Almost buried in the Columbia rants below was a recommendation from a poster named Kay for a restaurant in Ellicott City called Cerando's. She could not have been more spot on with the recommendation. I noted it because she mentioned it was BYOB...my husband loves bringing his own vino to restaurants. I mentioned it to him, we read the review on Sunspot.net as she suggested, and headed out. It was really really marvelous.
Not very large, and almost lost in a strip shopping center (the anchor of which being a pretty cool Asian supermarket), it was amazingly unbusy for a Friday night. At other restaurants in the Columbia area, I have no doubt we would have been told it would be 45-minute-to-an-hour wait for a table. We were seated by the dessert case (very smart on their part, very bad for our hips). Behind the dessert case is the open kitchen, where all food prep could be watched (I love it when restaurants do that...they have to be pretty sure of themselves, and I appreciate that).
The menu focused on seasonal options. The note on the menu said that it changes weekly, depending on what is fresh. Entrees were all under $20. I started off with creamy pea and arugula soup, the husband had grilled scallops with jicama slaw. Both were outstanding. My main course was shrimp and scallop risotto, my husband had the grilled duck breast with mashed potatoes and a grilled portobello mushroom. Both plates swabbed clean. For dessert, we split the Chocolate Velvet...chocolate cookie bottom, chocolate mousse top, enrobed in dark and white chocolate.
I heartily agree with Kay, and recommend that you should pay a visit to Cerando's. Patronize it so that it sticks around for awhile. Howard County definitely needs places like this.