Hidden Gem in Hunt Valley – Cinnamon Tree Restaurant Review
Last week my husband and I were treated to a very special dining experience at the Hunt Valley Inn’s in-house restaurant Cinnamon Tree. The restaurant located on the first floor of the hotel used to be THE place to wine, dine and be seen in Hunt Valley. Fresh off its multi-million dollar reinvention with new leadership, menus and stylish look, the signature restaurant at Hunt Valley Inn is ready to once again shake up the regional dining scene. Both my husband and I were surprised that we had missed this hidden gem in Hunt Valley.
We arrived for our dinner reservation at about 7:45 that night, it was a quiet Wednesday night. Parking was a breeze, we found a spot right at the front of the hotel.
We walked in and saw the sign and host area for Cinnamon Tree. Waiting for us at the front area was Abraham Rubio, Director of Food and Beverage. He seated us, thanked us for dining with them tonight and asked us if we were interested in some beverages. He offered us a choice between sparkling and flat water while we were getting comfortable at our table.
Both my husband and I opted for flat water while we browsed the menu thinking about what we wanted to try that night at dinner. Rubio encouraged us to get comfortable, take out time going over the menu and let him know if we needed any assistance. He gave us a brief history of Cinnamon Tree and the Hunt Valley Inn, expanding on the decor of the restaurant and the hotel as a whole.
Both my husband and I were interested in learning about the decor choices. Rubio shared with us about the history around Hunt Valley being “horse country” in that area. It was one of the main reasons for choosing some of the rustic designs to go along with the elegance of the restaurant. When we were offered the option for a beverage from the bar I choose a Moscato, my husband left the choice up to Rubio.
Rubio ended up choosing the Mint Julep for my husband. He also explained some of the drink menu options from the Polo Bar which sits adjacent to Cinnamon Tree.
The Polo Lounge & Bar is the signature cocktail club house with an oversized communal table, comfortable circle banquettes and expansive bar seating. The restaurant’s exposed brick design is splashed with sunlight that filters through a wall of floor to ceiling windows, with HDTVs streaming the latest news and sporting events. The restaurant’s distinct cocktail program is seasonally fueled with hand crafted Juleps celebrating Baltimore’s traditional racing season and refreshing Moscow Mules appearing in the summer, in addition to an established array of fine spirits. A menu of tapas-style bites is served nightly with favorite flavors such as Old Bay Fries.
After taking some time to review the current menu we decided on the Crispy calamari with sweet + sour, asado aioli for our appetizer. It was perfectly battered and fried. The calamari had the right amount of bite and wasn’t overly spicy at all. The asado aioli just made the dish even better. It had a slight smokey flavor that added another flavor profile to this dish. I was surprised that my husband ate as much as he did because he usually doesn’t eat calamari.
I had already set my sights on the salmon for dinner, my husband was going to let Rubio choose for him. He was in the middle of encouraging me to try something new, when Rubio approached the table and offered to have the chef choose our dinner for the night or we could order what we wanted from the menu. I quickly decided to be adventurous and have the chef choose for us, hoping I would end up with a meal I wouldn’t have chosen for myself. It was the right decision because we ended up enjoying a delicious four course meal with wine pairings, that made our night even more spectacular.
First Course – Salads
My husband ate the wedge salad – crisp iceberg, vine ripened tomato, bacon, blue cheese. Usually my husband isn’t a fan of blue cheese but he gave it a try because we wanted to try new things. He loved it! He ate it all, his favorite part surprisingly was the house made blue cheese dressing. He said it was rich and creamy with fresh chunks of blue cheese, much better than store brought versions of the dressing.
I ate the Cinnamon Tree Signature Salad – mixed greens, smoked gouda, candied walnuts, apple cider cinnamon vinaigrette. Mines was very light and refreshing. Smoked gouda is one of my favorite cheeses so I enjoyed having it with my salad. I almost ate the whole plate and it was so light I didn’t feel stuffed or like I was eating too much at all. It was the perfect starter to my meal.
Second Course – Soups
My husband ate the traditional onion soup – swiss cheese, sliced toasted baguette. When deciding on our dishes Rubio made sure to ask about food allergies and any special requests. I am allergic to onions so this soup of course would not be a good choice for me. It was perfect for my husband and he enjoyed it.
I ate the She Crab Soup – dry sherry, chives, crostini. I raved about this soup our entire meal. It is the best crab soup I’ve ever eaten PERIOD! If you’re a fan of Creamy Crab Soup be sure to get to Cinnamon Tree and try their version. You won’t be disappointed. It was rich and creamy with big lumps of crab in the soup. The slice of bread included with the soup was just as delicious.
Third Course – Main Dishes
My husband is a big fan of seafood so it was not hard to choose the Maryland Crab Cake with a béarnaise sauce, au gratin potatoes and vegetables of the day. I tried the crab cakes and they were one of the best I’ve had. Living Maryland crab cakes are all over but this one hardly had any filler and was mostly lump Maryland blue crab meat. They are broiled perfectly and didn’t fall apart on the plate once you started eating them. This was another dish my husband really enjoyed. He cleaned his plate.
I ate the Veal Osso Bucco – traditionally braised, vegetable mirepoix and mashed potatoes. I’ve always wanted to make osso bucco for dinner since seeing Julie and Julia. That movie really made me want to try cook lot of different foods. I’d never tried an osso bucco before so this was a very special treat for me. This course was paired with a red wine, another first for me because I usually only drink white wines. The veal was fork tender, full of bold flavors and comforting. This is a dish I would enjoy in the winter on cold days. The red wine was the perfect accompaniment for the veal.
Fourth Course – Deserts
Originally I received the Key Lime Pie for desert but my husband wanted it, so he made a convincing case on why we should switch. I did try a small bite before he devoured the entire plate. It was great. The crust was made in-house and had flakes of grated coconut inside. I like it a lot because it wasn’t very tart at all and the whipped cream on the top made it even better.
I ended up with the Almond Cheesecake for dessert. The cheesecake also had a homemade crust that was flaky and buttery. By the time we got to desert I was getting full but this creamy cheese cake was the perfect end to dinner. Cheesecake fans would enjoy this indulgent treat. It was just fine without having the whipped cream but I am sure if you choose to eat it with your cheesecake you would enjoy it even more. I took half a slice to my mom and she said was delicious, two days later. At the end of the night Rubio brought executive chef Patrick D’Costa to our table so we could pay our compliments to him. It was the perfect end of a great night.
If you looking for something special for a date night be sure to check out Cinnamon Tree. This is truly a hidden gem in Hunt Valley.
About Cinnamon Tree
The Cinnamon Tree is a comfortably sophisticated destination for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The main dining room celebrates the union of rustic and contemporary with touches that include dramatic glass link chandeliers, tables of dark wood, tufted banquettes and dining chairs covered in velvety smooth fabrics, in addition to walls featuring custom millwork that hint at Baltimore’s equestrian history.
Cinnamon Tree restaurant is open daily for breakfast (6:30 – 11:00 AM) and all day dining (11:00 AM – 10:00 PM). Cinnamon Tree is located in the lobby of Hunt Valley Inn – 245 Shawan Road • Hunt Valley, MD 21031.