Nestled on the edge of Hobbit’s Glen Golf Course in Columbia in the shiny new clubhouse that most recently housed the Coho Grill, The Turn House is more than a resting place between holes. Chef Thomas Zippelli, who trained at Michelin 3-star restaurants on both coasts, has created a crave-worthy seasonal menu driven by local provender.
Chef. The 27-year-old Zippelli is a hometown boy (he attended River Hill High School in Clarksville) with some crazy cred. A graduate of Johnson & Wales, he worked for two years at Eleven Madison Park in New York and another two at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry in Yountville, Calif. (where he briefly ran the fish station and made all the restaurant’s fresh pasta). He was sous chef at Seattle’s iconic Canlis before returning home to open a place of his own.
Location. The Turn House, found in a rambling neighborhood of original mid-century Columbia homes, is in a building owned by the erstwhile Columbia Association. Returning to the area intent on opening a place of his own, Zippelli had secured a spot in Hampden (the former Alchemy), until the Realtor nudged Zippelli and his partner-father to check out the old Coho Grill in Columbia. “I remembered it as clubhouse … that it smelled like a locker room,” says the chef. “But my dad and I went for a beer and loved it.” Plus, he says, “it’s got crazy views—and parking.”
Décor. The Turn House took over from Coho Grill without missing a beat. “We didn’t even close,” says Zippelli. Golfers would finish their lunch at around 3 p.m. on Mondays, while crews waited in the parking lot to pounce and work through the night. Zippelli’s mother, Denise, contributed to the interior design, choosing a muted palette of beige, brown and pale aqua. Patio dining overlooking the gorgeous green is perfect in warmer weather.
Food. Zippelli’s seasonal dishes gently combine textures and flavors. Creamy housemade burrata comes in a spicy oil with grilled bread, a crispy duck with a hazelnut crunch is surrounded by roasted apples, seared scallops are drizzled in whole butter and dotted with sunchokes. Lunchtime offerings include sandwiches, salads and, yes, a crab cake.
Drink. General Manager Tim White, a level two sommelier and San Francisco native, has worked front-of-the-house for Ritz-Carlton and at the Eau Palm Beach Resort and Spa. The wine list includes about 18 offerings by the glass.
Sweets. Jessica Banner makes all of the restaurant’s bread and desserts—including ice cream. She will bake custom cakes, lavishly decorated with buttercream frosting.
Final Verdict. Zippelli has returned home to Howard County to establish—with help from his parents—a destination-worthy restaurant.
The Turn House
11130 Willow Bottom Drive, Columbia