Owings Mills, MD

A Romantic Valentine's Day Dinner at Linwoods in Owings Mills, Maryland

Rachel Yerks

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Photo by Rachel Yerks

My boyfriend and I had the pleasure of going to Linwoods for Valentine's Day. As it is a fancier restaurant and an important dining holiday, we reserved our table online during the last week of January.

By the end of January, all the couple seatings between 6 PM and 8:30 PM were taken. We ended up booking a 5:30 PM seating. I highly doubt there were any reservations left by the second week in February, so if you want to book Linwoods for a holiday or even a special occasion, book in advance.

Service

When we arrived, our reservation was checked and we were seated immediately. We dressed nicely, myself in a dress and my boyfriend with a blazer and a tie, but we were still seated in the back of the restaurant. The back of the restaurant was noticeably younger couples, and the older folks were seated in the more visible section. We didn't mind; it was an observation.

The back of the restaurant is lovely, but you are farther away from where you can watch the chefs prepare the food in the open kitchen, so if that's something you're interested in watching, speak up or call to make your reservation with a seating request.

Once seated, our waitress was very kind and explained some of the specials to us. Linwoods had a special Valentine's Day menu printed out, and some of the options were only for the holiday.

My boyfriend was a bit upset to see that (from what he could tell) all the pasta dishes on the menu were served with seafood, which he doesn't eat. He wants to go back to have the pasta experience and is hopeful he will find a pasta dish without seafood on an ordinary day.

Throughout our meal, the water glasses were constantly refilled, nearly ten times over the course of an hour. We were given more bread upon request, and our dishes were cleared in a timely fashion between courses. We had zero complaints regarding the service.

Food

Dinner

We started our dining experience with two glasses of champagne, billed as "Louis Dumont", at $17 a glass. You have to have champagne at a romantic dinner, it's a must. The waitstaff will also encourage alcohol consumption as the alcohol menu boasted some bottle options costing over $400.

We obviously went with glasses instead of an expensive bottle, and champagne is one of the more affordable options. We aren't typically wine with dinner people, but Linwoods seemed like the place to indulge. The wine menu was gigantic; you'll have no trouble finding something delicious to drink if that's what you're looking for at a fancy dinner.

Before our entrées, we were each given a warm roll and an accompanying small dish of butter. As the fine-dining amateurs that we are, we each requested another roll and ate too much bread before dinner.

For dinner, I had the Shrimp and Scallops with Mussels ($45). It comes with shrimp, scallops, mussels, Linguine, garlic, white wine sauce, and Parmesan Reggiano. I have no complaints; it was delicious. The portion size was excellent too, but I still had some leftovers which reheated well.

The scallops and mussels really made the dish. The shrimp didn't really belong in my opinion, but they were still tasty. The white wine sauce was very light and the noodles weren't too heavy. (This entrée is still available if you want to try it yourself!)

My partner had the 6-ounce Beef Tenderloin ($48). It came with potato gratin, seasonal vegetables, and steak sauce. He said it was the best steak he's had in his life. I had a bite and it was delicious, but I would argue Ruth's Chris Steak House does steak better. Regardless, this was a very good and far more local option.

The potato gratin was also notable, by far the best either of us had ever tried. It was creamy and crunchy on top and was just a great pairing. You can head over to Linwoods and try this entrée at any time. It's worth it!

Dessert

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Photo by Rachel Yerks

Dessert let me down a bit. I ordered the chocolate bombe ($13). This item was a Valentine's Day special, so you can't get it anymore. I wouldn't recommend it. The mousse in the bomb was delicious, but they put some sort of raspberry/strawberry gelatin filling in the middle of the bomb, so you didn't get much mousse. It was a big letdown.

The gelatin was not good. It tasted artificial and ruined an otherwise tasty dessert. The pistachios were a bit weird texture-wise, but they did fit with the dessert. I was sad about this dessert, as the mousse inside the dome was amazing, but there wasn't much of it.

I also was surprised at the dessert presentation. If you're going to spend nearly $200 going to a fancy restaurant for a special occasion, cartoon misshapen sauce hearts on a dessert plate are a bit sloppy and out of place.

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Photo by Rachel Yerks

My boyfriend ordered far better for dessert and had a delicious pecan tart ($11). This is still on the menu and we highly recommend you try it. My boyfriend thought the pecans were a bit too large to eat, but they were very soft and the pie crust was perfect. The caramel sauce lining the plate matched wonderfully with the vanilla ice cream.

Again, I do think the presentation could have been a little neater as our dinners were flawless, but that's a preference.

Final Thoughts

We had a lovely dinner at Linwoods. The service was top-notch, and the dinner and drinks were excellent. The dessert struggled a bit but had some redeeming qualities. Our total came out to $161.08, a little over $190 with a 20% tip.

I am hesitant to mention this final tidbit, but I'd be remiss to not mention it as it contributed to our overall experience and it happened after the bill was paid.

The staff packaged our leftover dinners in plastic to-go boxes and the pecan tart ice cream leftovers in a recyclable paper box. We had a very brief ride home, not longer than 30 minutes. During this time, the paper dessert box leaked sticky ice cream all over my boyfriend's car interior. It also leaked throughout the lobby of our apartment building, into the front entrance of our apartment, and onto my dress, before we noticed the [also paper] bag carrying all our leftovers was compromised.

It was certainly a small oversight by whoever was packaging leftovers, but we weren't too thrilled to spend part of our Valentine's Day cleaning the car interior, apartment floor, and doing laundry.

Now, the main takeaway:

Would we go back to Linwoods, flaws and all?

Absolutely. It was a truly special dining experience.

For another special occasion, we would go all-out as we did. For a casual lunch or dinner at Linwoods, we'd have our entrées and stick to water and skip the dessert. It's a pricey experience, and deservedly so. This isn't an everyday restaurant and that's part of the charm.

Linwoods is special and we loved our date night. We'll be back!

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