Well, if this gets published today (31 August 2016) it will mark the 53rd year that MFO and I have been married! As I often say, where does that time go. Amazing..
On another note, I think I have mentioned that we are leaving for Cornwall on the 26th of September. Beginning to ramp up activity toward departing, like building lists of clothes, gear, restaurants, etc. Part of the usual build up is to refresh the Feeder’s wardrobe. So that engendered a trip up to Annapolis to help Nordstrom’s keep solvent. Over the years we have gotten to know the manager of “Men’s Furnishings” to the point where we let her know what I’m interested in, and then she gathers stuff and lays it out for us to see when we get there. Wouldn’t go so far as to say “personal shopper”, but it kind of works out that way. On our way there, we saw one of the burgeoning number of “food trucks” parked by the road near two and west street
So our usual agenda is to go to Nordstrom’s and then go have a civilized lunch at Harry Browne’s. I know we’re not top shelf people, but we do enjoy Nordstrom’s. It is such a nice place to shop. I kind of draw a mental parallel to “Selfridge” and the blossoming of personal service. So from the options displayed for us, we selected a few pairs of trousers, a couple of shirts, a tie or two. Some of the trousers required tailoring (too many lunches at Harry Browne’s), and she said they would ship them to us when they were done.. nice.
So after the red carpet treatment (in my own little demented mind) we got in the Momster and headed for historic Annapolis. Any of you who have been there for anything know that parking is a nightmare, especially with a land yacht such as the Momster. Instead of driving around looking for a vacant slot (which is about twenty five cents per fifteen minutes) we have taken to going to the parking garage on West Street, not far from the Ram’s Head and St. Anne’s church. Harry’s is located on State Circle that encloses the State House, so it is a bit of a hike from the garage to the restaurant. Unfortunately HB’s doesn’t offer valet parking during lunch, so we had to walk. Our route takes us past the Governor’s mansion and State House, and as we were just at the State House, men in suits came out flanking the good Governor. Surprisingly he didn’t stop and chat.
So we finally got to the restaurant (past their catering truck)
a little damp and bushed. There were a few diners (apparently mad dogs or Englishmen) eating outside and only a few (two) tables inside (was about 1:15 at this point). Once inside, it was cool, quiet, and shady and I requested one of the tables “at the back” that we enjoy and were given one of the two tables back there.
The other table was occupied by two women sharing dessert, and we couldn’t avoid overhearing conversations about “I’ll have the committee look into that, you contact so and so..” and other palaver which we read as political. Power stuff. Anyhow, after they left we were on our own to enjoy the atmosphere and the elegant chandeliers and ceiling
There is a story about the chandeliers, they came off of, or are replicas of ones on some famous vessel, but I can’t remember which one.
Before we go further, a little diversion into restaurant philosophy (at least according to the Feeder): When a place climbs near the top of whatever list, there are a few expectations. One of the reasons we return to HB’s is that we know we are going enjoy the ambiance, get great food, and enjoy the service. I know there are other excellent restaurants in Annapolis (Carroll’s Creek Café; Café Normandy; Vin 909; Level), but it’s the old “roll the dice or go where….” decision, and we generally opt for the “go where you know…”. Well this trip to HB’s contained the first little chink in my estimation of them. It was in the third of the holy trinity of food, setting, and service. See for example my 2014 experience, and I quote: server’s first words:
“I’ll bet you would like a drink”. No silliness, just that. Yes, why yes, I believe I would. Given the time of day and the sixty miles between us an home, I opted for wine. He said a complimentary glass of wine, champagne, or Mimosa came with each entrée order. I asked for a chardonnay, and MFO a Sauvignon Blanc. I asked if they were house wines. His reply was: “I think I can do a little better than that”. I ended up with a very nice glass of Talbott Kali Hart, and MFO’s a Ponga New Zealand. Upon delivery, he said I’ll let you wind down a little bit and left. No “are you ready to order?”, just a courteous departure
- the bottom feeder, August 2014
This time it was: “Good (sic) evening, I’m Wes, and ……of you”, at least there was no “you guys”. While I would expect this at a chain, I would hope not HB’s. I will admit the next phrase was if we would like something to drink. MFO selected from the little card with five dollar wines per glass (which are not bad) and I wanted to avoid any missteps (bad on my part) and a Gray Goose martini up with a twist.. Perhaps the walk in the heat in my DFD Blazer made me a bit edgy.
At any rate the lovely drink did appear with a healthy pour of a white Côtes du Rhône
And concurrent with drinks appearing, despite the fact the menus were untouched where Wes left them, he asked if we were ready to order. Chink two. No thanks, we would like to enjoy our drinks a bit first. He then related the specials (well, okay) and left. We did peruse the menu after a sipping for a while, and nothing leapt off the page. Heat and Burgers or Brisket Sandwiches don’t particularly tempt on a hot day, Spicy Sausage Panini? likewise. So upon Wes’s third request (and mindful we had miles to go) I decided on the omelet of the day (bacon and cheddar with sautéed peppers – nothing special) with a house salad and MFO got the: Annapolitan Flatbread: Crabmeat, Spinach, Caramelized Onions,Bacon, White Crab Sauce and Mozzarella Cheese.
The food was quite good, although my house salad was a bit soggy. We did split a dessert of a lemon curd cheese cake with two forks. It was quite good. Although what i assumed was a bread plate remained empty on the table from start to finish, we never did see any bread
We finally left, and I was disappointed that I was somewhat disappointed. For the first time, we were given a reason to be disappointed. Please don’t get me wrong, we certainly will go back but finding a little crack in what we always considered flawless was unsettling. Maybe the combination of the late lunch hour (we were the only occupants), and the heat. But, however, comma, we both were certainly