Glyndon Grill is all about casual comfort. But don't confuse that with being sloppy.
The restaurant, which opened in October in the Butler Road space formerly occupied by Mia Carolina, feels upscale but it lacks the pretension that "upscale" sometimes involves. With friendly service and a kitchen turning out familiar and mostly well-executed comfort food, Glyndon Grill has already become a popular neighborhood spot.
Scene & Decor The town of Glyndon is charming, historic and horsey, and Glyndon Grill fits right in. Though the space is newly renovated, horse country signage and historic photos capture the essence of the village.
On a recent Thursday night, the restaurant was busy and buzzy, with tables full of families and couples out with friends. The vibe was country clubby — more like a party than a restaurant. Though it didn't seem as though everyone already knew each other, it was easy to imagine that everyone around us could be friends.
Drinks We started with a gin rickey ($7), a fun throwback cocktail combining gin, lime juice and club soda. The bar's version was well-balanced, refreshing and very easy to drink. The Brazin zinfandel ($9 per glass), a red from California, was fruity and smooth, proving a good match for our entrees.
Appetizers The "shrimp cargot" ($12) arrived in the traditional escargots dish, with shrimp, not snails, swimming in garlicky butter. And that butter was good, even good enough to forgive the cutesy name.
The sweet shrimp was tasty and a fun substitute for snails — though as they sat in the dish, they continued to sizzle, which meant that our final bites were a touch overcooked. But we didn't mind so much, since the shrimp were mostly just carriers for that slippery, savory sauce. Toast points also worked as a sauce delivery mechanism. The crisp bread had enough heft to scoop up the butter and garlic.
After gorging on shrimp and butter, we were happy we'd ordered salads ($5 with entrees). Glyndon Grill offers two house salad options: the Barrett's salad, with bleu cheese and raspberry vinaigrette, and the Glyndon salad, with goat cheese, pecans and a mild vinaigrette dressing. Both were fresh and bright, with perky lettuce and a just enough cheese to add interest.
Entrees Like the restaurant's atmosphere, Glyndon Grill's entree selection successfully rides the line between upscale and comforting. The chicken pot pie ($13), that most classic comfort food, was warm and savory, with flaky crust filled with steaming hot chicken, carrots, potatoes and peas.
We might have like a little more chicken in the dish, but even as it was, the pot pie warmed us and filled us up.
The scallops risotto ($24) showed off the kitchen's more sophisticated capabilities, though somewhat unevenly. The risotto, studded with bacon and mushrooms and served with spinach and beurre blanc, was lovely, full of flavor and elegant texture. Unfortunately, the scallops were overcooked. Though nicely seasoned, with an appealing crust, they must have spent a few seconds too long in the pan, leaving them chewy instead of delicate.
Dessert We finished dinner with a large piece of flourless chocolate cake ($6) that was dense and a bit dry. It's flavor was sweet and rich, though, making it a pleasant end to a mostly satisfying meal.
Service Glyndon Grill was busy during our visit, but the kitchen turned out our meals with impressive speed. In fact, our appetizer and salads came out so quickly that the waiter apologized, saying he would wait to send our entree orders to the kitchen, so we wouldn't be bombarded with all our food at once.
His openness and chatty attitude was appealing and we liked the place even more when we realized that the staff regularly checked in on each others' tables, just to make sure everyone had everything they needed. That community approach contributed to the restaurant's energy — both the guests and the servers seemed happy.
In a restaurant with a positive vibe, where everyone seems to be having fun, it's easy to overlook details — like overcooked scallops — that might spell disaster for dinner in a grimmer environment.
At Glyndon Grill, nearly everything else, from the charming space to the risotto underneath those scallops, was on point. With professional, helpful service, that added up to a successful, satisfying and comforting dinner.
Back story: John Barrett and Michael Sipes, the team behind Barrett's Grill in Hunt Valley, opened Glyndon Grill in October 2013. The restaurant, located in a Butler Road shopping center in Glyndon, serves thoughtful comfort food in a warm, horse country-inspired space.
Parking: Lot in front
Signature dish: Don't miss the "shrimp cargot," a cute play substituting shrimp for snails in the traditional butter-and-garlic-drenched preparation of escargots. Served in an escargots dish, the shrimp are sweeter and springier than snails, but just as savory.
Where: 4844 Butler Road, Glyndon
Contact: 443-881-4183; glyndongrill.com
Open: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday
Credit Cards: All major
Bottom line: With a casual, clubby atmosphere, appealing comfort food and friendly service, Glyndon Grill has already earned a spot as a popular neighborhood restaurant