After talking about going to John Bentley's for months and months, we finally ate there this past weekend. Located in an old firehouse, the restaurant is quite charming. The front dining room isn't very large. The focal point of the space is the rather modern fireplace that I really liked (you know, the whole juxtaposition between old and new thing). We were seated in the outdoor-ish dining room. I think it's technically a porch, but it totally doesn't feel like it because of all the enclosures and heat and comfy banquette seating that they have going on back there.
To start, I had one of the evening's specials: figs stuffed with blue cheese, served with greens and crostini. I could have done with a little less cheese in my figs, but it was fine (I spread some of the excess on the bread). Jon had the Dungeness crab cakes, which were tasty, but hardly special in my book. (Note: Maybe I've just never had outstanding crab cakes -- even in Baltimore -- so I don't know when it's really impressive and when it's not.)
For my main course, I enjoyed another special: halibut served over wild rice with green beans in a delicous beurre blanc. Loved it. The fish was so tender and flaky. Jon ordered the roast rack of lamb with scalloped parsnips and a grain mustard sauce. Parsnips! What a nice change from the usual potatoes. Very very good.
Finally, for dessert, I went with the panna cotta with strawberry and mango sauce, while Jon chose the apple tart with (some flavor I can't remember) ice cream. His was better, hands down. The tart was fairly large in diameter, but it was also pretty flat. There was just a thin layer of sliced apples in the puff pastry shell. Excellent. My panna cotta was a little too soft for my taste; sure, I like it creamy, but firmer (more gelatin, please!).
All in all -- food, service, ambiance -- it was a good meal, but nothing spectacular. For the most part, the dishes seemed fairly safe.
Although I'm glad we finally tried it, I think the next time we feel like spending $150 on dinner, we might have to drive right past John Bentley's and over to Village Pub instead.
2991 Woodside Road