This time of year, there's nothing like a nice meal in front of a roaring fire. Or even a flickering gas fire. I tried to select a range of places for this Top 10, and not just make it a list of wonderful historic homes an hour's drive from Baltimore where dinner will cost you an arm and a leg. You can find more moderately priced restaurants with fireplaces on my blog at baltimoresun.com/diningatlarge.
Here's my list:
Ambassador Dining Room in Homewood has two fireplaces and is festively and beautifully decorated. Faithful readers know this is where my family and close friends go for our annual Christmas get-together and Indian food.
Brasserie Tatin in Homewood is one of those restaurants you probably don't even think about as having a fireplace because the decor is modern. Its Christmas decorations are up now, surrounding the stone-manteled fireplace that's turned on every night.
Elkridge Furnace Inn in Elkridge. This 18th-century mansion on the Patapsco River has six working fireplaces and loads of period charm. The menu offers French and New American cuisine.
Kings Contrivance in Columbia is at its best this time of year, with six working fireplaces. It's closed Christmas Day but has a special a la carte menu on Christmas Eve from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Milton Inn in Sparks. The charming dining rooms all have fireplaces, but they are electric, except for the one in the Hearth Room, the hostess told me when I called. Request to be seated there when you make your reservation.
Oregon Grille in Cockeysville offers a classic Christmas experience with festive decorations inside and out, fires blazing in four fireplaces inside and one outside on the terrace. Fine-dining steaks and seafood.
Petit Louis in Roland Park. There are several tables near this French bistro's fireplace, but if there are only two of you, request the cozy table just to the right of it. The place is noisy and crowded, but it still manages to be romantic this time of year.
Red Maple in Mount Vernon proves that you don't have to go to an historic inn to have dinner by a fire. The fireplaces in the lounge are contemporary, and you'll be eating Asian-inspired tapas basically on your knees, but you'll have fun.
Treaty of Paris in Annapolis has been recently renovated, but the basement dining room of the 1773 Maryland Inn still has two working fireplaces. The food can be described as Continental, with an emphasis on seafood.
Ze Mean Bean in Fells Point is a small and cozy charmer with Eastern European comfort food and some more gourmet fare. The small dining room has a large fireplace, and there's live music on the weekends.
READERS TALK BACK
Can't believe you left out The Chart House in Annapolis. Best view with a beautiful copper fireplace in the lounge
Posted by: magnew
Most (not all) Pizza Huts also have fireplaces. Mmmm....romantic, especially with a heavy slab of their new "Tuscani Pasta"!
Posted by: Donny B
Serafina's in Ellicott City has a wonderful fireplace in their restaurant. They also have great food too.
Posted by: chris
Hull Street Blues has one. They used to have fires, but the last time I was there, they had a bunch of pillar candles instead.
Posted by: Pigtown
Antrim 1844 has a beautiful dining room with a fireplace.
Posted by: Gabe
How many of these fireplaces burn real logs?
Posted by: Owl Meat Grainfed