee profiteroles. The creme brulee was yummy, but the profiteroles--in this case, chocolate coffee flavored puff pastries served with ice cream--didn't fit the bill. They lacked in flavor and were slightly mushy.

As we closed down the house and the waitstaff packed up the dining room around us, we took a final glance at the warmly lit view of Annapolis and the empty tables on the outdoor dining deck overlooking the Severn River and resolved to come back when warm weather brings us all together again.
--Ann Levelle

The Severn Inn is located at 1993 Baltimore/Annapolis Blvd., at the base of the Route 450/U.S. Naval Academy bridge. It is open daily year-round for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Free dockage is available at the restaurant for boats up to 65 feet and narrower than 9 1/2 feet. Plenty of outdoor seating is available. Lunch $9–$19; appetizers $8–$17; entrees $26–$42; Sunday brunch buffet $25.95. Major credit cards accepted. 410-349-4000;