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The Inn At Easton - Still Closed


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A few weeks ago we spent a lovely weekend at The Inn At Easton. On Friday night we ate at Out of the Fire which I posted about elsewhere. On Saturday night, we had the tasting menu at The Inn.

Its been a few weeks and I am crazy busy at work but in general the meal was very good. I am embarrassed to say I can't remember all the courses we had but stand outs included cornmeal-crusted fried oysters, a prawns on a bed of lentils and pheasant. Chef Evans was extremely flexible and allowed us a choice of several desserts for the table. We also enjoyed a pleasant chat with him after the meal.

We did go for the wine pairing with the meal, and at $50 per person we felt the pours could have been a little bigger, but then again maybe we've just been spoiled by the 'bottomless' pours available at Joe H's blowout dinners at the Lab and Maestro. Three if us went for the wine pairing but by the end of the meal we were wishing we had instead just bought two good bottles of wine from the wine list.

The Inn itself is beautiful and a perfect place to unwind for the weekend and when you stay there you also benefit from the delicious breakfasts (fresh made granola, pastries and sausage rolls to DIE for).

I also thought that the DR.com community might be intersetd to know that Andrew is hosting a 'guest chef' dining series this year for which several of the more popular chefs on this board will cook a dinner at The Inn. The Chefs and dates are below.

ROBERTO DONNA

Sunday, March 5

KAZUHIRO OKOCHI

Thursday, April 13

ROBERT WIEDMAIER

Wednesday, May 10

ERIC ZIEBOLD

Sunday, June 25

JEFF TUNKS & DAVID GUAS

Friday, July 21

CATHAL ARMSTRONG

Sunday, August 13

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i had dinner at the inn at easton this past sunday evening. i had heard good things about the place but there were no specific references in my head so i arrived with no set expectations.

the service was extremely cordial from the moment we walked in the door. because the clock in the hotel room was 20 minutes fast, we arrived 15 minutes early rather than 5 minutes late for our 7:30 table. they must have thought me a moron because i just had just called to indicate our impending tardiness and then we arrive early. we were seated by the fireplace in their waiting lounge and enjoyed a 1/2 bottle of vueve yellow label - this certainly would not have been my choice but it was the only option available by the 1/2 bottle and better than the by the glass pour. the wine list was one of two small quibbles i have with the inn.

after about 10 minutes we were seated in the main dining room at a lovely table in front of a faux fire place. highlights of the meal...

first course: fried oysters, sweetbreads with roasted beats

mid-course: pasta (cannot recall the name; it was about 2inches long and resembled penne but was thinner) with a black trumpet mushroom and truffle cream sauce. my guest did not order a mid-course, but chef was kind enough to plate the remaining pasta for her as we were the last reservation of the night.

entrees: lamb sirloin, & veal cheeks. the sirloin was grilled perfectly. but i cannot recall the accompaniments. The veal cheeks were tender almost to a fault.

the wine: we started with a sauncere for the oysters and the pasta course. i had wanted to go will a big pinot for lamb and veal cheeks, but our server disagreed. she suggested that because of the preparations of each, a syrah would be a better choice. i indicated that i was familiar with the nyers cuvee d'honneur that was listed for about $100 and that i would like to try something similar stylistically. she recommended a $55 bottle that was great! how often does a server recommend a bottle of wine that is 1/2 of what a guest indicates that they are willing to spend. i was very impressed with that gesture.

my quibbles: the wine list was too heavy , imho, with wines that have cache but not great value. the hard wood floors were beautiful, but every time a staff member with hard leather soled shoes walked about the dining room it was rather annoying and distracting.

it was without question a thoroughly enjoyable evening and well worth both the drive, and price of dinner (3 courses, 2 and 1/2 bottles of wine - $265ish before tip).

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fyi

THE INN AT EASTON PRESENTS GUEST CHEF

SERIES----------------------------GCS2006

The Third event will be held Wednesday, May 10 2006Robert Wiedmaier,

Marcel's, Washington DC

Chef and owner Robert Wiedmaier, born in Germany of Belgian descent,

attended the Culinary School of Horca in the Netherlands. He apprenticed

at the Thermidor Restaurant, a Michelin 2-star establishment in Hulst,

Holland and then moved to Brussels to work with the prestigious Eddie

Van Maele. He moved to the states in the mid 80's and worked for notable

Washington restaurants as Le Chardon D'or, Le Pavillion and at the Four

Seasons as the sous chef for the Aux Beaux Champs restaurant. In 1996 he

was recruited as the new executive chef for the Watergate Hotel, the

position formerly held by the late Jean-Louis Palladin of over twenty

years.

For more information please visit our website (www.theinnateaston.com)

or call 410.822.4910.

Reservations are required. Limit 35 people. $75 per person (excludes

tax, tip, and beverages).

MENU

AMUSE BOUCHE

Tete de lion of Corn Flan and Crab

FIRST COURSEPan Seared Scallop with Artichoke Puree Roasted Red Pepper

and Vermouth Essencel

SECOND COURSEFillet of Striped Bass, Bay Spinach, Aged Sherry and

Shallot Sauce

THIRD COURSEBelgian Beer Batter Soft Shell Crab, Tomato Lemon Beurre

Blanc

FOURTH COURSE

Pan Seared Foie Gras with Duck Confit, Plum and Green Peppercorn Sauce

FIFTH COURSEPork and Boudin Blanc, Lentils and Pea Shoots

SIXTH COURSEHumboldt Fog Cheese with Grape and Port Marmalade

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here I go, pimping the Inn at Easton again......

Dear Guests,

I wanted to inform you about our special guest chef, Lien Yeomans of the Green Papaya on Sunday, October 8 at 7pm. Johnny Apple recently wrote a piece about the Inn in the NY Times and mentioned my work experience at the Green Papaya. Apparently, a customer of Lien Yeomans came into her restaurant in Brisbane, Australia and showed her the article. She e-mailed me and asked if she could visit Liz and I while at a wedding in the States. I wrote her back and asked her to be a guest chef at the Inn and she agreed. I believe her food is magical and in many ways a dying art. Lien cooks North Vietnamese food that existed prior to the Vietnam War. She learned to cook from her mother and house servants when everybody in the family compound would sit together and have a major mid-day meal. I wanted to work in her restaurant after eating her green papaya salad. I simply got up from the table after having dinner with Liz and asked Lien for a job foregoing my sous chef position at a much bigger restaurant in Brisbane at the time. Full details of the dinner including the menu are on our web site www.theinnateaston.com

Eat well.

Cheers, Andrew and Liz Evans

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I had a wonderful two nights at the Inn this past weekend. The place is a real treasure with unique little rooms and an atmosphere that is very welcoming and relaxing.

Saturday night my girlfriend and I partook of the 4 course offer. The menu is divided in four sections with four selections in each section, but it turns out that one can order any four dishes from any section (slight upcharge if you order two entrees). However, we stuck with one course each from each of the sections and the meal had a wonderful progression, and I'm glad I didn't skip the desserts.

My favorite was the green thai bouillabaise, with my only regret being that I didn't order it, so only managed to beg for a few bites. In fact, I thought the best part of the meal was the Asian influence throughout the meal. The sea scallops were excellent with just the right amount of cilantro, and the pork belly perfectly cooked and beautifully plated over a papaya salad. Expecting my entree of grilled prawns and lentils to not match the heights of my first two courses, I was pleasantly surprised to find it my favorite course. The prawns were not overwhelmed by tasting heavily of the grill, but came out perfectly juicy and flavorful.

The sticky fig and ginger pudding was a great end to the meal, with the rich cream perfectly offsetting the tower of gingered pudding. We split a bottle of excellent Shiraz, I won't comment too much on the wine offerings because of my inexperience, but the list did seem well priced.

Take advantage of the great weather to come this fall and spend a weekend at this lovely inn.

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Simply, this is one of the five best restaurants in the Baltimore-Washington area. Along with Maestro, Citronelle, CityZen and Charleston it is an absolute treasure that those on this board should go out of their way to discover. And, considering the relative cost, it may be the best bargain of any for fine dining in the Mid Atlantic area. It also is probably our best "country" restaurant; I believe that while it does not have the style or sumptuous luxury (or the price) the food is currently better than at the Inn at Little Washington or Auberge Provencial. Additionally, on a tasting menu of nine dishes there were at least three that I thought would legitimately qualify for what I call a "great dish:" green Thai Bouillibasse, roasted kangaroo tenderloin (yes, Kangaroo!) and sticky fig and ginger pudding. Fried Chesapeake oysters came close, certainly equal to those at Charleston which I have called "high art" and the intense, purely flavored puree of English sweet pea soup was exemplery. Further, 2002 Elderton Command Shiraz is one of the world's great wines and it is offered with a minimal markup.

I cannot say enough about The Inn at Easton. Service was attentive, exact, friendly and overall, superb. Our only regret was not having visited this Inn sooner, much sooner. Walking out the door our only thoughts were how quickly we can return.

A sincere thank you to Tom Sietsema for discovering a Great restaurant that until his rave review last year had not received the attention it deserves. I should also note that this was the last restaurant that R. W. Apple ("Johnny Apple") wrote about for the New York Times: http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.htm...%20W%2e%20Jr%2e His last "review" was a rave!

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Joe --

My wife and I just went to the Inn At Easton two weekends ago, we also had a wonderful time. I'm not sure if they have any rooms left, but they were running a great winter promotion through the end of March: stay two nights with dinner one night, "continental" breakfast two mornings (I put continental in quotes because it was better than any continental breakfast we've ever had), and you only pay for one night's lodging. For us, this meant a savings of $250 from the usual weekend rate.

I would rate our dinner as very good indeed, though I'm not sure I'd put it at the top of the list in the DC as do you. The menu is quite small, but everything we ate was at least good, if not spectacular. The wine list was also good if small -- I wish there were more reasonably priced (say $40 or under) choices, or at least some half bottles. The service was near perfect -- although our first course arrived before our bottle of wine.

I had the tuna tartare, grilled prawns and flat iron steak, my wife the tuna, artichoke risotto and monkfish. The monkfish was ok if not quite as advertised; my favorite was probably the prawns. We started with an amouse of a mushroom soup served in a glass; I don't remember the desserts but they were pretty good (we should have tried the pudding).

The chef was kind enough to stop by at the end of our meal and chat for a few minutes, and the staff was wonderful throughout our stay. Easton is a lovely town to visit, and a central location for a trip to the eastern shore (we shopped at the outlets, ate lunch in Cambridge at Portside, and hiked at Blackwater Wildlife Refuge all in the same day).

I had two other complaints: the room was a little too quirky for my taste (creaky wooden floors, an oddly narrow bathroom) and the method they use for holding your credit card. When I checked in, they swiped my card and I signed for the balance due on the room, but not for dinner (I had reserved the room by paying for one night in advance). Then when I went to check out on Sunday, I expected to pay just for the dinner -- but I was presented with a credit slip for the lodging and dinner. It turns out they swipe your card as a "hold" but don't charge you -- this was not explained at the time, and it made me feel as if I have to be extra careful and check my credit card bill to make sure I haven't been charged double. The woman who explained this to me was obviously frustrated as I am not the first person to complain about this practice -- and I explained it is a bad policy to leave your guests with such a poor last impression of your establishment.

If it seems I'm being picky, it is just to note that this is a very good but maybe not great establishment. I think we will return for a dinner again this year, but maybe stay at a cheaper motel nearby.

One last note: their website has a lot of useful information, including chef's notes on each of the menu's offerings, but it's design deserves a spot on the worst websites thread. Truly an awful experience of frames causing multiple scrollbars. As a lover of food but a web design professional, I wonder about how restauranteurs who are so good at what they do (service and cooking) are so bad when it comes to choosing who to design their websites.

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According to the Baltimore Sun, the last day will be 12/31/07.

Seems the restaurant is closing due to divorce. Surprised no Food Flash from Tom.

The phrasing in the article is a little confusing. I'm quoting, since if I paraphrase, I'll muddle it more:
He plans to...

...close the inn's dining room on Jan. 1 for the winter season, although the inn itself will remain open, offering discounted or free (!) dining at Thai Ki.

If the inn doesn't sell by April, Evans plans to reopen the dining room then. His hope is that it will sell, but that the new owners will want him to oversee the restaurant as executive chef while running his own place nearby.

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I just got this in my email:

To all of The Friends of The Inn at Easton:

Hello, we wish you and your families very happy holidays! We wanted to

keep you informed about the exciting news about the "Inn" . Andrew is

opening a new restaurant a block away from the Inn called "Thai Ki ". He

will be closing the restaurant at the Inn for Dinner service for

January, February and March.The Inn will still be open , and we have

some very exciting packages that will include Breakfast as usual ,but

Dinners at the new Thai Ki. restaurant. This is a dream, he has had

since he spent many years in Australia and the Far East. Please go to

oour web site to see our exciting specials for the upcoming New Year at

www.theinnateaston.com

Andrew Evans & The Staff at The Inn at Easton

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Rumor has it that the restaurant at the Inn at Easton is reopening, probably in November. Chef Evans is said to likely still be involved, though it will be a "joint operation" (whatever that means). The Inn itself is under new ownership (being finalized now). Anyone else know anything about this?

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