Maybe it is the proximity to Wheeler Farm, which is just a field stone's throw from Ravenwood Inn, but we felt like we were going back in time as we entered the parking lot to the renovated farm house turned restaurant.
Our sense of nostalgia was reinforced, not so much by the interior, which has some modern touches, like track lighting and wormwood wainscoating painted a chic metallic gray, but rather by the menu. It has been some time since we gazed upon a menu that featured meat and potatoes as its primary fare.Ravenwood Inn's bill of fare is a pricier version, however, than its turn of the century pastoral neighbor. Steak and seafood dishes average $15 and up. Rack of lamb ($18.95), prime rib (three sizes from $10.95 to $17.95), teriyaki shrimp ($15.95), and a whole cornish game hen ($13.95) along with salmon ($14.95) and halibut ($13.95) are a few of the dinner entrees. The least expensive entrees are teriyaki chicken and the petite filet, both $9.95.
As a newspaper article commemorating Ravenwood Inn's opening in 1986 points out, this is not the chicken and dumpling fare that was served during the quaint house's bygone era.
We ordered two of the appetizers, a steamed artichoke and sauteed mushrooms, each $3.95. Both were nicely prepared and served hot. The mushrooms were a bit salty, covered with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese in a wine and butter sauce. The slightly lemony artichoke was laced with herbs and accompanied by mayonnaise and drawn butter dips. We were less impressed with the two soft though warm mini loaves of bread that also preceded our dinner. We would have preferred something with a bit more tooth.
A french onion soup was adequate, somewhat small in size and the salad was a colorful mix of greens, though overly cold and bordering on the soggy side. There were several chunks of ice in the servings; any distinctive flavor was washed out. Considering the portions quality and quantity, we were a bit put off by the $6.95 ala carte price we paid for just the soup and salad combination one of our children ate. A choice of either soup or salad is included in the dinner price, however.
We felt that the quantity of two of the entrees did not merit the price listed on the menu. The New York steak ($13.95) was unevenly cut, thin, and smaller than similar cuts in comparable restaurants. The petite filet and crab combination ($26.95) was also disappointing. The 8-ounce filet was flavorful and done as ordered; but the single cracked crab leg was cold when the plate came to the table. The swordfish ($15.95), an evening special, was grilled just right with an herb butter. The potatoes au gratin, one of the starch choices, had a nice cheesy flavor; the wild rice tasted of too much of soy sauce. Baby carrots and a few sprigs of broccoli were overcooked.
Two of the desserts, the chocolate mud pie and a strawberry cheese cake, listed as $2.95 on the menu but appearing as $3.95 on the actual bill, were, like the other dishes, overpriced for the quality. The mud pie was mocha ice cream in a cookie crumb crust covered with chocolate sauce. Even a little hot fudge would have made it a dish deserving of the cost. The cheesecake had just a hint of the smoky flavor of the kitchen, as if it had been left too close to the grill.
There is a breezy informality about Ravenwood Inn which was both interesting as well as bothersome. Our friendly waitress literally was racing up and down stairs to serve her different tables on our recent Saturday night visit. We marveled at her dexterity, but couldn't help but wonder that even if shorthanded, the management could have exercised some caution. There are also areas of the small interior that were cold and breezy. Several diners ate with their coats on.
We also marveled at our waitress' sympathetic response when we told her, upon receiving our bill, $95 without the tip, that we were not using dining out coupons. We noticed other diners using theirs; for a fleeting moment I thought maybe the somewhat high prices might be a reaction to these offers. She expressed some sympathy at our astonishment that three entrees, two desserts, two appetizers and two beverages could cost that much. But I guess these things happen when us city folk have a night out on the farm.
Ravenwood Inn, 6055 S. Ninth East, Murray. 262-8328. Open till 10 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Accepts major credit cards and check with guarantee card. Reservations recommended.