While watching my father get remarried 17 years ago, I never thought that the tiny blonde ring bearer, my cousin Rebecca, would decades later be dragging me miles down a dirt road in Plymouth, Massachusetts to an idyllic restaurant in the woods. The brunch experience we had was what all the cool kids in San Francisco dream of while they wait 2 hours in line for day old NYC bagels. One of all-grown-up Becca's favorites, Rye Tavern is a dream property. Secluded in the woods nearby the Plymouth Plantation (where they dress up in 1700's garb and never break character), its set on a few beautifully maintained acres including both a flower and vegetable garden, outdoor patio, and huge heated outdoor bar. The building is old and stone, cozy with fireplaces and low ceilings, rustic wooden tables dotted with the bright colors from the gardens.
Despite the high class feel, there isn't a bit of pretense to be found in the menu, service, or clientele. Menus are simple, but serve to highlight the quality of the ingredients and skills of the chef Andrew Swain (also cofounder of Lazy Eight Black Tea Vodka) as well as the bar staff that have created a cocktail program that would be at home in any NY or SF restaurant. Its so refreshing after traveling through the midwest to see a back bar not filled with Cupcake Vodka and Fireball, despite the chef's tea vodka having its place. Items like the chorizo omelette with corn, cheddar, and grilled peach are interesting and delicious with balanced flavors and textures. One of my highlights were both soups; a meaty clam chowder featuring a few full belly fried clams as well as the shrimp and chickpea bisque with a bit of fried basil. Both were rich but balanced and again showed the balance of texture that so often falls short in creamy soups.
Another dish worth mentioning is the crispy brussel sprouts. A bowl heaped with crispy leaves hid a quenelle of creamy Gorgonzola and toasted sunflower seeds. After having many underwhelming brussel sprouts dishes during their recent popularity streak, I was grateful for a dish that was more than one note. For my own main, I made the hard choice to forgo the pressed duck wrap with duck meatballs for the more brunch appropriate rock shrimp and spinach hash. An abundance of shrimp were plated along with two beautifully poached eggs and some more of that fantastic Gorgonzola cream, along with wilted spinach and crispy potatoes.
A quick look at the dinner menu and wine list made me excited to return a bit later in the day upon my next visit to take advantage of the warm summer evenings of New England and eat my vegetables in full view of their nursery. An unexpected hit, Rye Tavern was a culinary highlight of my travels so far.