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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Eastville Inn: Made from Scratch Culinary Mantra


New Restaurant Feature:

Eastville Inn: Made from Scratch Culinary Mantra
By Donna Bozza
Photo Credit Jim Baugh  



Dining is an experience to savor.

It’s communing with companions over carefully prepared foods, taking the time to taste, celebrating the interplay of humble or exotic ingredients. It’s filling the moment rather than just our stomachs.  

So why eat, when one can dine?

And dining is what Jim and I relished on a recent visit to The Eastville Inn, where we rediscovered in the hands of chef/owner Brent "Uncey" Schmidt how flavorful it is to find a made from scratch restaurant. 
  During a hectic week, Jim was happy to abandon his skillet and we welcomed a chance to change it up a bit. The Eastville Inn’s promise of a melting pot of culinary influences French, Japanese, Italian, and Cajun lured us out. Its causal atmosphere of fine dining without the fuss got us in.
Set in the pretty, little town of Eastville, the Inn is located on the southern end of Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The historic 300 hundred year old building with broad porch shares the same genteel nature as the vintage courthouse green next door.

The lovely interior pays homage to its history with warm oak floors and stately white columns intersecting the main dining room, along with its tasteful showcases of local artifacts. Bold, modern touches infuse energy with abstract paintings, a deep yellow surround, and a glass wall that encloses a smaller dining area perfect for private parties. In addition, there is an intimate bar set off by itself.

With 20 years of restaurant experience Schmidt came to the Eastern Shore from his previous restaurant Brent’s in Hampton, Virginia. [No stranger to the Shore his mom hails from Onancock, “up the road.”] A long time Hamptonite, Jim discovered Schmidt’s culinary skills there and some 15 years back when Schmidt was the executive chef at another Hampton restaurant –Bobby’s Americana owned by Bobby Huber, one of the region's best known and celebrated culinary professionals.
 
Lobster
“Whatever kitchen Brent was in –we knew the food would blow us away,” recalled Jim who was curious to see what Schmidt was up to on this side of the Pond.

Our server greeted us warmly and was very knowledgeable on the menu offerings, a must when you bring Foodie Jim Baugh along.


The opening act of thyme and rosemary bread, made with fresh rosemary picked from the inn’s garden, set the stage for our entire dining experience. It’s a rarity even in restaurants that pride themselves on hands-on food prep to make their own breads. However, made in-house, from scratch is Schmidt’s culinary mantra from the salad dressings on up.

His restaurant serves made to order meals prepared with local and fresh ingredients. Considering that most chain restaurants regularly serve us such things as vacuum-packed meat products swimming in preservatives, we appreciate even more that Schmidt hand cuts his premium steaks and is involved in all culinary details.

The menu is varied and playfully written. At our visit under “Liquid Concoctions and Rabbit Food” were two soups, Creamy Crimini Mushroom soup at $5, and Chicken Noodle Soup at $5, along with two salads, a House Salad that didn’t skimp on ingredients at $5 and a $9 Spinach Salad.

We honed in on appetizers, five were available, four of which our server said were ample enough to share. Prices ranged from $6 to $12.

We ordered the Smoked Salmon on Potato Crepes with red onions, cucumbers, capers, and sour cream; a flavorful start I would order again.


We also tried the Crawfish Etoufee on a bed of garlic mashers that the menu confirmed is spicy as it authentic Cajun pedigree would demand. For those like me who don’t like 4-alarm fiery dishes but do appreciate some heat; this hearty stew is perfect with plump and tender crawfish and crisp celery, onions, and peppers that stand up to the mix.  
 
Etoufee
Schmidt said his menu will always include some of his standard dishes but he leaves room for improv to accommodate what is locally available and allow loyal patrons to experiment.

Hence my entrĂ©e choice of fresh, local flounder delivered by a waterman to the inn’s door that morning. I like flounder but this rich tasting rendition I loved. It was oven baked on a bed of creamy, mascarpone cheese-laced polenta with asparagus and a Compound Creole Butter.     
 
Fresh Flounder with Compound Butter
Jim selected a Filet Mignon to round out our surf and turf meal. The Smokey grilled Filet Mignon wrapped in Applewood Smoked Bacon is served with an intensely flavorful demi-glace sauce using a light Andouille sausage base. I had to remind Jim that we were sharing. 
Applewood Smoked Bacon Wrapped FIlet Mignon with Mashers Marchand de Vin and Brussel Sprous

The night’s menu gave a choice of five entrees ranging from $15 to $35 that included a vegetarian pasta dish chuck full of veggies in an almond-basil pesto. Both vegetarian and gluten free offerings are mainstays on The Eastville Inn’s menu.


Also available are the three course dinner selections for $30 plus tax that includes the also made from scratch desserts: Pineapple and White Chocolate Bread Pudding and NY Style Cheesecake.


Certainly, The Eastville Inn is a fabulous choice for special occasions –hint, hint, Valentine’s Day is upon us. [See note below] But it would be a waste of great dining to limit visits. With its welcoming ambience it makes a great place to rendezvous with friends weekly, perhaps for Tapas Tuesday with its adventurous assortment of reasonably priced offerings. [Other midweek, budget-friendly options are Wine Wednesday and Martini Thursday.] A “no boys allowed” lunch with the girls would be fun here too. Sorry Jim

Jim and I agree that the intimate cocktail lounge with television would be a particularly nice escape for us. We could share some wine and an appetizer or two.

And DINE.

The Eastville Inn, 16422 Courthouse Road, Eastville, VA, (757) 678-5080, eastvilleinn@mail.com.

Ambience: A fun fusion of fine dining with a casual Eastern Shore vibe. Hand holders will especially like the smaller dining room.    

Service: Attentive with the expected Southern Hospitality

Libations: Being the new kid on the block the Inn is still testing the local watering hole scene. Currently offers a full bar, a sexy Martini Menu, 5 bottled beers, and a solid selection of white and red wines by the glass or bottle including offerings from the nearby winery Chatham Vineyards.

Hours:
Lunch: Tue-Fri 11am-2pm
Dinner: Tue-Sat starting at 5pm
The Inn is also available for private parties and events.

Reservations: Accepted

Coastal Tripping Tip: Not just for locals make The Eastville Inn the heart of your next weekend getaway. The Inn is exclusively a restaurant but accommodations in the historic bayside town of Cape Charles, http://www.capecharlesbythebay.com/ just 5 minutes south, range from bed & breakfast inns and a boutique hotel [seasonal]. Fun wine tastings are available at Chatham Vineyards http://www.chathamvineyards.net/  an award-winning vineyard just north of the Inn, along with an intriguing look at local history at The Barrier Islands Center. http://www.barrierislandscenter.com/

Valentines Day: Romance your partner with a Four Course Dinner for $50 plus tax, includes champagne toast. For more info: http://theeastvilleinn.com/menus


Directions:
From the South:
Eastville is about 15 miles north of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. The town is to the left (west) of US Highway 13 as you travel north. Signs will point you into the village. Three roads lead into the center of town at the intersection of Willow Oak Road (Route 631) and Courthouse Road (Business Route 13).
From the North:
From the Maryland state line, travel south on US Highway 13 about 50 miles. Turn right on either Business Route 13 (Courthouse Road) or Route 631 (Willow Oak Road). Signs will point you into the village. Either road brings you to the center of town and the Inn.




1 comment:

  1. Agree! I had a fantastic meal at the Eastville Inn last week with my date and all was marvelous!

    Mark

    ReplyDelete