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Five Things: 1854 Taproom at Stone House Inn, Little Compton

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

 

When the Stone House's fine Pietra shuttered for the season, the main house's 1854 Taproom took center stage. Was this Little Compton luxury inn still a culinary destination? Sean DeBobes headed back south to check. Here are the five things he wants you to know.

One.  Hidden Gem.

You have to drive to Little Compton (no matter what the season) to try out this clandestine kitchen. All night I was consistently delighted by the high caliber of food and service. It was a real treat to see Chef Kim Lambrechts hand-deliver almost every dish in the dining room with a detailed description of what was in store on these skillfully executed plates. The dining room was filled with hotel guests and lucky locals who were ably served by our waitress Mariana.

Two. Cheese, Rockets & Mussels.

The first dish to arrive at the table had me floored. A croquette of  Emmental & Swiss cheeses was bound together with leeks and shallots by a Mornay sauce, then encased in savory bread crumbs and pan-fried before settling in next to a rocket salad with a sweet vidalia vinaigrette. (The 1854 should insist that guests order this perfectly designed appetizer.) Next up was a heaping bowl of coconut and red curry mussels topped with fresh cilantro. Chef Lambrechts

simmered these shellfish with extreme precision; every bite was incredibly tender. The delicious sweet and spicy broth ensured that I forgot my manners while I ripped off great chucks of bread for sopping up this sauce.

Three. Wet My Whistle.

You really cannot go to a place called the Taproom and not order a cocktail…  or two. Thankfully I was staying the night so I decided to order a Hurricane (don’t judge). I was hoping that 1854 could pull off this typically frat-tastic drink and they did. A mixture of Myers Dark Rum, Disaronno, Southern Comfort and a splash of blueberry sloe gin blended perfectly with grenadine and fresh pineapple and orange juices. This drink was wonderfully balanced and the fresh juices provided a great natural sweetness. Also on deck was the Poached Pear Martini. This vanilla and pear vodka based drink was beautifully garnished with a half a poached pear before a splash of poaching liquid was added. Mariana informs me that this clever cocktail is fast becoming a favorite of 1854 regulars.

Four. Mains.

A small menu with only seven mains manages to traverse many regions and flavor profiles. In other words, this is a list that could please the pickiest of eaters. My dining buddy ordered the

maple and chili marinated free range chicken (pictured above). The accompanying sweet and spicy jus melded the juicy chicken with a superb medley of roasted root vegetables.  This assured dish was delicate and remarkable. For my dinner I ordered a bounty of shrimp, mussels, scallops and calamari over fresh papardelle in a lobster and saffron tomato broth. The great ribbons of pasta gave wonderful structure to this slightly spicy dish that was served with flavorsome grilled broccoli rabe. The dish had a sort of quiet flavor that was simple and elegant.

Five. Save Room For….

Blueberry & Cranberry cobbler. This super-tart treat was served warm under a puffy graham cookie. Cranberry is one of my favorite flavors and many chefs don’t cook with it. So cheers to Chef Lambrechts for bringing this seasonal delight to the table.

Would I go back? YES! I only wish this column was six things. There were more great dishes to talk about and even more on the menu to taste.

Hit “Save” 1854 Taproom @ The Stone House Inn, 122 Sakonnet Point Rd, Little Compton, 635-2222, Seasonal hours – check Web site for details.

Follow FIve Things on Facebook for updates, Sean's added insights and posts, and more.

 

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