LeeLynn’s Restaurant, at 9495 Old Annapolis Road, Ellicott City, is about a 15 to 20 minute drive up Route 29 from Savage, but it’s a hidden gem worth a visit.
I say hidden because you can’t see a sign from the road, and when you pull in, Allview Liquors is all you see at first. Just park (not in one of the liquor store spaces) and follow the path back to the yellow doors into LeeLynn’s Restaurant, named for owners Lee Stumpf and his wife Karen Lynn, who reinvented the site from the former GL Shacks Grille.
The establishment offers three separate dining areas—the cozy lounge, which offers a rotation of live music on Thursday nights; the dining room (also cozy, and more family-friendly); and the shaded patio garden (it’s cozy, too). Since I’m an abiding fan of live music, I chose the lounge so I could hear the music. The low-ceilinged room with windows looking out on the patio includes a small bar, several plasma screen TVs, a lounging sofa, and some 15 or so small tables suitable for parties of one to four people.
At 8 p.m., all of the small tables were occupied with animated patrons, and a lively din of chatter filled the room, but not unpleasantly so. I had no trouble hearing the guitar player, Jack Selway, who was performing that evening, seated on a stool in a corner of the lounge. A small, slim man wearing jeans and a driving cap that gave him a vaguely Irish look, his mellow voice and a subdued strumming style were perfectly suited to the intimate room, and he provided a pleasing program of laid-back classic and folk rock from the 60s, 70s and 80s.
Some customer reviews have noted less-than-stellar service, and I, too, found that I was sitting unattended at my table for a good 10 to 15 minutes before I finally managed to catch the attention of a server. But from there, the service was fine; my server was reasonably attentive and prompt, friendly without overdoing it (I hate it when servers act like you’re going to be their best buddy for the evening).
Since LeeLynn’s is noted for its “small plates,” I tried two items from the “small plates” menu (which actually gives you a choice of a small plate or a large one) –the Thai Wings and the Crispy Eggplant, which turned out to be a fairly decent-sized meal. The Thai-marinated wings came coated with a tangy Asian glaze and chopped scallions, with a dipping pot of peanut sauce on the side. While both sauces were delicious, they were a bit in competition; the two sauces served in separate dipping pots would have been perfect. Also, the meat in the wings seemed just a tad overdone. The Crispy Eggplant was deep-fried in tempura batter and wasn’t exactly “crispy,” but was quite tasty, as was the dollop of ginger-dashed cucumber salad that accompanied it.
These two plates satisfied about 89.6 percent of my hunger, so I filled in the remaining 10.4 percent with a delicious apple-crisp dessert. Curiously, the menu on the website does not include all the selections on the menu, but it includes some traditional American fare as well as more adventurous dishes and some vegetarian plates. Some of the recipes from the old GL Shack days have been carried over.
LeeLynn’s is both cozy and friendly, with a reasonably priced menu offering a mix of dishes for both sophisticated and unsophisticated palates. Their live music in the lounge on Thursday nights is an especially attractive feature for folks who want to socialize after work for two or three hours with drinks and a meal.