When John Barrett Jr. and Mike Sipes bought Greystone Grill, they made a few crucial decisions. They replaced some menu items, lowered the prices, changed the name, and retained the original serving staff. But perhaps the most important addition John and Mike made was bringing in John Barrett Sr. to make sure they never succumb to "delusions of grandeur."
In the dining room, chandeliers sprout with purple bulbs and glass planter cases bloom with bonsai-style trees?a natural touch that starkly contrasts with the eatery's industrial, stacked-stone walls and steel-gray banquettes. Servers depart from the kitchen, their arms balancing plates of maryland crab cakes, wine-infused rack of lamb, and fish fillets dressed with mustard and capers. Barrett's chefs also take a modern approach to sandwich making, pairing Angus beef burgers with pineapple, short ribs with chili mayonnaise, and hand-cut fries. Adding to the upscale, yet relaxed ambiance, Barrett's Grill hosts live jazz and features half-priced bottles of wine on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
Perched on a hill overlooking northern Baltimore County's scenic valleys, Royal Rabbit Vineyards typically provides guests pleasing views throughout the year. It isn't until late spring and summer, however, that the landscape begins to change: heavy green and purple orbs crop up along 4 acres of climbing grapevines. By fall, the heavy, ripened grapes are ready for harvest—later on they’ll be turned into the winery’s award-winning wines or used as low-impact marbles. The small winery lies along the Piedmont Wine Trail and Mason-Dixie Wine Trail, which connects more than 20 small, family-owned wineries in Pennsylvania and Maryland.
In keeping with the Royal Rabbit Vineyards motto—"Treat yourself royally"—many of the wines have royal titles, including a cabernet franc blend dubbed “the duke.” Wine labels display a kingly rabbit holding a golden chalice.
Established in 1986, Basignani Winery cultivates and bottles hand-crafted red and white wines using a traditional cellar method and techniques perfected over several years. Owners Bert and Lynne Basignani have named some of their favorite wines after their four children, such as the dry Elena, a white seyval blend aged in oak, or the Lorenzino Reserve, a rich blend of cabernet sauvignon and franc melded with fruity merlot. Wednesday?Sunday, the winery holds half-hour tastings of its creations and encourages?weather and Dionysus?s mood permitting? self guided tours of the vineyard. A 20-minute drive north of Baltimore, the winery boasts rows of plump green and burgundy grapes hanging off vines as the winery?s resident border collies run and play in the fields. In spring, vibrant fuchsia petals burst from branches and delicate blush blooms droop low to the ground to provide cover for a romantic meal or microfiche exchange among visitors.