Bartlett Pear Inn

We stayed in Easton during my birthday weekend, our first trip to this part of the Eastern Shore. I let the restaurant know on the opentable reservation that this was my birthday dinner. When we walked in, the hostess sat us in this little private alcove by the window. Sitting on the table was a “Happy Birthday” envelope and inside was a note signed by every member of the staff! Even the chef! This gesture was only a sign of things to come.

The restaurant is in a historic house and it is very cozy. It really feels like you were invited to a dinner party at someone’s home. The place reminded us of the Kitchen at Rock Hall, a little further up the Eastern Shore, which unfortunately is no longer in existence.

The first thing that I noticed about our server was a jarring lack of polish. I thought about it for a while, and then I remember that this place is on the rural Eastern Shore. There is not exactly a large pool of experienced servers who have worked in a fine dining atmosphere.

We started with a half bottle of Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley. A good wine will complement an occasion, and this wine only made the night better. Before we ordered, we were served a house made baguette from the Inn baker, along with butter molded in the shape of a pear and sprinkled with coarse black pepper and salt.

We could not decide on our entrees, so we put in an order for the Duo of Tuna Tartare. Half of the dish was slices of raw tuna crusted in what tasted like Old Bay and then sprinkled with coarse salt. The Old-Bay-like crust was different, but I liked the familiar taste of the spice blend. The coarse salt could have been applied more evenly, however. I got a few bites with no salt.

The other half of the dish was a more traditional tartare, with small chunks of raw tuna in what tasted like a sesame oil marinade. Rounding out the dish were roasted beets in a very light cream sauce, raw almonds and a black and white sesame seed cracker.

All of the dishes at the restaurant are served in the modernist-style, with very small portions and beautiful arrangements. For Marnay’s entrée, she got Rhode Island Sea Scallops with beluga lentils, swiss chard and bacon lardons. The bacon made everything SO deliciously smoky and the large scallops were perfectly seared.

I got the seared duck breast with pickled walnuts, baby greens, pomegranate-quinoa and a cherry dark-chocolate jus. We shared our entrees, each eating about half and were happy with how they came out.

Afterwards, we decided that we had room for dessert. Marnay got a scoop of house made vanilla ice cream, while I opted for a pear liquor. Much to our surprise, the server came out with a chocolate soufflé and crème anglaise! Dessert was incredible and was our favorite part of the meal. The chocolate soufflé with crème anglaise poured in the center may have been my favorite dessert EVER. And the vanilla ice cream had such an intense yet balanced vanilla flavor that I am still thinking about it. Who would have thought, memorable vanilla ice cream!

I want to reserve the last part of this post to talk about how genuinely warm every member of the staff was at the Bartlett Pear Inn. This was a birthday meal that I will not soon forget, and I would go back in a heartbeat next year!

Address
Bartlett Pear Inn: 28 S Harrison St, Easton, MD 21601

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Menomale

On an unseasonably warm Friday night, we dined at Menomale in Brookland. We sat on the restaurant’s sidewalk patio, which can be enclosed but was open on this mild night.
When we first got to the restaurant, we noticed that Ettore, the owner, was there. We watched him the whole time through the window while we sat on the patio. He was so focused, so methodical–we could tell that we were in good hands. Menomale, like Pizzeria Orso, has a VPN certification. For what it’s worth, Menomale got their’s about 2 years before Pizzeria Orso. It takes a strong determination to keep up with all the requirements that come along with making DOC pizzas.

On this warm night, I started the meal out with a Sonoma Anvil Bourbon Cider. The bourbon flavor was interesting, but I found the drink too sweet for my liking. Marnay had a Goose Island Sofie, a saison. Marnay liked it, but wished that it had a little stronger flavor. Neither of us had the Sofie before, and it was a little mild for a Saison.

We were hungry (!), so we started the meal with Prosciutto di Parma e Melone. The prosciutto did not appear to be made in-house, but that did not mean it wasn’t delicious. The salty, nutty meat went perfectly with the slightly cold, sweet cantaloupe. Prosciutto di Parma gets its nutty flavor from the Parmigiano Reggiano whey that is in the pigs’ diets. The dish was served with arugula, grapes and strawberries.

You can’t go to Meomale and not get pizza, so we shared the d’Ettore, or chef’s special. The pizza has fior di latte (cows’ milk mozzarella), cherry tomatoes, arugula, prosciutto di Parma, grana Padano and extra-virgin olive oil. Even though the pizza has a lot going on, it still tasted like one pizza. I can’t say that there was one topping that overpowered the rest. I think that part of this can be attributed to the soft crust on a Neapolitan pizza. New York style pizzas, for example, have lots crust and cheese and are filled with grease whereas Neapolitan pizzas taste cleaner and prevent the toppings from getting lost. Neapolitan pizzas are also healthier than traditional New York pizzas, for the same reasons.

While we were finishing our meal on the patio, it started to pour! Luckily, some employees came and rolled down the windows before we started to get wet. While the rain was unexpected (we didn’t even bother to bring umbrellas), it did not put a damper on our experience. Menomale is a great Neapolitan pizzeria and a very good restaurant overall.

Address
Menomale: 2711 12th St NE, Washington, DC 20018
Closest Metro: either Brookland or Rhode Island Avenue