Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Price Range: Appetizers from $1.50 for onion rings to $4.25 for pate; dinners from $8 for chicken or veal to $12.75 for lobster stuffed with crabmeat. Children's portions are half price plus $1.
Atmosphere: Hunt country formal: sutiable for special nights out.
Credit Cards: Visa, Master Charge.
Reservations: Recommended on weekends.
Specail Facilities: Booster seats, Sunday brunch, parking lot, accessible to the handicapped.
The Hunter's Inn was a bit of surprise. First, there was the address - Great Falls, where a couple of downtown Washington restaurants have relocated or opened branches.
Then there was the drive to get there - through rolling, almost rural countryside. Somehow we had visualized a country inn, maybe pictureaquely half-timbered and set on an acre of wooded ground.
Well, The Hunter's Inn is in a shopping center, albeit a well-designed and attractive one.
Inside, another illusion quickly faded. Nope, this was no cozy hunting lodge complete with roaring fire. It looked more like a refined English country hotel, with hunting prints on the walls, chintz cushions and a touch of California chic thrown in for good measure. Actually, except for the huge skylight and abundant greenery, the restaurant reminded us of a little place in Gloucestershire where we once spent a fascinating evening listening to two English gentlemen argue over "Monty's" place in history.
The dining room at The Hunter's Inn has been so carefully decorated, so quiet and so dim in the candlelight, the we began to wonder if we should have left the children at home. The sight of another couple with a child in wo reassured us, however.
So did the friendly and efficient waitress. When asked, she explained that there was no children's menu, but that smaller portions of some entrees - such as crab cakes, shrimp, sole, and prime ribs - could ordered for half the listed price plus $1.
The menu was straightforward, and as might be expected, included game. For example, roast duck with peach and orange sauce, $9. My husband, who would rather eat food than track it, ordered pepper steak, $12. Determined to keep to the spirit of the thing, I went for the poached salmon, $9.
Agreeing on something for once, our two girls decided to split an order of chicken brochette, $8. The 10-year-old also asked for onion rings, $1.50.
A salad and vegatable accompanied each main course.
For starter we tried fried mushrooms, $1.75, which were the highlight of the meal and worth hoing back for. Thickly battered and deep fried to a sizzling, crisp outside, the mushrooms were tender inside and so juicy the liquid almost spurted when we bit into them.
By contrast, the onion rings tasted as if they had recently spent time in a freezer.
The appetizers were followed by basket of hot rolls and salads, large shallow dishes of very crisp, very cold romaine lettuce in a creamy, dill-flavored dressing.
For the most part, we rated the entrees about average, but at the prices we were paying, we expected better.The salmon was moist and flaky, topped with spinach leaves and rather too much hollandais that masked the salmon's flavor. The steak was tender and properly cooked and in an adequate pepper sauce. Both orders came with crunchy zucchini cooked with fresh tomatoes.
The chicken brochette, chunks of white meat cleverly wrapped in pieces of onion skin and resting on a bed of undercooked rice, was too heavily charcoaled for our 6-year olds taste. Her sister, who would eat chicken any way except with the feathers on, polished off the lot.
The desserts, too were disappointing. Canned whipped cream was an insult to the chocolate mousse, $1.50. The cheesecake, also $1.50, was rich and sweet, but dry.
Also available to round out the meal were expresso, $1.25, cappuccio, $1.50 and $2.50, and Irish coffee $2.50.
The evening cost us $48.54, tax and tip included.
There is another Hunter's Inn under the same management in Potomac, Md.