Thursday, June 12, 2008

Progressive Dinner: Walk The Street of Maple Lawn To Trapeze, oZ Chophouse and Ranazul

Choose your own adventure by staging a progressive dinner at the three upscale restaurants in the Maple Lawn development in Fulton.

Trapeze, oz Chophouse and Ranazul are each worth their own visit -- and their own review -- but the trendy, comfortable bars in each joint invite you to start by sampling your w
ay through all three. They're on three corners of the same intersection, so it's almost a city night walking from door to door.

We started with Trapeze's "New American" menu for a crab-topped fried green tomato and the "Bluestone" salad highlighted by bacon and a mustard dressing. Next time, I might try the flat iron carpaccio. (I love calamari, but we once were served the most rubbery disaster. Be stronger than we were and send that back.)

You could visit in any order because all three have nice selections and idiosyncratic beer/wine lists. But we crossed next to oz Chophouse for the tuna tartare, the calamari and a side order of macaroni and cheese. The tuna was the best savory dish of the night, and the waitress recommended a wine -- even let Mrs. HowChow sample -- with the fun, relaxed air that makes all three of the Maple Lawn places inviting. The crab dip has also been delicious. But realize that oz is the only bar where they blared the televisions. Sounds great if you're there for the ballgame, but it did cut down on the "night out" atmosphere of the other two.

We finished at Ranazul. Order the sopapias. Don't argue with me. We tried other desserts, and even though Ranazul has exquisite tapas, I recommend the good coffee and these fried triangles, dusted with sweet spices and drizzled with honey. (Ask for extra honey. Sometimes, they're drier than others.)

Overall, this is an expensive night. With three drinks, five small dishes, coffee and two desserts, I think we spent close to $100. But it was a slow night where we talked and adventured more than we would in any single restaurant.

(Update: Trapeze closed.)

Click here for a full post about Ranazul.  If you're in Maple Lawn, check out the i.m. Wine liquor store.  Or click for a working list of the best restaurants in Howard County.

8180 Maple Lawn Boulevard
Fulton, MD 20759
Trapeze on Urbanspoon

oz Chophouse
8191 Maple Lawn Boulevard
Fulton, MD 20759

8171 Maple Lawn Boulevard, Suite 170
Fulton, MD 20759
Ranazul on Urbanspoon

NEAR: The Maple Lawn development is on Rte 216 just west of Rte 29. From Rte 29, you pass through one traffic circle. Then you'll see the development on the right and enter from the second traffic circle. There is parking behind any of the restaurants.

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