Restaurant Review: Old World Tradition Continues at Four Seasons Grille in Gambrills
Nov 06, 2015 09:00AM ● Published by Cate Reynolds
Four Seasons Grille
The Village at Waugh Chapel
2630 Chapel Lake Drive, Gambrills
410-451-5141 | 4seasonsgrille.com
The Four Seasons Grille turned out to be a perfect midway meeting spot for us, between Annapolis and my dining companion’s start from around the Washington, D.C. beltway. Known for pleasing eclectic customers with its abundant, lush food, we knew we would find whatever plain or fancy style of dish our appetites craved.
One of the first establishments in the bustling Village at Waugh Chapel, Four Seasons is part of a small, locally owned chain, The MONTE Restaurant Development Group, which now counts numerous locations in Annapolis, Gambrills, and Glen Burnie. You’ve probably heard of all: the very popular Annapolis Carpaccio Tuscan Kitchen and Wine Bar stands at the top of the group with a well-appointed, more upscale ambiance; Squisito Pizza and Pasta franchise (six locations) is just as it says; and the newest of casual Italian food, Meatballs Etc. in Glen Burnie. As true Italians, both owners Gennaro DiMeo and Lino DiMeo, came directly to the restaurant industry with roots of family-owned eateries in Italy.
In accordance with the welcoming salutation of Italy, we were greeted pronto and offered our choice of tables. The hostess, responsive to our request for a spot quiet enough to chat, pointed out the booths. Business was brisk, and we were pleased to be able to talk at our banquet location. Very attentive service impressed us as we were seated and again, the hostess checked in after we had eaten our entree. First, we were offered a beverage by our very friendly and knowledgeable server and humorous new friend, Molly. It appeared that, over-all, the wait staff is attentive without hovering. Molly asked our preference for red or white wine and suggested a William Hill chardonnay, which happens to be one of my dining companion’s current favorites, and later, she brought a sampling of a deep red...a considerate gesture.
The decor is fresh and stylish, with just-right lighting from huge overhead maroon drum shades, offset by complementary textiles, dark woods, and earthy stacked stone, with plenty of windows for natural lighting during the day. The deep rich tones were given a pop of color with cobalt blue glasses dotting each table and goldenrod cloth yellow napkins. If you do look up, undulating waves of ceiling panels help acoustically with noise. In the cooler months, tables surrounding the warm fireplace are prime seating.
Food at Four Seasons is touted as Mediterranean/American and we found many dishes lean Italian-American with a distinctive slant of “gussied up with liqueurs.” After drinks arrived, a basket of piping ciabatta style bread was promptly delivered. Paired with a much loved sauce: dipping oil laced with pesto seasoning and a small mound of dried tomato, it was interesting that a dollop of butter was perched on top for the dairy crowd.
The well-attended happy hour is great with its “loaded” appetizers. When a small group of us went there previously to indulge before a movie, we had enough food for dinner. This time we dove right into some of the menu’s touted seafood for our first course, ordering both mussels and an elaborate presentation of scallops in puff pastry. The mussels were very good! Petite Prince Edward Island gems came with a choice of one of four sauces: spicy marinara sauce, scampi sauce, spicy cream of crab, or au gratin style. We opted for the scampi and were impressed by the presentation: a large flat bowl with toasted rounds of bread for dipping. Although we felt the sauce could do with a lighter touch on the oil, it was flavorful. We agreed that we might favor the crab sauce next time—a novel twist on the usual mussels accompaniment. For our second appetizer, Scallops Napoleon, four large plump scallops were tucked beneath a flaky puffed crust, with a creamy sauce infused with Sambuca, which gave the generous dish quite a sweet note. Billed as an app, this creation could surely do double duty as an entree. It was ample and easy to share.
It was tough to choose our entree as the wide-ranging menu offered multiple temptations—from enticing starters, pizzas, burgers, and sandwiches, to entrees of seafood, steak, Shepherd’s Pie, and even two unusual pork chop choices. A nice touch is the option to choose a small or large portion for most of the menu. The Stuffed French-Cut Pork Chop, housing a filling of caramelized cinnamon pears and gorgonzola, wrapped with prosciutto, then topped by a brandy cream sauce, almost had us, but, instead, I went for a stuffed Filet Mignon since it came so highly recommended. A large melted center of pungent gorgonzola cheese was surrounded by the medium-rare filet (as ordered). That, in turn, was swathed with a thick crisp slice of prosciutto. Brandy cream sauce was a smooth velvet finish; an excellent dripping on each forkful. My friend couldn’t resist trying a dish that’s too complex to make at home: Paella Valenciana. Shrimp, mussels, clams, sausage, boneless chicken chunks, roasted peppers, “still-green” peas, were all embedded in Spanish saffron rice with visible saffron threads—a nice touch! The menu states the paella sauce is Trebbiano white wine. As with the mussels sauce, the olive oil was heavier than need be. As a note, there is also a Butcher’s Paella for meat lovers with the seafood traded for mignon tips and finished with Parmesan cheese.
The decision for a sweet finish was difficult as the unique dessert menu offered dessert drinks as well as cakes, cannoli, and a Napoleon. Molly told us Limoncello torte, filled with Limoncello-infused Chantilly cream is a house favorite, but for me, the liqueur is often a bit on the overly sweet side. We decided to share the Toasted Almond Cake. With a lovely presentation, the nicely dense sponge cake was soaked in amaretto syrup. Two cake layers sandwiched a divine puff of creamy mascarpone. Crushed amaretini cookies and almonds gave a nice neat garnish layer to the top. The zigzag of caramel on the plate was the first fork stop!
“Questo va bene!”
As a food writer, blogger, food stylist, photographer, Rita Calvert has partnered in writing cookbooks and developed product lines to showcase the inspiration, art and nourishment of food. She is a blogger, photographer and advisor for the food world. The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up! is her most recent book with co-author farmer, Michael Heller. After owning a successful restaurant in California, she has now been an Annapolis resident for close to 30 years.