28 May 2007

Trapeze, Maple Lawn, Maryland

I always feel a little bit wierd blogging about a restaurant, since I don't know much.. but here we go. The last time Sideshow and I went out to dinner in the new development at Maple Lawn, we were pretty disappointed in our experience; however, as the other restaurant in the shopping center isn't affiliated with that one, there's no reason (except some odd pavlovian-type conditioning) to project a bad experience at one onto another. And a good thing, too, because dinner at Trapeze was really very pleasant.

I liked the open decor of the dining room, but I'd like to go back on a normal night (there was a wedding occupying the 'downstairs' which was the server's way of describing the other dining room and the bar. The crowd there was fairly loud, particularly when twenty or so (feeling the booze) led a conga line through the non-private dining area. I could have done without the screaming child, too, but that's what we got for dining at 5:45 (the only reservation available when I went to make them on Friday). But even with the large party, the service was excellent -- the server was attentive, she brought us bread without having to be asked ('ask and ye shall receive' is the policy of the restaurant, as stated on the menu), and the food came out quickly without auction.

Not in the drinking mood, I opted for water. Sideshow and I did share appetizers, though: he ordered up an Ahi tuna appetizer, while I got the Roasted Garlic Caesar Salad.

The Ahi Tuna appetizer, something I think is getting to be overdone at restaurants, was actually very nice. The plate was pretty (and appreciate the pictures, given the amount of attention Sideshow kept calling to my unusual dining habit. He's used to it. His family, not so much.), and the fish was so delicately sliced it came apart with the slightest pressure from my fork. It was paired with a rosy slice of pickled ginger, and a crisp pickled cucumber salad, along with a dressing that I imagine was wasabi, though it was subtle enough I didn't really notice, with or without. I loved the quick sear, nice and crisp on the outside, and cool on the inside. The caesar salad was a little disappointing. The romaine hearts were crunchy and nutty, but they hadn't dried the salad mix well at all, which led to a watery dressing and moist croutons. It didn't really have much of a taste until I added some pepperoncini someone didn't want from their Mediterranean salad. To be fair, it was light.. but I always think of Caesar dressing as just wrapping around the leaves, not dripping off.

The main course was Alaskan halibut, a fish I've had as sushi and sashimi but never cooked. It was amazing! The pan-sear gave it a nice crust on the outside which gave way to a light, tender, buttery inside that steamed when the filet fell apart. It was mounted on a small pile of lobster-whipped mashed potatoes (I couldn't tell any difference between those and the regular, except they were a mildly alarming shade of pink -- but I like lumps, so that was fine), and a pool of vegetables in a Pernod sauce puddled around the dish.

I had no idea what a Pernod sauce was. But it was pleasant. The vegetables made me think of spring.

Nowhere on the plate did I see the promised shaved fennel, but that's ok, there was plenty of food. I also got to sample the sesame-crusted ahi tuna entree (also delicious) and the crab cake that was part of a surf-and-turf type meal. I think the crab cake was the best part - mostly lump crab meat and very little filler, it was the size of a baseball. And there was a very distinctive spice, something like allspice though I'm not really sure, that I've never had in a crabcake before. My favorite.

Desert was beautiful -- a key lime pie type custard layered with sections of what tasted like a hazelnuts and cake crumbs, fresh blackberries and strawberries seeded throughout the glass and piled with blueberries and raspberries alongside a pillow of whipped cream and a fresh sprig of mint. A beautiful blue syrup (I forget what it was) was brushed brilliantly across the plate. Wonderful.

That's my (amateur) summary of Trapeze. Yum!


Anonymous said...

I believe the restaurant is now closed--perhaps another casualty of current economy. I too had a nice experience at the restaurant--though it was a little expensive. BTW, how do you afford such nice dining as a grad student? When I was a grad student/TA, it was pizza and burgers. Best wishes.

Mo said...

Special occasion dining, and very low rent at the time. :)