Tavern with a Twist - Rye tavern captures a cozy cabin feel with upscale farm-to-table inspired dishes
When the air begins to chill on the South Shore, a craving for comfort arrives. The warmth of a crackling fire, the warmth of homemade meals, and sharing laughs and merriment around the dinner table — this kind of coziness is almost a winter necessity. Nestled in Plymouth’s Pinehills community, the new Rye Tavern holds the right amount of charm, intimacy, and flavor to satisfy that hankering for comfort.
On a brisk evening, a close friend and I stepped inside the old tavern that long ago served as a carriage stop. Immediately, we are drawn to its old-fashioned feel. A smiling hostess greeted us from behind a primitive wooden stand, which I later found out was constructed from original wood leftover after building renovations. Under the ownership of Dramshop Hospitality (owners of Regal Beagle and Church in Boston, and Union Fish Seafood in Plymouth) the idea of sustainable dining is present in every part of the restaurant.
Still intact are the wide wooden floors and weathered wooden beams that frame the interior and give the space the look and feel of a homey cabin. Formally the site of Martha’s Stone Soup, a front kitchenette is now a quaint tavern bar which stars a selection of 13 different rye whiskeys, along with an assortment of craft beers on tap.
We pass a brick fireplace and take a seat beside a window with a clear view of the restaurant’s seasonal vegetable garden. Our waitress suggests to try the Rye Garden, a martini made with Hendrick’s gin and St. Germain, infused with white pepper and cucumbers from the Rye garden. The taste is crisp and unexpectedly refreshing.
“No dish is better than its ingredients,” says Chef Joanna Farrar, who switches up the Rye Tavern menu every three weeks to feature what’s fresh in the garden and local farms. Together with Laura Henry-Zoubir, the executive chef who overlooks each Dramshop Hospitality property, the two experiment with ingredients and come up with new menu ideas.
Growing up on a 100-acre farm in Maine, Farrar is excited to bring the same farm-to-table eating experience that she used to share with her family — this time giving it an upscale and unique twist. You don’t often see an order of house-made crackerjacks, salty and sweet, served in miniature metal pail as a greetings snack. And never would you imagine a bowl of clam chowder to be placed in front of you with a giant fried whole belly clam balanced on a scoop of bacon mashed potatoes with chowder broth poured around the bowl.
The entrée list is impressive. A classic chicken breast “under a brick,” is served with goat cheese mashed potatoes, balsamic grilled portabellas and asparagus, while the homemade ricotta gnocchi is accompanied by Rye garden ratatouille and Shy Brother’s farm cheese.
Tempted by each, I choose my winter favorite, a succulent duck breast. The Mallard duck breast is sliced thin and laid beside a bed of wild rice pilaf with a topping of sautéed garden greens and blackberry pan sauce. Farrar highlights the sweet and savory elements to let their individual flavor sing on the plate. My friend, who goes with the pan roasted scallops, is blown away by the tenderness and flavors that unfold in each bite, accompanied by a creamy risotto with asparagus, pancetta, corn, tomato, and aged balsamic.
On Saturdays and Sundays, a special brunch menu offers over 25 gourmet dishes, like a smoked salmon omelet with spinach and goat cheese.
To end a meal so hearty only a rustic dessert would do. We share the signature whiskey peach and brown sugar crisp, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of toffee sauce. I can not tell you what the secret is in this dessert, but I can tell you that I am still craving it, along with every other warming element at the Rye Tavern.