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This post is a little about hyperbole and a lot about a place called The Bartlett Pear Inn (BPI), IMHO The Best Restaurant On The Eastern Shore. The BPI has occupied the space formerly known as the Inn at Easton for about two years. Apologies in advance for a longer post...okay a bit of an opus...but it's as much about guilt for not having posted sooner as it is about having a lot to share. And, for those who hate long posts, I've tried to use liberal formatting (sections, bold face, spacing, italics) to make it more skimmable. You can even stop after the one line Executive Summary just below if you like. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Great and often inventive food from a humble yet driven perfectionist. Great people with genuine niceness and hospitable spirits. Great value at moderate prices. Go soon. FULL POST INCLUDING SOME MULTIMEDIA, LINKS, REFERENCES & DETAILS I have to say I'm more surprised this thread didn't already exist than with any other new topic I've yet seen appear on dr.com because... -- It's a truly great place and I'll go into detail on that below. -- It's run by a truly wonderful couple, Jordan and Alice Lloyd. -- The Lloyds were the buyers of the historic inn from Andrew Evans, of the previous tenant, The Inn @ Easton and of current "BBQ Joint" fame. Of course, The Inn @ Easton was loved on this board and had a fairly active thread. Surely some Rockwellians have investigated what moved in when Chef Evans moved out besides me? -- Not that I put much stock in those "other" food community sites but BPI has earned the highest ratings on virtually all of them (tripadvisor, urbanspoon, zagat, yelp, blah, blah). There has been a fair amount of media attention showered on the Bartlett Pear. Though will say TS underrated this place in my view--he was there on a night when the best aspects of BPI may not have been on full display. I hope he goes again soon. IT'S ACTUALLY MOSTLY MY FAULT BPI'S COMING OUT ON DR.COM COMES SO LATE (SHORT BACK STORY) The most blame for BPI's very late coming out on dr.com is best directed at me. Our (my SO and I) story with BPI goes back to December, 2009 and that nasty first snowmaggedon storm which started on a Friday night. It stranded us at the Inn at Perry Cabin in St. Michaels for most of a weekend. "Most" because we made it out for just one dinner--at the Bartlett Pear--the Friday night the snow started falling with the roads just passable for us to make it back to St. Michaels from Easton after dinner. Anyway, since then, we've dined and stayed at Bartlett Pear maybe half a dozen times. I thought I'd posted on it before but hadn't. I suck. So, on with it already. But, first a very brief and relevant word or two about exaggeration. HYPERBOLE Most. Best. Worst. Top 3. Top 10. Outstanding. Extraordinary. Fantastic. Too many of those words in amateurish write-ups like mine. That said, there will be some hyperbole in this post. There has been already. Catch that thread title? It's intended. I think the place rather unique. And, getting the cliched stuff out of the way early, I'll go on record with a somewhat audacious claim but one I think accurate. OVERALL BARTLETT PEAR HEADLINE BPI is at least the best food on the Eastern Shore and would be a Top 10 (5?) for sure were it here in DC. We love it. It's fabulous. We've sent many friends there through word of mouth. One of our very favorite spots in the region. THE BARTLETT PEAR INN/BACKGROUND + WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE? As written briefly above, the BPI is now about 2 years old. It's a gorgeous inn as I'm guessing the Inn at Easton was (I regrettably never visited it then). Alice Lloyd, the innkeeper, keeps 7 lovely, luxurious, yet moderately priced, rooms in great shape. She also handles two young children and one boxer but, no worries, the boxer is never in the inn for those concerned about that. I know they did extensive renovation to the Inn before reopening it as BPI. If bath accoutrements are any litmus, they use L'Occitane here but the rooms are surprisingly easy on the wallet. It's a perfect base for exploring Easton and the area. But, The Thing that's most exceptional about BPI is the restaurant and Jordan Lloyd's cooking. Jordan's only 31 and originally from Easton (as is Alice, whose maiden name was the inspiration for the Inn's name). He has the resume of someone older, more seasoned and very accomplished: - culinary school in Pittsburgh - worked and studied under several famous chefs including: * Christian Delouvrier (Bal Harbour, FL) * Thomas Keller (Per Se in NYC) * Michel Richard (here at Citronelle) Even TS wrote "....Lloyd has the chops to back up his dream..." Beyond "chops," Jordan has the passion, ambition, knowledge and skill one would expect given his bio. But, beyond that, there are three things we think most worth noting about Jordan and his cooking. THREE REASONS WHY JORDAN LLOYD'S COOKING STANDS OUT First, Jordan has that gift, exceedingly rare among would-be culinary innovators, to combine and invent; to create new, delicious and, at times, surprising flavors. This is the stuff that can't be taught in culinary school. No foams, sous vide or crazy experiments gone wrong on a plate here. Most everything we've ever had here has just been really excellent; lots of wows. And, in any restaurant of however many stars or diamonds, that's the most important thing, right? Second, Jordan has drive. It's not just about work ethic--though while anyone really good in this industry works their butts off, I can't imagine it'd be possible for anyone to work harder than Jordan. It's about his intense focus to become a great chef and then keep improving. That's why he sought out the jobs he did before opening BPI. That's why he logs the hours he does. That's why he'll even cook in 145-degree ambient temperatures (more on that below). Third and most important, Jordan is just an exceedingly nice guy in a way that can't be faked. He's genuinely humble and unassuming. I wouldn't be so sure about this had I not had as many interactions with him as I have; had I not taken a cooking class with him in his pillbox of a kitchen or chatted with him many times in quieter moments at the Inn. Maybe it's because he's so young. Maybe he was just raised that way. Niceness isn't just what makes someone so likable. Less obvious is that it (and associated humility) are what make it possible for a driven professional to always improve and get the best from staff. Such is Jordan. The BPI serves a full hot breakfast every day and dinner every night save Tuesday. They have a great brunch on Sunday, which I'll use for this post's food specifics since we were just there this past weekend. I'll then post again with some specific dinner items after a future visit unless others beat me to it. FINALLY, THE FREAKIN' FOOD! BRUNCH. This past weekend, four of us planned a Saturday dinner and Sunday brunch at BPI during a weekend stay. But, alas, for the first time in all our visits to BPI, our Saturday plan went awry thanks to the crazy high temps that would tax nearly any air conditioning system. Jordan's kitchen was getting up to 145 degrees and, after sweating out a Friday dinner, he shut down Saturday night to give his staff a break, despite the loss he knew he'd take with the dining room fully booked. We went to plan B for Saturday, enjoyed discovering the Bistro Poplar in Cambridge (which Jordan personally booked us into and which now has its own separate shiny new thread on dr.com) and cursed our bad luck for not having eaten at BPI Friday night when we had the chance. After all, as nice as the Inn is, the food is the biggest reason we keep coming back for weekends. Ah, 20/20 hindsight. So, Sunday brunch couldn't have come soon enough. We'd had a few Sunday brunches at BPI before so knew to expect great things. Our two friends couldn't stop raving. We ordered a larger number of things to best try out the various proteins, produce, dairy and treats featured across the menu. BRUNCH HEADLINE (FOOD AND MEAL EXPERIENCE DETAILS FOLLOW) Wow! Delicious, interesting and impressive. Strongly recommend eating (and staying) at the Bartlett Pear. SERVICE The service at BPI, whether dinner, breakfast or brunch, is always attentive, efficient and genuinely friendly and casual. This is one of the memorable and unusual things about BPI. They effectively meld an elegance and outstanding quality with an informal and casual culture. Most of the servers are from the area and pleasures. We had a relatively new and younger server for the brunch who took great care of us and our various special requests. FOOD We enjoyed: - Truffled Scrambled Eggs ($7): served in cast iron after being continuously whisked, these are light, velvety, savory and really, really tough to duplicate at home despite Jordan's unassuming and deceptively simple directions. - Side of Applewood Smoked Bacon ($4): suffice to say, this isn't the applewood smoked bacon sold at Whole Foods. Need to find out his source. This is the bacon any serious breakfast place should be forced to serve. - "Eggs Benedict" with Stonehouse Farm Poached Eggs, fresh hollandaise, Inn-Made Brioche toast and the bacon ($14 or free if staying at the inn). Of course, the technique is predictably and exactly what it should be with eggs perfectly poached to order. It's the brioche and hollandaise that elevate this benny above most. - Chef's Sunday Inn-Made Pappardelle Pasta ($21): I always, always order the pappardelle whenever on Jordan's brunch or dinner menus. Again, a simple preparation with his hand rolled pasta, light butter, truffle, 8 or so well seasoned cockles and a cheese that really makes the dish and the name of which I can't recall. This dish = sumptuousness. Sumptuousness = this dish. - Stonehouse Farm French Egg Omelette w/ Roasted Bell Pepper Ragout, Homestead Farms Organic Green Salad ($11 or free to overnight inn guests). The omelette was lovely, light and beautifully seasoned but it was the bell pepper ragout that wow'ed. I'm not a big bell pepper fan. That said, these rocked. - Sugar Snap Peas, Roasted Garlic Confit ($6): Maybe an odd thing to get with brunch and everything else but I felt like an in season vegetable and these didn't disappoint. - Pear Tart ($4): Befitting their name, there are often pear-related dishes on the dessert menu in one form or other. This had light airy puff pastry and perfectly chopped tender pieces of ever-so-lightly-sweetened chunks of pear. - Pear Sorbet ($3): the menu calls this a "scoop" but it's actually a quenelle. The best fruit sorbets are an explosion of the featured fruit which makes you forget anything about frozen, ice or ice cream. This is that. - Fordham's Root Beer Float w/ Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream and Ginger Spice Macaroon ($8): This was the only thing we did right culinarily Friday night, getting some tea and this at BPI's bar after a disappointing dinner elsewhere. Really refreshing and reminiscent of both past and current eras. Jordan's ice cream. A pear straw unlike anything I'd seen before. I'm not sure about the provenance of the roughly 4" diameter macaroon that capped the tall soda fountain glass but it was the perfect complement for the dessert if not quite up to the global macaroon standard :-) BEVERAGE We didn't really put this to the test this trip and others with way more expertise than me will have to assess it. But, I can say that the wine program is of nice size and forethought with about 40 reds, mostly European/French (Beaujolais, Burgundy, Rhone, Bordeaux, Barolo, Brunello) and 30 whites. Smaller selection of about 10 beers but with choices including a Saison Dupont Farmhouse Ale (Belgian/$12), Meredsous Brune Dubbel Ale (Belgian/$8) and Traquair Jacobite Ale flavored with coriander (Scotland/$12). THE END P.S., Go to Bartlett Pear. Stay. Have dinner. Have brunch. Have drinks. This place is a destination. [disclosure: I have no vested interest in BPI other than the history as described above. Just an avid fan.]
Surprised that nobody has ever posted comments about the Tilghman Island Inn and because such fine dining is available in such a small town where one might not expect it, I've started this topic. We dined there a couple nights ago and had a wonderful meal. As everyone enjoyed all their food and the menu changes frequently, I'll give a more general review rather than a blow-by-blow on each dish. I had the Bouillabaisse, Cream of Crab soup, and Diver Scallops. What I found interesting is that the dishes often didn't dutifully follow the classic versions of many of the dishes, but still tasted great. The cream of crab soup was one of the best I've had, a large portion with generous amounts of high quality crab, and was a great value at $6.99. My desert, Bittersweet Chocolate Cake with House Made Vanilla Bean Ice Cream & Chocolate Ganache was luscious. They also have a nice well-priced wine list. The menu page can be found here. A 5 course tasting menu is $60, entrees average around $25. They also have bar menu specials that frequently feature dining room dishes for around $10-15, which is a great deal (I think these are offered on weekdays).