Archive for category Pub

42 Degrees North, Manomet

IMG_20140710_215322_077Hooray!  Gina and the Big Dog have sniffed out yet another great place to dine in our area.

We arrived at 42 Degrees North, on Route 3A in Plymouth, on a warm summer evening to find the snazzy outdoor bar packed with patrons.  We spotted a couple of seats but found them marked with cell phones, the new universal symbol for “I’m still here.”  So we trudged indoors to the empty bar and nearly empty restaurant, and were glad we did.  There, we got the full attention of our affable bartender, Brooke, and learned lots of things.

For example, 42 Degrees North is part of a family of restaurants that include two more located further up the South Shore area than we typically venture.  They have a fishmonger who delivers a catch of the day and the kitchen is never sure what it’s going to be.  They change their menu seasonally, and what we had before us was pretty new.

And very impressive.

The Big Dog spotted oysters on the menu and Brooke sped off to learn that they were, in fact, the product of our friends at Big Rock Oysters in Harwich.  He ordered four ($2.50 apiece) and liked them a lot — they were meaty and characteristically briny, and were served with cocktail sauce and an interesting citrusy mignonette.

The wedge salad ($8.95) caught our eye and we split it. A hunk of iceberg came draped with two slabs of bacon in an odd presentation that tasted better than it looked.  It came with a quartered tomato and more bleu cheese dressing than any two people should ever eat at one sitting.

Gina ordered the paella ($21.95), which is an excellent choice for people having trouble making a decision.  A big bowl of rice, yellow with saffron and rich with little chunks of tasso ham, was loaded with steamed clams and mussels, just-cooked scallops, peas, peppers, and perfect little shrimp without the annoying tail shells that restaurants so often leave on. It was a hearty and tasty dish.

The Big Dog ordered the grilled lamb sirloin (also $21.95, which is about the average for the 18 very diverse entrees). The lamb was cut into pieces and served with a demiglace and a rosemary branch. He ordered it medium well and concluded that medium would have worked for this preparation, but enjoyed it.

The lamb was served with a side of quinoa laced with goat cheese that was good enough to try replicating in The Dog House some day. The crunchy little quinoas were bathed in a goat cheese sauce, with some asparagus and portabello mushrooms tucked inside.

To our dismay, we found ourselves faced with a very appealing dessert menu and were forced to endure the bread pudding ($6.95).  Brooke told us that dollop of ice cream was house-made cinnamon, and that alone would be enough to bring us back to 42 Degrees North. We rarely order dessert (yes, you’ve heard that before) and this enormous, delicious, and creative dish will be difficult to top. No perfunctory BJ’s cheesecake here — the desserts are definitely given plenty of attention in the kitchen.

Throughout the evening, Gina sipped a Clayhouse cabernet sauvignon, and the Big Dog chose a Josh cab (each $9 per glass). When there’s a good selection of wines, we typically try each other’s and often make a trade, but not so this time — we each preferred the wine we had ordered.

This dinner was more expensive than our norm (about $70 plus wine and tip), and despite the large volume of food we brought home no leftovers. But the high quality food, excellent service, and attractive surroundings made it feel like a great value, and we highly recommend 42 Degrees North.

42 Degrees North
690 State Road, Manomet

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The Pour Farm Tavern, New Bedford

2014-06-29 16.53.02We loved our lunch at the Pour Farm Tavern.

We realize that at night, when the restaurant is likely more focused on music or beer, dining may be less of a priority.  But on a Sunday afternoon, we were treated to one of the best meals we’ve had in New Bedford.

The Big Dog tried a couple of samples eagerly offered by our bartender, Donna, from among approximately one billion beer choices, and ended up with a Green Flash IPA draft ($6).  Gina’s cabernet, conversely, was from the Walmart of wine ($5.50) and unremarkable.

We started with the falafel salad ($7.95). We received an oversized square plate with a dollop of hummus in one corner, a pile of chopped tomatoes in another, crisp and tasty sliced falafal pieces in a third, and in the fourth corner, the world’s most delicious creamy cucumber and dill dressing. Amid it all were giant hunks of hearty mixed greens, topped with a couple of pita triangles.  The Big Dog turned his share into little sandwiches, bravely trying the falafel, which he’s disliked in the past.  He liked this version.

For lunch, the Big Dog ordered the special whose announcement on a sidewalk sandwich board drew us there in the first place: a lobster BLT ($15.95). Framed within grilled sourdough bread, topped with artisanal greens, the yummy sandwich came with sweet potato fries.

Gina turned to the regular menu and selected the BBQ Sampler (a steal at $15).  It included a half rack of baby back ribs, a little bowl of pulled pork, slabs of beef brisket, and tasty cole slaw.  Remnants of the huge portion was just as delicious the next day.

During our Sunday afternoon visit, the small but eclectic crowd that included a fisherman, a college student with her parents, and a handful of 20-somethings, was charmed by or servers’ equally eclectic jukebox selections, recorded long before anyone but Gina and the Dog were born.

The Pour Farm Tavern includes an outdoor dining area in a spacious and shady alley.  Inside, the decor is definitely 1970s Dorm Room, right down to the Led Zeppelin posters and vaguely foreign flags. We’re pretty sure no one goes there for the decor, and we suspect that few go for the food.  But that’s a mistake — the food is delicious, and you’re certain to enjoy it.

The Pour Farm Tavern
780 Purchase Street, New Bedford

 

 

 

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Aroma Tavern and Grill, Manomet

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If you find yourself on State Road (Route 3A) in the Manomet section of Plymouth, we recommend making a stop at Aroma Tavern and Grill.  The food is good, prices are reasonable, service is friendly, the atmosphere is comfortable, the selection is broad, and the staff accommodated special requests.

You can’t ask for much more than that from a pub nestled into a suburban strip mall.  Yes, you can ask for a slightly less kitchy decor.  You can ask for sea scallops on your scallop roll, instead of bay scallops. You can ask for the restaurant to reduce the number of special menus — we had four menus apiece, and that was silly.  That’s really the best we can do for criticism.  In fact, we liked the place so much that after a recent lunch in the dining room with friends, we went back inside to check out the bar, which is where we would normally dine.

Inspired by N., who was enjoying a Cranberry Flower Martini ($8.50) when we arrived, the Big Dog ordered a Raspberry Truffle Martini ($10).  Good enough to order two, but not necessarily a good lunch accompaniment.  Spotting an Argento Malbec ($7), Gina didn’t have to think twice.  T. had a Blue Moon beer ($4.50 for a 16-ounce draft).

Feeling assaulted by all those menus, we decided to start with a couple of intriguing-sounding appetizers from among the regular lunch selections.  Potato-crusted calamari ($9), served with orange chipotle mayonnaise, and lobster mac and cheese ($13), served in a little crock, were possibly our best choices of the day.  Both were delicious and there was plenty to share.  As server Karen promised, the potato flour made the calamari batter airy without a potato-y taste.  Nearly every bite of the mac and cheese contained a piece of lobster.

The Big Dog chose a “Power Lunch” from menu #3, a selection of soup-salad-sandwich arrangements for $10.  His choices were the aforementioned scallop roll, which he found disappointing because of the bay scallops, a good little caesar salad, and a very good bowl of chowder.

Although the roasted beet and goat cheese salad craze has abated, Gina still orders them whenever she sees them, and this one ($8) was good, with thick slices of beets.  She added a lobster roll ($12), which was kind of chewy (but seriously, isn’t lobster always kind of chewy?).  The dish ordinarily comes with fries, but Gina requested a substitution and chose a baked potato from among the starches, then disruptively asked for an order of good sauteed vegetables instead, and both the vegetables (mostly cauliflower and zucchini) and the potato arrived, with none of your irritating “upcharges.”  Lest you think we’re total pigs, we brought most of the sides home.

N and T ordered London broil ($14) and steak tips ($15) and approved of each, saying that they had been cooked properly rare as they requested.

Our round booth in the back of the restaurant, opposite a gas fire, was comfortable, but the focus here seems to be on the bright and pleasant bar, where at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon, hightop tables were already filling up with regulars. Our colleague Joan, whose family summers nearby, recommended the place, and we could easily imagine vacationers and beachgoers packing the place on a summer evening.

Aroma Tavern and Grille
739 State Road (Route 3a), Manomet
aromatavernandgrill.com

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The Bog Pub, Pocassett

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A while back, we dined with some friends at a spot on MacArthur Boulevard called Cranberry’s Restaurant.  As you can see from our review, posted here, we were kind of surprised by the casual atmosphere and service, and thought we would be less confused if we wore jeans and hoodies and sat at the bar, then called The Bog Pub.

So, here we are, wearing sweatshirts and Levis, and we’re still a little confused.

The bar is still called The Bog Pub, but apparently so is the restaurant.  Nowadays, the whole place offers six entrees and a special, and the rest of the menu consists of interesting sandwiches, soups and salads, and a section called “small plates.”  The price and complexity of these items makes them sound like tapas, but our server read us two specials and called them “appetizers.”  Turns out that the “small plates” are quite large, but the portions on them are very small. That’s not to say you’ll stop at Burger King on your way home, but you definitely won’t go waddling out with a doggie bag, either. We hate to sound school-marmish about the language, but after a while, the occasional imprecise slip-up becomes a consistent theme.

Okay, rant concluded.  Now for the review: Get what we got, and you’ll be pretty happy with The Bog Pub, or whatever it’s called.  A tapas approach, with two small plates apiece, would be a filling meal of high quality and an excellent value by any measure.

The relatively diverse wine list included something we never see in these parts: wine on tap, which bartender Courtney said keeps the wine fresher.  Gina chose a Pacific Cabernet ($8), and not only was it darned good, but it was the least expensive offering.  The Big Dog got a Lehman Shiraz ($9).  We liked our selections enough that we didn’t wish we’d tried flights, three 3-ounce pours available for $12.

After a long day, we only had the energy to share two small plates.

Gina’s pick was the pan seared duck livers ($9, shown in the terrible photo above). It was served on a bed of creamy polenta with a moat of “smoked gravy.” “Tastes smoky!” observed the Big Dog. The livers were crisp and flavorful, the polenta rich, and the tangle of microgreens intriguing. It was one of the most delicious dishes we’ve gotten in recent months.

The Big Dog selected cod croquettes.  In retrospect, we were both probably expecting something like codfish cakes, leaden and squishy.  Instead, we got a plate of fishy little poufs, crisp on the outside and moist on the inside, and yummy with the remoulade dipping sauce.

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British Beer Company, Sandwich

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British Beer Company is a “chain” of 13 pubs, mostly in southeastern Massachusetts, that seeks to replicate the experience provided by a small town pub in Great Britain. We have no first-hand experience with the original concept, but a countryside dotted with BBCs seems like a pretty good idea.  We got a look at two of BBCs restaurants on one recent night, and they’re both pleasantly warm and inviting, with decor that emphasizes rough-hewn wood… and beer.

BBC offers a very large selection of draft beers, ranging from the industrial brewery Kings of Beers that people inexplicably like so much, to obscure craft brews, including the IPA from our friends nearby at Mayflower Brewing.

We stopped first at the BBC in Manomet, a neighborhood in south Plymouth, on a Sunday night, hoping for a seat at the bar to watch the Brooklyn Nets with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnet in their ultimately triumphant return to the Boston Celtics’ storied parquet floor. The bar was full and the TVs were tuned to some obscure Atlantic 10 college basketball re-run.  Fortunately, there’s another BBC right down the road, so we moved on.

Being on the Cape Cod side of the Canal, the BBC in Sandwich is far more mellow in the winter than it likely is during the summer, and probably more mellow than Plymouth is year-round.  We easily found a spot at the bar, whose only other occupants were a young couple on a first date, which we surmised because the woman’s unbearably annoying laugh would likely preclude a second encounter.

Our pleasant but brisk bartender, Sunny, offered us a taste of some fancy cabernet, but Gina opted instead for the house (Avalon, $7), in part because the sample was overpowered by the odor of chlorine in the glass. The Big Dog spotted one of those little spoons that signifies the possibility of a black and tan, and got a muddled version ($6.50).

We started with an order of Andouille Scotch Eggs ($8.99).  We’d never had any Scotch eggs before, and the basic premise, involving soft-boiled eggs baked in a crust, made Gina squeamish.  But these were outstanding.  The Andouille sausage made for a flavorful coating, the eggs were lightly cooked but not runny, and the presentation was nice.

The Big Dog ordered a steak and ale pie ($13.99, pictured above) as his entree. It came with a sauteed zucchini and carrot medley that was delicious unless you have an irrational dislike for green summer squash, and mashed potatoes.  The crust was heavy and the Dog characterized the gravy inside the pie as “overbearing,” and the steak inside was overcooked.  But we’re both Irish enough to know that this is probably just how people in the Old Country like it.

Gina ordered a mahi mahi dish ($16.99) off the full page of “gluten friendly” offerings. While the dish was delicious — moist fish topped with a piquant mango pico, with jasmine rice and approximately seven green beans — the order was apparently so confusing that the kitchen cooked something else entirely then discarded it before starting in on the proper order.  We didn’t take note of the time and weren’t in a hurry, but the result was definitely a complimentary-dessert-grade delay, if not handwringing apology from the manager.  Here, nothing.

There was enough positive about our visit to the British Beer Company to ensure our return, not just to Sandwich but also to Plymouth.  The prices were very reasonable, portions large, food pretty good, and the atmosphere was comfortable. Maybe we just need to recalibrate our expectations before we go.

British Beer Company
46 Route 6a, Sandwich
www.britishbeer.com

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Not Your Average Joe’s, Dartmouth

2013-12-05 14.00.06Confession time: Gina and the Big Dog have been holding out on you.  We’ve been telling you about all these great restaurants in the Southcoast region, but not about the one near the very top of our list.

We love Not Your Average Joe’s, a small regional chain whose closest restaurant to us is on Route 6 in Dartmouth. We go there whenever we find ourselves west of New Bedford.  Or north of New Bedford.  Or near New Bedford.  We bought a Jeep from a dealership across the street, only because we could envision long delicious lunches while we waited for oil changes.

Last summer we managed to convince ourselves that Route 6 in Dartmouth was on the way to Foxborough (it is not) so we could stop for lunch on our way to the Patriots’ training camp. Let’s do a review! we exclaimed.  This is delicious! we raved.  What a wonderful spot! we enthused.

But for you… nothing. No commentary on cilantro-laced corn garnish, no photos of succulent scallops. Frankly, here’s the problem: we don’t want any more competition for a seat at the comfortable bar. But we do feel kinda bad about holding out, so here are reparations.

Not Your Average Joe’s is a wide open space, from dining room through bar area and into the kitchen. Clever Southwestern-inspired decor makes it work, and even at a crowded happy hour, conversation is comfortable. The center of the bar provides an entertaining view of the pizza prep area and wood-fired oven.

Our most recent visit was for a late lunch on a cold and drizzly day, and we were pleased to see that the menu had changed subtly with the season. Gone were the sunny avocado slices, replaced by warming butternut chunks.

With a basket of delicious chunky bread served with a peppery parmesan oil, we dove into a bottle of Clos du Bois cabernet ($30),  a bottle we like enough to buy for evenings in The Doghouse.

The Big Dog ordered a Backyard Burger ($9.99) with cheese, and yes, it tasted like something that might have come out of our Weber, but for the accoutrements — a gleaming soft bun, a sliver of pickle, a soupcon of mustard. He choose greens as an accompaniment in lieu of fries and earned an entire pint of salted caramel ice cream points, redeemed later at home. The burger was perfectly cooked and delicious.

Gina started with a Not Your Average Salad, $3,99 with entree: a melange of young greens with the unexpected addition of hunks of blue cheese and blobs of dried tomatoes in oil. Love either and you’re in heaven.  Hate both, like Gina does, and you’re still extremely happy with the remaining fresh salad.

For an entree, Gina picked the chicken enchiladas ($11.99).  Two rolled corn tortillas arrived atop yellow rice with black beans, and under an outstanding herb-y poblano crema sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. The enchiladas were meaty and delicious throughout, but each roll’s crunchy end was particularly delightful.

The folks next to us at the bar ordered what we’re guessing was the raspberry sorbet ($6.99, like all desserts) and we apologize for not being able to take a photo of the beautiful presentation, for fear of seeming totally creepy.  Take our word for it — the dessert was surrounded by piles of fresh fruit and poufs of whipped cream and looked outstanding.

So, to summarize: the food’s okay, the atmosphere is okay, and you probably shouldn’t go here.  Especially when Gina and the Big Dog have a reason to be in Dartmouth, or anywhere near there.

Not Your Average Joe’s
61 State Road, North Dartmouth
www.notyouraveragejoes.com

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New World Tavern, Plymouth

DSCF1518_HDR-300x194Here in the Dog House we have a policy: If you can’t say anything nice about a restaurant, don’t write a review.

Such was the case a few years back when we visited the New World Tavern. We ordered a couple of classic pub dishes — a Middle Eastern sampler and chicken wings — and found them to be so tampered-with as to be unrecognizable, and terrible. We’ve blocked out the details, but it was something like hummus made with butternut squash instead of chick peas, garnished with peppermint sticks.  Something like that.

But during a recent visit to the Waterfront Grille in New Bedford, Brenna, our enthusiastic bartender, told us a new chef has dramatically improved the food at the New World Tavern.  The context was that we should stop by the Pillory Pub at the Plymouth waterfront sometime before it closes for the season on December 1, because she works there nights and it’s a cool spot, then head up the hill to the New World Tavern for dinner.  Her perspective was a combination of restaurant insider and Chamber of Commerce pitchperson, and we were sold.

So with no other plans for a chilly Saturday evening, we headed over to Plymouth’s waterfront. The Pub is across the street from the state park that houses the famous rock and the Mayflower II, and its expanse of open windows is probably a great vantage point for people-watching on a warm summer evening. Approaching the Pub with November winds whistling across the harbor, we were a little alarmed to see the accordion windows peeled back to expose patrons huddled in blankets.  The heat is well managed inside, though, and Brenna served up a Mayflower IPA on tap for the Big Dog and a 14 Hands cabernet for Gina.

We walked up North Street to Court Street to find the New World Tavern packed with people, but with minimal effort we slid into a tall cafe table next to six 20-somethings who were out on the town, and listened for a while to Tom Fey singing folksy music and accompanying himself on a guitar.

The beer is the star of the show here, and the New World Tavern touts its 32 beers on tap and 120 bottles.  The Big Dog chose Mayflower’s seasonal, Thanksgiving Ale, and while Kelly our server clearly thought that was a good choice, the Dog found it surprisingly more like a stout and less hoppy than his usual IPA.  Gina ordered serviceable cabernet.

The Big Dog ordered a chicken proscuitto sandwich ($12), a salty concoction served on a ciabatta roll, with the slab of proscuitto topped with asiago and a big pile of arrugula.  We liked it, and liked the crisp waffle fries that came with it.

Gina is on a quest to find the best fish tacos in New England, and wasn’t disappointed here.  Nuggets of fried fish were served with a fresh tomato salsa and topped with a tangy buttermilk sauce.  For $14 it was a fairly generous portion of three flour tortillas strung together on a skewer. The menu mentions pineapple and salsa verde, both of which, if present at all, were very subtle.  The tacos were very good.

As we ate, crowds were streaming in to see The Sleepeaters in the back room, an intimate venue with a second bar.  Up front, we could hear the band open with the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers,” but the volume didn’t preclude normal conversation.

Brenna was right about the New World Tavern, and on our way back to the car we stopped in to tell her so. The menu is weighted towards pub specialties that pair well with beer — pizzettas and burgers each have their own section — with some interesting surprises, like braised rabbit, that we’ll have to return and try.  But it was also clear that the days of freeform experimentation are gone.  The experience was enough to make us rethink our rule, to say: If you can’t say anything nice about a restaurant, give it another try.

New World Tavern
56 Main Street, Plym0uth, MA
thenewworldtavern.com

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Inn on Shipyard Park, Mattapoisett

2013-04-23 14.43.55We hardly ever dine at the standard times.  The Big Dog is usually working at what others would consider lunch and dinner time, and it just seems weird to be in from the sunshine at noon.  The downside to our approach is that we don’t necessarily observe how the waitstaff handles a busy room, and in the case of the Inn on Shipyard Park, our midafternoon lunch/dinner meant we probably missed a rollicking crowd.  But what we got was the full attention of Tom, the pleasant bartender, and the skilled kitchen.

You may remember the Inn on Shipyard Park as the Kinsale Inn, an old-timey pub in Mattapoisett’s quaint downtown overlooking the charming Mattapoisett Harbor. They describe themselves as “the oldest seaside inn in the nation,” but the fact is, when you’re deep inside this rustic restaurant, you might as well be in Scottsdale for all the seaside you see.

But so what.  We sat at the bar and watched ESPN, and had one of the best late lunches we’ve enjoyed in a long time.

We started with lobster egg rolls ($12).  There was the expected kvetching about what the menu called “fresh curry mango chutney” but which tasted like mayonnaise mixed with pineapple juice.  We didn’t really care, because the egg rolls were so delicious on their own — crunchy on the outside and meltingly moist on the inside. We think the stuffing was simply cooked julienned carrots and cabbage with enough lobster to get some in every sumptuous bite, without an overwhelming lobster flavor.

With the egg rolls behind us and full glasses of Mayflower Seasonal (Spring Hops) and 14 Hands Cabernet, debate ensued.  This is not a good menu for those who find decision-making difficult.  Through one half-hour segment of SportsCenter, we came up with dozens of appealing combinations, but finally settled on a cobb salad ($12) for her, and “savory meatloaf” ($11) for him, the latter because of a promise of green beans which never materialized.

In their place was a heavenly melange of flavorful summer squashes and red peppers.  The meatloaf was mousselike in its lightness, grounded with dollops of gravy. A hearty scoop of mashed potatoes shared the gravy and a dusting of flavorful dried herbs, maybe parsley.

The cobb salad was simply the best we’ve had.  The base was spinach.  The toppings included a half avocado, a hard-boiled egg, grilled corn that was a tad spongy in April, nearly half a cup of bacon hunks, some bleu cheese, and halved cherry tomatoes.  The garnish was a generous serving of grilled chicken slices.  This was the kind of salad that makes one wonder why one can’t lose any weight.  In fact, there was so much that we brought half the salad home for our “Dog House” dinner.

In all, The Inn is somewhere that we will frequent throughout this next summer season.  Looking forward to sharing the experience with friends who we know will enjoy it as we did.

Inn on Shipyard Park
13 Water Street, Mattap0isett, MA
www.theinnonshipyardpark.com

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Rye Tavern, Plymouth, MA

2013-03-28 19.01.56The Rye Tavern is located on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere.  The sooner you get over that, and stop worrying about running out of gas or being eaten by bears, the better off you will be.

The structure was built in 1797 and presumably at that time it was on a busy thoroughfare.  Today, one dirt entrance takes you past the golf course community known as The Pinehills, and the other brings you in through bucolic horse farms. These are neighbors who think nothing of shelling out 45 bucks for a bottle of Cabernet, as the folks next to us at the bar did.  That’s pretty pricey for us canines, but not inconsistent for the menu.

That said, our total before tip, for two appetizers, two entrees, and a bottle of La Fiera Montepulciano ($25), came to just $91.  Not bad for an excellent, ample dinner of fresh ingredients, as local as the bitter March winds would allow, prepared at the direction of an expert chef.  We happened to be on duty for the first night of a new menu, and we had difficulty making choices.

Our mild red wine arrived alongside a bread basket that the Big Dog thought was the highlight of the dinner — a sweet, cakelike cinnamon bread and an oatmeal bread that probably contained something like pumpkin.

But surely the actual highlight was the carrot and ginger soup  ($7) that the Dog ordered as an appetizer.  Topped with a dollop of brie and sprinkled with chopped chives, the puree was thick enough to eat with a fork.  The sweet carrots were edged out by the spicy ginger in a concoction that transcended the traditional combination.

But no!  The real highlight was Gina’s crispy brussels sprout appetizer ($6).  Braised sprout leaves fluttered around a puddle of lemon aioli, anchored by meaty sprout halves and sprinkled with teeny candied sunflower seeds.  Kathleen, our able bartender, said a previous seasonal menu had omitted the sprouts appetizer, and regulars were very unhappy.

If our entree selections were any indication, Chef Joanna Farrar’s M.O. is to mix the vegetables and starch together, plate it over a ladle of sauce, position the protein on top, and garnish the dish with something interesting. For people who use a divided dish into adulthood, this is a disconcerting approach, but some of us like it. The Big Dog is on the fence about it, and this affected his view of dinner.

He ordered scallops ($23).  Five large scallops were seared to a mahogany color while maintaining their juicy interior.  The ladle was a rich balsamic glaze.  The veggie/starch mix was quinoa, tomatoes, and olives. The garnish was arrugula in a lemony dressing. Despite the Dog’s reservations about quinoa, apparently an acquired taste or texture, there was nothing left to bring home.

Gina’s dish ($25) was a mix of couscous, mushrooms, and peas, topped by two generous and juicy slabs of swordfish, garnished with a bright salsa verde and a scoop of house-made ricotta.  She ultimately agreed with the Dog that the combination of everything was overwhelming, but the Divided Dish gene she inherited, along with the ability to separate ingredients with a fork or knife, revealed the individual elements as delicious.

Now, to offset our whining about the bumpy, bear-lined roads, we should mention one feature that will bring us back, and two others that are really cool.  We will definitely find our way back to the Tavern to sit outside on the heated patio around a gas fire.  The country setting and charming landscape would make this a great spot for outdoor dining or just a gruner veltliner on a summer night. A secondary feature is what they describe as a 2,100 square foot vegetable garden.  And finally, imagine wending your way through a two-century-old tavern, complete with what appear to be original features, into a nicely appointed restrooms complete with wooden sinks.  No kidding!  They’re new, and they’re beautiful.

Plymouth is full of odd antiquities, and here is one that is well off the beaten path — and well worth visiting.  We envy the folks for whom this is a neighborhood tavern.

Rye Tavern
517 Old Sandwich Road, Plymouth
www.ryetavern.com

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Bittersweet Farm Tavern, Westport, MA

20130216_172925On a snowy winter night, there’s little more welcoming than a basement tavern with a roaring fireplace, dark wood decor, an attentive bartender, the soft murmur of quiet conversations, and excellent food.

Bittersweet Farm Tavern comes close to all that.  On our first visit recently, we enjoyed a very good meal.  The soft murmur was somewhat marred by the hubbub of a large party preparing for an event upstairs, and by a howling baby.  The bartender may ordinarily have been attentive, but was distracted by computer problems.

But we would have to be pretty cranky to let those details spoil our evening.  The food was well prepared using fresh-tasting ingredients, and the varied menu enabled each of us to choose our go-to favorites, the dishes we’re always happy to be able to order and about which we consider ourselves to be near-expert. We had a very enjoyable dinner for $100, including tip, with thanks to the Big Dog’s sister Kelly and her family for the Christmas gift certificate that got us out there in the first place.

The Big Dog started with an order of a half dozen oysters.  The bartender gave him a choice of Cuttyhunks and Sakonnets and the Dog opted for three of each, to compare.  They were easy to tell apart: the Sakonnets were smaller, sweeter, and maintained their delicate mollusk shape, definitely recommended if you ever get the chance.

Next up: two house salads, a medley of fresh mixed greens and other vegetables, with an excellent balsamic dressing.

The Big Dog ordered fish and chips, shown above, and said it was an excellent rendition, with perfect chunky cole slaw in a clever romaine bowl, and really good fish.  Very fresh and very delicious, with a light batter.  Those big flat fries are rarely any good, and the Dog would likely order something else next time to avoid them.

Gina’s choice was bernaise sauce. It happened to come with a bacon-wrapped filet, but the sauce was just as good on the accompanying broccoli, baked potato, and fork.

The menu at Bittersweet Farm is really quite impressive, with such a range of dishes that it’s difficult to choose.  All the more reason to return.

Bittersweet Farm
438 Main Road, Westport MA
www.bittersweetfarm.com

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