House of Skip

Sunday, August 26, 2012

How to get drunk in St. Michaels, MD (Part Two)

After our lunch at Ava's we stopped by a shop called Candleberry, had an amusing conversation with the shop owner and bought a couple of candles. Having had enough shopping we headed back to the Inn at Perry Cabin. The Inn is beautiful, really intimate space, friendly staff. We thought we might get rain that day, but since we did not, we thought we'd take the opportunity to sit by the pool and relax. We put on our suits and headed out to the pool area. It was a very inviting infinity pool with chaise lounges lining the patio and just our luck there was a bar!

We got comfortable in our lounge chairs, ready to soak up some rays and my companion was off to the bar to scope out drinks. I courageously left the decision in his hands. He came back with a frozen, mango mojito. It was a bright orange color and looked really refreshing and it was. Perfect for a hot day, ice cold, sweet, and minty! We sipped our drinks, took a dip in the pool, basked in the beautiful sun, oh it was wonderful. It was so nice out that when we were done the first drink we thought, ah why not one more? This time I ventured up to the bar, which was a cute caribbean style white building with shutters and an awning, there was seating under the cover of the awning and they did serve small plates out there too. I ordered myself the same drink because I thought it was super yummy but my companion wanted something different. The bartender suggested a frozen margarita, it seems appropriate in this setting so that's what he got. There were three bartenders working back there and they were all very friendly. We enjoyed our second drink and a few more dips in the pool before heading back to our room to rest before dinner (see previous post on Bartlett Pear Inn).

After a nice rest back in our room, we headed into Easton to walk around and maybe get a drink before dinner. When we parked we noticed Bannings Tavern, which was someplace we'd considered for dinner during our pre-vacation research. Since we chose Bartlett Pear instead we thought it was a good idea to stop in there for pre-dinner drinks. Turns out they have a great beer selection, so we were back to beer. It was packed when we walked in and so we were standing at the bar. I ordered an Old Dominion Oak Barrel Stout, it was dark and slightly creamy, but not too heavy. Now if you read Part One of this post, you know that we'd had a lot to drink at this point. So, I don't really recall what my companion started with except that it was a Yards and he had asked the bartender to "give me something you think is good" which he is famous for doing and thinks it's cool, I think it's annoying, but it seems to have worked well for him so far. As we were drinking our first beer, seats opened up and we sat down, a group of nice older gentleman had moved down so we could both sit. We later learned as we sat there longer and talked to the one man that one of the others was the owner and they were all his friends. It was nice to sit and chat with this "local" and learn a little about the area. I had moved on to a lighter beer, though for the life of me I cannot recall what it was. While my companion had begun taking part in something that other bar patrons were doing, he purchased "wooden nickels" and he could turn each one in for a sample size beer, so he really go to try a lot of what they had on tap, but I bet you by now he couldn't tell us what they were.

When it was time for us to head to dinner, we said our goodbyes and strolled down the lovely streets of Easton.

How to get drunk in St. Michaels, MD (Part One)

So, I've told you about some great places to eat in St. Michaels and the surrounding area and I've alluded to our other activities. But let me tell you about some great places to visit in St. Michaels.

Starting our day with breakfast at Sherwood Landing restaurant at our hotel, The Inn at Perry Cabin. The Inn was beautiful, our room, which had a loft was cozy and super cute. A short walk to the patio was the start of a wonderful day. My companion had coffee, but despite my love for coffee, I was really in the mood for tea and so I had a jasmine tea which was incredibly floral and light. There is nothing better than breakfast with a view of the water and as we watched boats come and go we enjoyed a breakfast that would take us through the day. I chose something called the BLT with farm fresh eggs. Bacon, roasted tomatoes and a fried egg on brioche toast. YUM. It was a great breakfast. My companion was feeling sweet and had the bananas foster waffle. What's not to like? A giant delicious waffle topped with bananas, pecans and maple caramel syrup? Oye. He enjoyed every bite.

A nice walk around the grounds followed our leisurely breakfast. We then took a walk up the main street of St. Michaels, Tablot St. We hit a couple of cute gift shops, enjoyed the neighborhood and then stopped by St. Michaels Winery. There tastings are offered in flights, white, red or sweet. I chose red and my companion chose the whites, but we tasted each others so we really got a feel for the wines. The tasting room was pretty busy considering they had just opened and it was only noon. Their whites were pretty good. The reds were ok. We also tried their chocolate zinfandel which sounds really good and has a unique taste, but the chocolate flavor has a little bit of an artificial after taste which I did not like. The tasting room is adorable and their dry wines are pretty good. The woman helping us with our tasting told us that the sweeter wines are big sellers and that they buy the grapes from Welch's! Haha! It's grape juice people! But to each their own.

We left the winery with the intention of hitting some more shops and then having lunch, but got distracted by the big barn like building next door to the winery tasting room. What distracted us? A big sign that simply said, BEER. We stopped, looked at the sign, looked at each other, said "ok" in unison and walked in. I noted on the way in that there was an old fashioned red, British style phone booth outside the entrance so they must be cool. I was not wrong, of course I rarely am :) Just ask my companion! This magical place we had wandered into was Eastern Shore Brewing. Their tasting room was super cool and eclectic, wooden bar, mix of antique Victorian furniture and lounge seating that could have been stolen from Hefner's house.

There was another couple in the room sitting in the lounge area, they had two beautiful dogs with them. My companion and I sat at the bar. The man behind the bar told us that they had 3 beers available to taste and for $5 we could taste those three plus have a second taste of our two favorites of the 3. Sounds good to me. We sat, enjoyed the beers, talked with the bartender and the other couple. The beers were great. We had the St. Michaels Ale that we'd had at St. Michaels Crab and Steak the night before, plus a Magic Hefeweizen, which was indeed magical. Had a creaminess to it but was still somewhat light, I chose it as one of my repeats. Delish. The third beer available was a Belgian Golden Ale and was the highest alcohol content of the three, it was also very good but definitely dangerous if you have too many. Eastern Shore Brewing was impressive, they brew onsite and have a unique tasting room, we were bummed that they do not sell their beer anywhere that we could get it at home. But if you are in the area you can visit them and buy growlers to take home. Once we paid our tab and said good bye to our new friends, we headed back out onto Talbot to seek out lunch (see previous blog about Ava's Wine Bar).

We were having a blast but we weren't done yet. To be continued.....

Friday, August 24, 2012

Bartlett Pear Inn, Easton, MD

After our day of shopping, sitting poolside and drinking we decided for dinner to take a drive back to Easton, MD. We'd heard wonderful things about Bartlett Pear Inn and so we made a reservation before our trip. We arrived a few minutes early and our table was not ready, but we were encouraged to enjoy a drink at the bar. Now, we'd had a wine tasting, a beer tasting, drinks at the pool and a couple beers at nearby Bannings Tavern, but we were on vacation, so more drinks!

The bar at Bartlett Pear Inn was small and cozy, our bartender, Justin, was a true mixologist and we had a great time watching him make drinks and chat with the waitstaff as they came in and out of the bar. I had a lovely peach bellini and my companion had the classic sazerac which was made with rhubarb syrup that made fresh on site. Both were yummy and eventually we were seated at our table.

The Bartlett Pear Inn is quaint, like most things in Easton, situated in an actual Inn which was probably built sometime in the 1700 or 1800s, the rooms were small and had lovely old wood floors and decorative modeling throughout. The menu was equally impressive. We each had a glass of wine, my companion choosing a Sauvigon Blanc since he was ordering seafood and I choose a Malbec to go with my meat dish.

For starters, I had a lovely garlic soup with pork belly and thinly sliced potatoes, while my companion had a nice ceviche. My soup was soft and velvety, the garlic was not overwhelming, but had a nice roasted flavor. You can never go wrong with pork belly, it was crispy and tasty, perfect with the soup.The ceviche was fresh with lots of citrus flavor, judging by my companions reaction I'd say it was good.

We'd had a lot to drink that day and were really looking forward to a good dinner. We were not disappointed by the entrees at Bartlett Pear Inn. I had a delicious beef wellington. It was perfection. Golden pastry crust, perfectly done beef, a wonderful rich wine sauce on top. It was classic and classy, I enjoyed and savored every bite. My companion was equally wow'd by his scallops. How many times can I describe perfect scallops on this blog? Perfect crust on the outside, soft and sweet in the middle, tastes like the sea. Paired with fresh veggies, it was a perfect meal.

What could make this night better? Dessert! If you are a regular reader here at HOS, you know my companion and I do not always eat dessert. Since this was a vacation and we'd had such a great day, we thought, heck let's have some sweets! What a good decision. I had the chocolate tart and my companion had the peach tart. Typical. Both tarts started with a buttery crust, mine was filled with amazing chocolate mousse and topped with silky chocolate ice cream. Heaven. My companion's tart was brimming with fresh, delicious, sweet peaches and topped with vanilla ice cream. There was silence, well maybe a few moans, as we devoured our desserts.

From drinks in the cozy but modern bar to dinner in the quaint, historic dining room this evening at Bartlett Pear Inn was superb. Go there.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ava's Pizzeria and Wine Bar, St. Michaels, MD

After a busy morning of shopping, walking, tasting wine and beer we decided to stop for lunch along beautiful Talbot St in St. Michaels. We wandered into Ava's Pizzeria and Wine Bar and were seated at a nice high top table in the bar near a window looking out onto the street.

We'd just visited the lovely folks at St. Michaels Winery and Eastern Shore Brewing. We were definitely in the mood for some lunch and why not some more wine? My companion ordered a glass of Zinfandel and I decided to try their house made red sangria. We decided to split a salad and a pizza for our little lunch. We went with the market salad, which is their "salad of the day" on that day it was fresh sliced heirloom tomatoes and mozzarella with basil. It was super fresh, the tomatoes were so awesome and refreshing and I think you can never go wrong combining basil and mozzarella. For our pizza, we ordered the Margarita (more basil!) and got two topping, bacon and kalamata olives, yum! The sauce on the pizza was fresh and very tasty, just a little tang to it, the bacon and olives were my companions idea but he was not wrong, they were a winning combination.

We had a delicious, relaxing lunch at Ava's and were ready for a little more shopping and maybe a little time at the pool.

Monday, August 20, 2012

St. Michael's Crab and Steak, St. Michaels, MD

After a tough round at River Marsh, we were sweaty and tired and in need of nourishment. After checking in at the adorable Inn at Perry Cabin, we showered, changed and ventured out to St. Michaels Crab and Steak. We sat outside, right near the water at an old style wooden picnic table.

We started off with a local beer, St. Michael's Ale which is made by Eastern Shore Brewing, we visited them the next day too. The beer was great, light, refreshing, a nice way to start our meal. We continued with a dozen oysters, horseradish, cocktail sauce, yum. They were so fresh. I'm still new to oysters and after a few the sliminess can get to me, but my companion had no problem putting away the rest of them!

For entrees I got the broiled scallops and my companion got soft shell crab, he was quite surprised when he was given the choice of fried or sauteed, usually they are just fried. The waitress said she liked them better sauteed so he gave it a try. We also got the choice of two sides with our entrees, I had brussel sprouts and sweet potato fries, my companion had apple sauce and sweet potato fries. We also moved on to mixed drinks with our entrees, we tried something called the grapefruit crush, which was grapefruit juice, Absolut Ruby Red, triple sec and a splash of sprite, it was tart, refreshing and the perfect sipping drink for an outdoor summer dinner.

We really enjoyed our entrees, my scallops were great, sweet, nice crust on the outside from the broiler. The brussel sprouts were good too and the sweet potato fries, well, how can you really go wrong with sweet potato fries? They were sweet and salty, crunchy on the outside soft in the middle. My companion loved the sauteed soft shell crab, he agreed with the waitress, much better than fried, you taste more of the crab without all the breading that comes with frying. All in all, we were happy and ready to head back to Perry's Cabin to relax.

So far we were really enjoying St. Michaels and I couldn't wait to get up the next day and check out all the shops! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Out of the Fire- Easton, MD

After a quick and easy drive from our home in Central Jersey to the beautiful Eastern Shore of Maryland, my companion and I needed some lunch before hitting the links at River Marsh.

We drove into quaint Easton, the streets lined with shops and pubs that all were so cute. We had a lovely lunch at Out of the Fire, a cute bistro with a huge brick oven. Despite the wonderful smell coming from the oven we did not get any of their pizzas, we just were not in the mood for that. But we did have a delicious lunch.

Out of the Fire has a nice decor and attentive staff. Our waiter was quiet and very professional. I had the Out of the Fire Cobb Salad which was served over a bed of greens and had chicken confit, bacon, granny smith apples and Gorgonzola. It was incredible. The chicken was tender and juicy, had a little smoke to it. The apples added a little crisp tartness and was refreshing in contrast to the smokey bacon. The cheese gave it just a little tang. They served it with a balsamic vinaigrette it was the perfect amount, it was not swimming in dressing.

My companion chose the mussels. A giant bowl of mussels arrived at our table and the smell wafting from them was amazing. The tomato broth had garlic and capers and was really great. The mussels were also very big, we'd never seen mussels that size, my companion was quite happy. Judging form the smell and all the action coming from the open kitchen, I'd say you can't go wrong with anything on the menu.

Don't forget to hit a couple of shops too!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Red's Lobster Pot, Point Pleasant Beach

When looking for a great place to eat fresh seafood, outdoors, "down the shore", I kept coming across reviews for Red's Lobster Pot in Point Pleasant Beach. Between all my usual "research" sites I found there were mixed reviews, but I know from experience, there is only one way to know the truth and that is to check it out for myself.

So, on a Friday night, I gathered up my dining companion and traveled to Point Pleasant. We winded down Inlet Drive, along the dock where all the fishing boats come in and out of and across from the Coast Guard Station is little Red's Lobster Pot. It is pretty small and has a small lot, but there is plenty of parking nearby (that you have to pay for at the pay stations). Usually there is someone outside to help direct the parking in their tiny lot, but he just happened to not be there when we drove by, so we parked in a nearby public lot.

Red's is pretty much a shack. You walk onto the patio and can go up the stairs and into the indoor dining room or you can step into the line for the outside patio order window and place your order and find a seat at one of the tables on the patio. If you are smart like my dining companion and I are, you look at the menu, then divide and conquer. I stayed in line to order our food and my companion got us a good table by the water and scouted out cups for us to drink our wine from. Red's is BYOB which is always a plus for us. I am not sure there is a better way to spend a summer night than drinking white wine outside while eating fresh seafood and looking out over the water that said seafood came from. Red's will also make your wine into sangria for $10, we just drank ours as is.

Now, I mentioned finding mixed reviews online. So, some of the reviews claimed the patio was dirty, not so, it was very clean for an outdoor seating area and we saw several workers who constantly scrambled to wipe down tables and chairs and clear garbage as soon as a table opened up. Many of the poor reviews talked about the indoor dining experience, now I cannot comment on that directly since we were outside, but I have friends who dined inside once and to quote them directly, they were "underwhelmed". The dining room is very small, so I can imagine the atmosphere is much different, also the inside and outside have different menus.

I thought the outdoor menu was great. Upon stepping up to the order window, the kitchen was visible and clean and smelled phenomenal. We ordered 1 dozen pick and peel shrimp, a 1/2 dozen steamed clams and two entrees from the special of the day menu. I had grilled swordfish with a fruit salsa and my companion had soft shell crab. Both entrees come with fries and coleslaw. After ordering at the window you give them your name and they call you when your order is ready. So my companion and I sat, sipped wine and admired the view and in a short while they called my name and he went to retrieve the first part of our order. Not long after that the rest of our order was ready. Your food is handed to you on a plastic, cafeteria type tray. The shrimp were amazing! They were large and fresh and tasted so good, we easily devoured the dozen. The clams were OK, my companion liked them a lot but I was on the fence, they were rather large and that made them kind of chewy, it may just be my personal preference for smaller clams as they are not my favorite shellfish. The entrees were great. The swordfish was grilled perfectly, nice grill marks and flavor, the fresh fruit salsa was great, mango, pineapple, cilantro, a little spice went great with the fish. They give you a mound of fries and if you love fries like we do, you'll love the fries at Red's they are hand cut and fresh. My companion despises all things with mayo, so no coleslaw for him, but I thought it was good, how can you mess that up?

They also serve whole steamed lobsters which we did not order, but saw other people getting and they looked really good. Menu lists market price, but I am sure it is cheaper than ordering at any other place, they come right off the boats docked next to Red's. I think it's worth a return visit to check that out, oh what I do in the name of research.... :)

The other complaint I saw in other online reviews was the price. Let's talk about a couple things here, is this five star fine dining? No. It's picnic tables and plastic chairs on a patio next to the fishing dock. You will not be served by a waiter or drink out of glasses, you will order at a window wait for your food and drink your wine out of plastic cups. Do I like fine dining, yes on occasion. But I also love great food and adventure, Red's has both. We got two fresh seafood appetizers and two great, fresh, seafood entrees for just under $80, I don't think that is unreasonable. If you ordered the same food in a high end establishment where you had a waiter, sommelier, bus boys, etc and could not bring your own wine you'd pay double that at least.

To me, Red's defines summer in Jersey, simple, fresh seafood, outdoors, drinking and enjoying the summer breeze at the shore.

If you want to check out Red's I suggest eating outside, but as usual, I always say judge for yourself so if you want to check out the indoor dining, please do and let me know how it was, or if you've dined indoors at Red's and had a good experience, please share that too!