Two Tree Restaurant
Dec 08, 2010 08:48PM, Published by Anonymous, Categories: Eat+Drink+Shop
The town’s former mayor and longtime pharmacist, Dennis Hagar, owns the restau- rant. When an antiques shop that had occu- pied the space adjacent to his pharmacy closed, Hagar saw it as an opportunity to open a place he thought the residents of Millington deserved and would support: a restaurant that offered a wide variety of food along with the highest quality of service.
While searching for the right executive chef and resolving to not settle for a less- than-perfect fit, Hagar met Brian Carter, a former chef at the Granary Restaurant in Georgetown, Maryland. Carter agreed to come aboard, and it’s the latest chapter in a culinary career that began several years ago when he worked in the kitchen of a diner. His grass-roots culinary education instilled in him a work ethic that comes from working one’s way through the ranks and gaining knowledge from chefs he’s worked with along the way.
Hagar and Carter sat with us after we finished our meal, and we learned how seriously they take the restaurant’s role of helping to improve Millington’s economy. Most of Two Tree’s employees walk to work, and as much of the restaurant’s produce as possible is sourced from local farms. Hagar has taken great strides to make the dining room an inviting place for both locals and travelers to relax and enjoy a gourmet meal.
Upon entering the former antiques shop—which has been retrofitted into a contemporary establishment—we discovered a welcoming environment. The hostess seated us in a cheery dining room where the walls are painted in a warm yellow with white trim and wainscot- ing. The tables and chairs, in dark tones, provide a nice contrast; and ambient lighting complements the light jazz that emanates from hid- den speakers.
As Terrain, our waiter, came to the table to take our drink orders, the hostess brought a small plate of Melba toast topped with a pimento cheese spread and shaved Parmesan. Though Two Tree does not have a full bar, the beer and wine list includes domestic and imported beers along with a nice selection of value-priced wines, such as Red Truck Pinot Noir (California) and Ruffino Chardonnay (Italy), both of which cost $20 per bottle. In addition to a good selection of house wines available by the glass, wine lovers will find an expanded list available by the bottle.
With our spirits and moods warmed by our glasses of wine, we opted to order appetizers for the table. Presented first was a meats and cheese board ($8) that includ- ed Gouda, Gorgonzola, and aged cheddar, next to thinly sliced prosciutto and Smithfield ham. Pumpernickel bread, caramelized onions, and stone-ground mustard accompanied the platter to complement the meats and cheeses. We also select- ed one of the evening’s specials: thinly sliced, seared ahi tuna encrusted with sesame seeds, served with a creamy and surprisingly impactful wasabi sauce, and beautifully arranged on a bed of greens.
Throughout our meal, we couldn’t help but comment on how inspired the presentations were. At one point, Ted called it “adventuresome cook- ing.” Every dish was complex and pleasing to the eye; variations in texture, height, and color made all the plates multidimensional, injecting a sense of allure and surprise.
We were excited to see how our entrées would be presented. Marilyn ordered the chicken pesto ($16), a panko-crusted chicken breast with pesto béchamel, served over orzo that was tossed with sun-dried tomatoes, roasted shallots, and grilled endive. The chicken was delicious and moist, and the sun-dried tomatoes added interesting color and Christine chose a salad from the specials menu, which Terrain assured was a dinner-sized portion of grilled romaine and shrimp. Incorporated into the salad were bits of pancetta, halved grape tomatoes, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Christine commented that the salad was flavorful and fulfilling but was neither too big nor too rich.
Doug’s veal saltimbocca ($17) featured cutlets prepared with fresh sage, prosciutto, melted aged provolone, and vermouth demi-glace, accompanied by fingerling potatoes and grilled asparagus. He said the dish was perfectly executed.
Ted ordered one of the evening’s specials. An impressive culinary display, it was a whole red snapper topped with a perfectly complementary green salsa, and served with a white and wild rice timbale and julienned fresh vegetables.
Everything had been so wonderful up to this point that we couldn’t pass on the desserts, all of which are prepared fresh in the kitchen—even the ice cream (except for the vanilla). We could not resist trying the jalapeño mint ice cream, and it was a wonderful surprise: cool and refreshingly minty, and juxtaposed slightly with the zing of jalapeño. Christine ordered a delectable crêpe with mascarpone cheese and blueberries. Marilyn chose one of her favorite desserts—pecan pie—and was absolutely elated when she tasted the sweet treat served with homemade whipped cream. Ted chose simple-but-heavenly homemade< chocolate ice cream.
All of us enjoyed our experience at Two Tree Restaurant—from the exquisitely executed meals and welcoming conversation with Hagar and Carter, to our pleasant discovery of Millington. As we pulled out onto the highway, we all agreed that the restaurant warranted a return visit.
Doug O’Connor has 20+ years of experience as both an executive chef and a food and beverage director, and he’s also involved with the Chesapeake Chefs Association. He graduated from Johnson & Wales University with degrees in culinary arts and food service management. Christine graduated from Johnson & Wales with a degree in hospitality management. They currently reside in the Annapolis community of Cape St. Claire, along with their two children.
Two Tree Restaurant401 Cypress at Sassafras
Millington, MD 21651
|When to Enjoy: Sun.–Thurs.: 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Fri.–Sat.: 11 a.m.–9 p.m.
Expect to Pay: Appetizers: $6–9, Soups/Salads: $4–15, Lighter fare/Sandwiches: $5.50–15, Entrées: $16–28, Desserts: $7 (average)
Owner: Dennis Hager
Chef: Brian Carter