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darkstar965

Bartlett Pear Inn, in the Inn at Easton Space - Chef Jordan and Alice Lloyd in Easton Serving Breakfast and Lunch (and Private Dining for Dinner)

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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. wink.gif 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.]

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I don't know. Just preceding a squirrely review or two, TS had this to say in May when he awarded just two stars to Bartlett Pear in his follow up, two years hence:

Liquids make some of the best approaches to the Bartlett Pear Inn, where the evening can launch with an artful pisco sour, sail on to a refreshing potato-leek puree mounted on shaved ice, and end with one of the best cups of coffee I've had in months (from Eastern Shore Coffee & Water).

Best cup of coffee? In months? Really? Maybe Tom doesn't do coffee in or around town? He's purely a food & wine guy? Not sure what to think.

His hyperbolically praised coffee source is a wholesaler. They divide their focus between coffee....and water. And, while there are many other concerns that might be prompted by the product lineup at the link above, the most obvious are that this fine coffee purveyor sells Folgers, Starbucks and, for those that prefer a fine hot cocoa, Swiss Miss. Really?

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I don't know. Just preceding a squirrely review or two, TS had this to say in May when he awarded just two stars to Bartlett Pear in his follow up, two years hence:

Best cup of coffee? In months? Really? Maybe Tom doesn't do coffee in or around town? He's purely a food & wine guy? Not sure what to think.

His hyperbolically praised coffee source is a wholesaler. They divide their focus between coffee....and water. And, while there are many other concerns that might be prompted by the product lineup at the link above, the most obvious are that this fine coffee purveyor sells Folgers, Starbucks and, for those that prefer a fine hot cocoa, Swiss Miss. Really?

So the fact that they sell a wide variety of products automatically means that every product is substandard? Did you have any coffee there?

I've had crappy pour-over coffee with impeccably sourced beans, and great coffee at diners. Dismissing his comment outright because the coffee happens to comes from a wholesaler seems pretty silly.

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So the fact that they sell a wide variety of products automatically means that every product is substandard? Did you have any coffee there?

I've had crappy pour-over coffee with impeccably sourced beans, and great coffee at diners. Dismissing his comment outright because the coffee happens to comes from a wholesaler seems pretty silly.

Totally fair point. On one hand, I think reasonable, when assessing any business, to draw a correlation between lack of focus and lack of contact with end consumers (as wholesalers definitionally have since they need to have a very broad mix to succeed) and lesser quality. LIkewise I think reasonable to also presume that a business that tries to do cheap/low quality and high value/high quality won't do either as well as one more focused; say a coffee roaster/purveyor that only does that. More simply stated, it's usually true that businesses that try to do everything (whether restaurants, retailers or auto manufacturers) generally aren't as much about high quality. But those are generalizations that don't always hold.

I haven't yet tried their coffee so, on that alone, not fair to diss it wholesale (pun unintended) as you've pointed out. I think my reaction was as much about the "best in months" part of his comment versus a belief that the coffee couldn't have been decent. As all the other topics mushrooming on the board might indicate, we have a lot of great coffee in this town now. Tom's comment, however unintentional, undermines that reality a bit IMHO. And, of course, I'd take real issue with his overall assessment of two stars for Bartlett Pear, whose food I do know well and have had many times.

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I haven't yet tried their coffee so, on that alone, not fair to diss it wholesale (pun unintended) as you've pointed out. I think my reaction was as much about the "best in months" part of his comment versus a belief that the coffee couldn't have been decent. As all the other topics mushrooming on the board might indicate, we have a lot of great coffee in this town now. Tom's comment, however unintentional, undermines that reality a bit IMHO. And, of course, I'd take real issue with his overall assessment of two stars for Bartlett Pear, whose food I do know well and have had many times.

Yeah, it certainly would be nice if there was bit more context to his statement. Best restaurant coffee, or best coffee in general? Does someone who spends so much time in restaurants ever have time to sit down in a great coffee house? Either way, I've had too many good meals ending with lousy coffee...I'm happy to see coffee mentioned at all.

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Yeah, it certainly would be nice if there was bit more context to his statement. Best restaurant coffee, or best coffee in general? Does someone who spends so much time in restaurants ever have time to sit down in a great coffee house? Either way, I've had too many good meals ending with lousy coffee...I'm happy to see coffee mentioned at all.

You're more generous with TS than I am in this instance. Time to sit down in a great coffee house? C'mon. It takes 2 minutes to grab a cup at Qualia, Peregrine, Dolcezza, Mishas, Sidamo, etc, etc. He clearly likes coffee and knows it well enough to comment. By writing "best in months" he implies frequent trials and visits have happened. Careless. But, it's not a big deal...and I agree wholeheartedly about coffee getting messed up in many restaurants. To be brutally honest, my initial reaction was also partly driven by Tom's overall assessment of Bartlett Pear, a place I know well and which I think Tom's review didn't do justice. Would love to get more Rockwellians' views of the place. In contrast with TS, I think it IS the best fine dining restaurant on the Eastern Shore. What's better?

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You're more generous with TS than I am in this instance. Time to sit down in a great coffee house? C'mon. It takes 2 minutes to grab a cup at Qualia, Peregrine, Dolcezza, Mishas, Sidamo, etc, etc. He clearly likes coffee and knows it well enough to comment. By writing "best in months" he implies frequent trials and visits have happened. Careless. But, it's not a big deal...and I agree wholeheartedly about coffee getting messed up in many restaurants. To be brutally honest, my initial reaction was also partly driven by Tom's overall assessment of Bartlett Pear, a place I know well and which I think Tom's review didn't do justice. Would love to get more Rockwellians' views of the place. In contrast with TS, I think it IS the best fine dining restaurant on the Eastern Shore. What's better?

Of course it's always possible that he HAS experienced all the places you've mentioned, and the coffee at Bartlett is just that good. Unlikely, but it sure makes me want to go there to try it out.

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Darkstar or others who've been -- do you recommend it more strongly for brunch or for dinner? (Staying in Cambridge for several days coming up, would definitely like to go here -- and the tween and husband would both love the root bear float.)

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Darkstar or others who've been -- do you recommend it more strongly for brunch or for dinner? (Staying in Cambridge for several days coming up, would definitely like to go here -- and the tween and husband would both love the root bear float.)

Definitely more strongly for dinner. That's partly because the dinner just more broadly and interestingly allows Jordan to shine. But it's also partly because they don't serve the Sunday brunch anymore; though maybe if more people bug them about it like me they would? I was there just last week and will post about that visit soon. Sneak preview for mtureck though: in the category of good people being able to constructively disagree (maybe?), BPI should change their coffee to Ceremony IMHO.

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Definitely more strongly for dinner. That's partly because the dinner just more broadly and interestingly allows Jordan to shine. But it's also partly because they don't serve the Sunday brunch anymore; though maybe if more people bug them about it like me they would? I was there just last week and will post about that visit soon. Sneak preview for mtureck though: in the category of good people being able to constructively disagree (maybe?), BPI should change their coffee to Ceremony IMHO.

Thank you! good thing I asked before I tried to go for brunch!

We'll be there next week and I need to make a reservation - will check back here beforehand to see what you say about your recent visit. (Coffee doesn't really matter to me, so I'll pay attention to the food recommendations.)

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We were tempted by several menu items so we had the tasting menu, which in our case turned out to be salmon tartare with radishes and cucumbers, potato soup, truffle butter glazed pappardelle pasta, halibut with smoked paprika and chive/basil oils, and a frozen lemon chiffon & graham cracker crusted dessert. We had it with the wine pairing flight and felt the wines served were excellent choices for each course, which made it well worth it.

Our meal was on par with the best we've had in the DC area (probably would be in top 10 in DC ... for comparables we enjoyed the tasting menu just about as much as we did at CityZen or Restaurant Eve), but in a slightly more relaxed atmosphere fitting for a small town inn. It was expensive ($240 for 2, incl. wine, tip, tax; on the a la carte menu first courses average $10 and mains around $30), but also reasonable for the elevated level of the cuisine and less than similar meals in DC. With the sources of many of the dishes listed on the menu, the talented chef is clearly a proponent of the Farm to Table movement. Highly recommended, would agree with Leviathan that Bartlett Pear is the best I know of on the Eastern Shore for American haute cuisine.

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Me and the misses went to the Bartlett Pear Inn for an early dinner last weekend.  I generally find restaurants in the 2 1/2 to 3 star category to be hit or miss and I hadn't done any research on the place, so my expectations were tempered.  The Pear blew away my expectations.  I shouldn't have been so surprised, but I didn't find out until after dinner that Jordan worked at both Citronelle and Per Se.

We ordered the 7 course tasting menu, which wasn't on the menu but our server offered it up.  You can choose each course like a traditional prix fixe, choose some courses, or leave it up to the chef entirely.  We left it up to the chef.

The service was excellent -- attentive but not overbearing, and warm but not folksy.  Pacing was good.  Absolutely no negatives to speak of.  We had everything we needed before we needed it without feeling like an army was watching over us.I have a food allergy and the server remembered the entire time, making note of what I couldn't eat.  That sounds very simple and basic but you'd be surprised how even 3 1/2 star restaurants forget or are oblivious.

The tasting menu $78.  No amuse bouche, which I was slightly disappointed in but you can't complain for the price.  The first course, a beet salad, was very ordinary in my opinion but fine.  The second course was the lobster bisque... and it was the best one I've ever had.  It was perfectly seasoned, not too heavy, and it came with a small lobster cake inside the soup.  The third course was an almond crusted sea scallop with succotash.  The scallop was properly cooked and plated with baby corn and other fresh veggies, a basil emulsion and balsamic reduction.  It made for several interesting flavor combinations.  For the fourth course, they did a duck magret breast with duck pastrami, quinoa, box choy and a blackberry-jalapeno gastrique.  I'm not a big fan of duck, but it was incredibly well seasoned and the duck pastrami was really good.  The fifth course was my second favorite and one of the best I've ever had.  It was a risotto with burgundy truffles, a Talbot Reserve cheddar cheese, parmesan reggionano and maitake mushrooms.  This was the best risotto I've ever had.  The mushrooms and truffles were each incredible and the chunk of cheddar combined with parmesan reggiano put it over the top.  If one were to make the perfect gourmet grilled cheese, it is this dish without the risotto.  Just spectacular.  We then cleansed our palates with what I think was a small basil gelato cone and moved onto the cheese course, which was nothing to write home about but good.  For dessert, they made bananas foster tableside.  The server did an excellent job with it and walked us through each step in the process.  It's not a terribly difficult dish to make, but it was very good.  Overall, the food was exceptional and the presentation was pretty damn close.  The employees have a great deal of pride and are incredibly invested in the place, much like smaller far-flung outfits like the Inn at Little Washington or the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm.

One of the 10 best restaurants near DC for me.  The food and service were both top 10 for me.  Maybe even top 5.  I included pictures of the lobster bisque, scallop and the risotto.

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Received a somewhat cryptic email that Bartlett Pear Inn won't be serving after September 24th, and that Jordan will pop up somewhere in the area.  I imagine he is moving to a space with a bigger kitchen and I am very much looking forward to it.

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On 9/4/2016 at 2:25 PM, ALargeFarva said:

Received a somewhat cryptic email that Bartlett Pear Inn won't be serving after September 24th, and that Jordan will pop up somewhere in the area.  I imagine he is moving to a space with a bigger kitchen and I am very much looking forward to it.

This is rather big news - can anyone substantiate it with additional information, or a source?

Darn it, Bartlett Pear Inn was on my short list for 2016.

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On 9/13/2016 at 5:54 AM, DonRocks said:

This is rather big news - can anyone substantiate it with additional information, or a source?

Darn it, Bartlett Pear Inn was on my short list for 2016.

According to their Facebook Page, it seems like they'll be serving breakfast and lunch, but no dinner - I've written them for clarification, as it isn't entirely clear to me.

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2 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

Not to ask the obvious question, but what does this say for the future of Bartlett Pear Inn?

Article says they recently switched to a more casual breakfast and lunch format. ;)

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