Amongst the rolling hills of northern Baltimore County, the heart of Maryland’s horse country sits the Manor Tavern. The “Tavern” as it is called to its regular patrons, started out as a stables back 1750, it is said that George Washington’s horse slept there. It has evolved from a dirt floor saloon with its latest, and greatest incarnation, a restaurant that embraces the American and regional bounty along with sustainable products from their garden. Local providers’ names; Verdant Valley Farm, Charlottetown Farm, Jarrettsville Creamery, Creekstone Farms, and Stone Mill Bakery dot their menus.
In recent years, The Manor Tavern was bought, a rebirth began, and the expansion and renovations continue. It was 2015 that The Manor Tavern brought on Executive Chef George Batlas, a seasoned pro, who has taken the tavern to new heights. For those regulars, certain dishes can’t come off the menu like their gumbo and the crab and turkey club; they are quite good – a couple of my favorites when I worked at the Manor Tavern. What is exciting are the new menu items, they intrigue me- their beer can chicken, a whole chicken roasted upright in their ovens, perched on a can of National Bohemian beer or their grilled cauliflower steak with lemon herb emulsion – perfect for the vegan in the family.
Chef Batlas has brought consistency to create outstanding dishes, both with flavor and eye appeal. On a recent visit, my host – the owners’ son, ordered a number of his favorite appetizers; the hot crab dip, crispy Brussel sprouts with a tangy white BBQ sauce and my new favorite, the fried green tomato Oscar – crunchy fried green tomatoes topped with jumbo lump crabmeat, asparagus tips and Sombronkey mustard sauce. The Bourbon Street gumbo couldn’t be skipped, a small cup for moi.
Honestly, we were full from the appetizers, but the troopers that we were, ordered entrees: the marinated rack of lamb with the sweet potato and Brie gratin in a cranberry reduction and I went with the Verdant Valley cider brined pork chop. Both plates were beautifully presented – the lamb perfectly pink and my thick center cut pork chop had just the right balance of flavor of the cider brining, prepared medium with a light rosy hue in the center and brighten with pistachio chutney and pomegranate jus.
There is a good selection of burgers and sandwiches like the Berkshire Burger; ground pork, habenero jack cheese, caramelized Cipollini onion jam, arugula with a root beer-BBQ sauce on a toasted pretzel roll or their classic Manor burger of Black Angus beef with sharp cheddar, Swiss and Applewood smoked bacon.
Dessert, well I was sent home with a slice of their Blondie and Dagwood cake, which was 3 layers of different cakes: the bottom layer – blondie brownie with white chocolate chips, the middle – a chocolate brownie and the top – a New York cheesecake. It doesn’t stop there, in between the layers –raspberry cream cheese icing and the whole exterior was iced with peanut butter icing. Carm, is the in house pastry person and she has been making the legendary desserts at the Manor Tavern for over 40 years. The flavors of the Dagwood cake change regularly – always a surprise of flavor and texture combinations.
Spring is always amazing at the “Tavern”: Easter brunch, the horse races, and the April oyster festival. I would be remiss not to talk about their banquet and catering programs – they are authorized caterers for some of the more exclusive sites in Baltimore and Harford County.
As for the not too, too far away, The Manor Tavern isn’t too far away – a straight jaunt up 83 will probably have you there in 30 minutes no longer and possibly less time it takes to go to Canton from the suburbs. Make an afternoon, have lunch ladies and go to enjoy Ladew Gardens that is a short jaunt.
The Manor Tavern – 15819 Old York Road – Monkton, MD 21111 410.771.8155 www.themanortavern.com Twitter @themanortavern Facebook