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Travel is important. As humans, we need to go to other cities, other towns, and other countries to see how other people live, to understand ourselves better, and to understand our place in the world. Sometimes we have mentioned that going to a restaurant is like traveling to another country, a vacation. This is what Garten in Severna Park attempts to offer..
A highly successful renovation of the previous Café Breton, Garten by Preserve is in a charming country cottage on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard. The exterior is painted with a mural of honey bees. Planting beds are in the garden where surely, vegetables will be planted this spring. The restaurant is bright and nicely furnished but tends to get a bit noisy at capacity. For the brave and adventurous this time of year, outdoor seating will be very popular when the weather warms up.
Here you will find a modern take on Northern European country-style cooking. The menu favors sausages and sauerkraut. A quick scan of the menu reveals such items as currywurst, soft pretzels, schnitzel, and sauerbraten. This may not be the sort of cuisine that comes to mind when considering a new, chic restaurant, but when trying anything new, it’s good to be open-minded.
Appetizers are a selection of somewhat heavy items. The pretzels are fresh and soft, in a torpedo shape, studded with bits of coarse salt, and served with mustard. The smoked salmon dip is quite good and flavorful.
The charcuterie board is all about flavor combinations: some meat, some pickle, with a dash of sauerkraut and mustard on a point of grilled bread. A winter salad is replete with ingredients that hit all the marks for a rewarding healthy dish consisting of beets, cheese, hazelnuts, blood orange, and greens.
Sandwiches favor sausages and burgers, but the Preserve Burger is unremarkable. The Jalapeño Business, with jalapeño-cheddar sausage, has the potential to be a good sandwich but isn’t spicy enough or cheesy enough to be truly great.
Platters and dishes signify selections that veer more toward hearty food. The chicken schnitzel is a hit: the chicken is nicely brined and breaded and served with a satisfyingly lemony frisée salad. The pot pie is piping hot and rich with chunks of chicken, potato, and corn. A pork shank is fall-off-the-bone tender, served with red cabbage and a coarse mustard glaze.
A sausage platter, key to the restaurant’s theme, is disappointing. Could the sausages be more distinct and flavorful? Or maybe it’s also due to the choices of sides that are all cured or sauced or vinegary and cheesy. The sauces could supply more oomph here. Beer-battered apple rings are sweet but not too sweet.
Garten takes wine very seriously. General Manager Chris Walker has a thing for organic and natural wine. The dining room walls are lined with beautiful shelves holding cases of natural and organic wines. The Domaine Benastra La Petite Sœur is full-bodied and fruit-forward without being too jammy. The Red Tail Ridge Good Karma Riesling is floral with a sweetness that aligns well with the savory dishes.
Then there are also beers on tap and in bottles. Try the Hefeweizen or the house Pilsner, Garten Picnic Pils. They also offer a selection of mocktails with evocative names like Green Bee and Marigold Daydream.
It is an amusing notion to go to a country restaurant on Baltimore and Annapolis Boulevard and be offered fare that one would expect to find on the outskirts of some town in Germany or Northern France. We applaud Garten for its imaginative offerings in Severna Park, where there is a need for better restaurants.
849 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd.,
Severna Park, Maryland 21406
Hours of Operation:
11am–3pm | 5–9pm
Christine Fillat lives on the Magothy River and is an aficionado of Chesapeake Bay living and cooking.
© Annapolis Home Magazine
Vol. 14, No. 2 2023