Highland Inn Opens: From Private Residence to Fine Dining

Owner Brian Boston hopes his new restaurant will become a landmark in Howard County.

Chef Mark Davis and Owner Brian Boston stand in front of a horse mural painted by Sam Robinson at the Highland Inn. Credit: Andrew Metcalf
Chef Mark Davis and Owner Brian Boston stand in front of a horse mural painted by Sam Robinson at the Highland Inn. Credit: Andrew Metcalf

Owner Brian Boston said he spent the past five years and $4 million in renovations to open the Highland Inn, which officially opened Monday.

Boston, who operates the Milton Inn in Baltimore County, known for its American cuisine and formal atmosphere, has high aspirations for the Highland Inn. The restaurant is located off of Route 108 in Highland.

"I think this restaurant should be Howard County's premier restaurant," said Boston. "It should be the new landmark restaurant in the county."

"It feels great to have it open. I'll be even more relieved when it's full."

The converted 1890s farmhouse features large windows, wood paneling, stone walls, red carpet, a large patio and views of the adjoining farmland. It's a casual, but upscale restaurant said Boston.

The food is being handled by Chef Mark C. Davis. Last year, he headed up the kitchen at Baltimore's TEN TEN, where his cooking received a rave review from Baltimore Magazine.

"My thing has always been upscale comfort food," said Davis, who described Highland's cuisine as lowcountry. "It's the things our parents made us growing up, but maybe didn't necessarily know how to get it done."

He said the restaurant is making everything it can including jellies and mustard. Ingredients are locally sourced from within about a 100 mile radius in coordination with about 55 to 60 farms, said Davis.

The menu includes entrees like jumbo shrimp with crispy pork belly served with maple and chorizo braised kale and hot sauce ($24) and braised short ribs with root beer braised brussel sprouts, peppered bacon, carrot parsnip mash and onion straws ($29).

Davis specifically mentioned the PB&J appetizer. That's seared pork belly served with pistachio butter and apple cider jam on a mini brioche ($11).

Boston struggled to open the restaurant last year. He planned to open in the summer of 2012, but became entangled with county regulations dealing with the building's septic system.

But now that the problems are worked out, he's settling in and pleased with the location.

"Howard County seems to have a sophistication about it that I really like," said Boston.

He said he was happy to be outside of the reach of the city problems he's faced at other restaurants, where he's had to deal with crime, parking and other drama.

He said the region is underserved in terms of upscale cuisine and ambience.

"Howard County is going to see an elevation in their food scene because of Highland Inn, Petit Louis and other places," said Boston.

The restaurant seats about 150 people in two dining rooms, one upstairs and one downstairs that looks out onto the patio. There's also a small private dining room as well as a bar area that seats 21.

The drink menu includes a cucumber margarita made with blood orange juice, Patron Silver and agave; and Makers Mark sweetened by honey infused with Thai chilis and mint leaves.

"We serve that on the rocks with a glass of water to help put out the fire," said bar manager Joshua Lambert.

Sunday brunch and lunch menus will be added in late January, said Boston.

The restaurant is a new member of what appears to be a burgeoning privately-owned food scene in the county, a departure from a scene once dominated by chain restaurants.

Recently Chef Robert Gadsby opened Gadsbys Bar American in Columbia, which aims to provide upscale American cuisine. On the Columbia lakefront well-known Baltimore restaurateurs Tony Foreman and Cindy Wolf are planning to open their second Petit Louis Bistro early this year. Pure Wine Cafe on Ellicott City's Main Street recently doubled its size. And plans are in the works for Iron Bridge Wine Company, just up the road from Highland Inn, to expand.

"If other restaurants don't up their game, they're going to die out," said Boston.

As for his restaurant, he hopes it becomes a local favorite. He said it has been embraced by the Highland neighborhood, and expects more attention as word of mouth begins to spread.

"This restaurant is my legacy," said Boston. "I hope it becomes the landmark restaurant in Howard County."

Restaurant Information

Highland Inn
12857 Highland Road, Highland MD

Laurie Butts January 09, 2014 at 08:40 PM
Sounds like a nice atmosphere but the menu doesn't sound like the food I had growing up in Ho.Co. Never had root beer braised brussel sprouts or maple and chorizo braised kale or carrot parsnip mash in my life. A little too fancy/complicated for my taste!
Michael January 09, 2014 at 10:58 PM
I wish the owner luck, but I don't think there are enough people around with brows high enough to sustain it.
H Mom January 10, 2014 at 11:54 AM
I don't know anybody who eats the kind of food described, or who can afford those kinds of prices these days. And pork belly - - gross! How about a more regular place for the rest of us.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »