Hours 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Brunch from 12 to 4 p.m. and dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Prices: Dinner entrees range from $6.50 to $10.75.
Atmosphere: Elegantly furnished in a countrified way (wear your tweeds); continental menu.
Credit cards: Master Charge, Visa, American Express.
Special facilities: Accessible for patrons in wheelchairs: parking facilities.
"Hey, look, they don't use plastic china," said one of our daughters when we arrived at the Hunter' Inn in Pothmac. In fact, plastie anything at this pretty little restaurant would be tacky alongside the fresh flowers of the tables, the floral upholstery on the bentwood dining chairs and the oysters Rockefeller on the menu.
Such amenities mean higher prices, but occasionally it's uplifting to go some place wher the french fries don't come in paper bags and the shrimp wadded up in a coat of breading. By now we've learned that with some discreation a family of four, even if they all have the appetites of truck drivers can eat well at fancier restaurants for under $35..
We had a feeling The Hunter's Inn might be a little dressy,so our girls, 9 and 11, wore their corduroys without the holes in them. This war quite acceptable because the inn is informal, albeit in a posh way. Even the saddle, boots and riding crop displayed to evoke the inn's horsey theme, are arranged according to Bloomingdale's. And of course the table settings are immaculate, the parquet floors gleam, and the service is graceful.
My family was more interested in eating than in a dissertation on ambitance, so we turned to the menu. We passed up some appealing appertizers (escargot, avocado imperial, shrimp) for budget reason and to save space for the pastries, which had been strategically parked on a cart not a yard from our table.
The Hunter's Inn goes to some lengths to brighten up its fare, adding new twists to the standard steak and seafood menu. For instance, it has poached salmon, $8.25, rarely offered elsewhere, rack of lamb for $10.50 and veal chops, $8.50. The most expensive item is the stuffed lobster, $10.75, available as a special the evening we were there. The curried chicken brochette was the cheapest dish at $6.50.
Prime ribs go for $8.50 and, somewhat surprisingly, they were one of four items on the menu kids can have for half price. Our 11-year-old signed up for a mini-rib, actually enough for an adult; and although enough for an adult; and although it came well done, rather than medium as requested, she didn't seem to notice.
Our other short one had the children's shrimp for $4.25. These came in an individual casserole in a tomato sauce laced with garlic and herbs. Once the shrimp were gone, our daughter dumped the leftover sauce on her baked potato. Rice would have been a better choice, and perhaps it should automatically come with the dish.
My spouse had chicken and beef brochette, $7, the sleeper of the evening. Slices of beef, chicken and assorted vegetables had been skewered, sauced and broiled. The mean was juicy and the vegetables still crisp. The peppers hadn't even shrivelled up and scorched, their usual fate when we try shish kebabs at home (in fact, they usually fail off into the fire along with the tomatoes).
On the way into The Hunter's Inn, I had noticed fresh oysters sitting on a large bed of ice in the bar and was moved to order oysters Rockefeller, $7.75. Six shells were each filled with a layer of spinach, then an oyster, topped with a cream sauce and browned under a broiler. It was enjoyable and very rich, but the sauce could have been more highly seasoned, perhaps with nutmeg or cayenne pepper.
The sauce on the fresh broccoli, the vegetable of the day, also needed help. We guessed it was meant to be a Hollandaise, but I couldn't taste any lemon in it. The inn does got a blue ribbon for putting some effort into vegetables that are frequently inedible elsewhere.
The Hunter's Inn does some other things well: The rolls are hot, for one, and the salad bar is the best we've seen in months. There is the usual array of lettuce, cucumbers and the like, but there is also fresh fruit, a respectable potato salad, a cold curried rise salad and three or four types of dressing, with the house dressing receiving honorable mention.
We also than The Hunter's Inn for placing the shield high enough over the salad bar so you don't hit it as you are serving yourself and spray chick peas and pickled beets around the dining room.
The deserts and pastries cost from $1 to $1.50, and I gathered from the satisfied groans of the children that the strawberry and whipped cream pie was a hit.
The grand total for our dinner, including desserts, cofee and tips, came to $34.76.