By Tom Sietsema
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Then: Local boy makes good (2010)
Again: Ambitious, if uneven
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).
Hometown boy Jordan Lloyd and his wife, Alice, introduced the light-filled restaurant and upstairs guest rooms nearly three years ago with an ambitious plan: "I'd like to become the premiere restaurant on the Eastern Shore," Jordan, the chef, said at the time.
Some of his dishes suggest he has reached that goal. One night's Dover sole, expertly filleted at the table, drizzled with brown butter sauce and presented with bright green spinach, could have passed muster in a temple of haute cuisine. The kitchen also knows its way around risotto, which it enhances with black truffles and other mushrooms, and white asparagus, a spring delicacy ennobled with velvety hollandaise.
Other plates restrain the owner's dream. I'm thinking now of the big-eye tuna that was cooked beyond the rare we requested (but was admirable for its peppery heat and fresh English peas) and the bars of steak that had little beyond a sprinkle of sea salt to add flavor.
It's tempting to get another cocktail for dessert from the handsome bar, but if you want something solid, try the silky blueberry panna cotta garnished with a pistachio tuile.
Romantics should request the lone alcove table as their destination, a semiprivate seat near the window overlooking the garden. Bartlett Pear Inn gets a steady dose of charm from the namesake fruit incorporated into the decor (notice the ceramic pears in the entry?) and from the easy professionalism of the staff, which includes the chef in cameo performances in the dining room.