The Cinnamon Tree at the Hunt Valley Inn defied expecta-tions. The high ceiling reminis-cent of a pitched barn roof, the soft seating in warm shades of brown and gray (nearly every butt gets a banquette) and the views of the courtyard—where the eponymous tree sculpture has been relocated—on one side. A sweep of green on the other. Soon we forgot we were at a suburban Wyndham Hotel, home to karate conventions and McCormick visitors. The food, from Pakistan-born Patrick D’Costa, likewise took the hotel dining room stratagem up a notch. Crispy fried calamari was drizzled in Asian-inspired sweet-and-sour sauce and blan-keted in slivers of jalapeño, a monster lamb shank came nestled in gingery curry with basmati rice, and a crabcake was absent filler, falling in tender lumps when prodded with a fork. All this and a fairly priced Willamette pinot, and without the attitude (or the price tag) too often encountered in these parts. Be warned: Portions are scaled up, and the hot fudge brownie is a weapon of mass destruction. As is, we suspect, the Sunday buffet brunch.
245 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley, 410-785-7000. huntvalleyinn.com