With it’s location over looking picturesque Menemsha Harbor, The Beach Plum Inn has always been a great place to eat while enjoying a gorgeous sunset. Now in it’s second year with Chef Chris Fischer at the helm, the dining room sports a rustic, casual look to go with it’s farm to table cuisine.
The term “farm to table” gets tossed around quite a bit these days, but in this case, it’s more than appropriate, as much of the meat and produce comes from the Fischer family’s Beetlebung Farm, located about a mile away. The focus is on fresh, simple ingredients, with a menu that changes daily to take advantage of what is in season at any given moment.
EA started with the Spinach Salad, served with anchovy vinaigrette. The baby spinach leaves were bright green and extremely fresh, with a crisp, snappy texture. Garnished with fennel fronds, the salad was lightly dressed, with just enough vinaigrette to pull everything together without masking the spinach flavor. As for the dressing, it combined a bright acidity (lemon and garlic?) with the just the right balance of salty fish flavor. The fennel fronds added nice hit of licorice flavor towards the end of each bite, almost like a palate cleanser.
KD opted for the Fava Puree with radishes and creme fraiche. True to it’s name, the dish consisted of two types of radishes, with greens intact, a dollop of creme fraiche and a few swirls of bright green puree. The dish appeared simple enough, but had a surprisingly complex flavor. The radishes had very little bite, with a crisp and earthy flavor that paired well with the creamy, delicate creme fraiche. The fava puree was laced with lemon and helped to cut through and off-set the other flavors.
In-between courses, we were served an amuse bouche of Bluefish Belly sashimi. Yes, seriously, raw bluefish. And it was fantastic. Thinly sliced, it was served with a bit of roasted burdock root, a sprinkle of black sesame seeds and chili flakes, fried sage blossoms and a dusting of smoked Maldon salt. Sitting atop a splash of oil, the bluefish belied it’s reputation as a strong tasting fish, and was surprisingly buttery and mild. The roasted burdock root had both crunchy and chewy bits, with an interesting, almost pickle-like sharp flavor. Besides bringing a bit of crisp texture, the fried sage blossoms added an amazing herbaceous, floral quality to the dish. With the slightly smoky salt and a slight bit of heat from the chili flakes, this plate had very wide range of flavors that combined into a really cohesive dish.
Continuing with the Bluefish motif, EA selected the Panzanella made with Bluefish and radish, which included the greens. The fish was perfectly cooked, with slightly charred, crispy skin and again, a mild quality not usually found in Bluefish. Despite their slight bite, the radishes were also cooling and watery, which contrasted nicely with the bitter greens. The bread had a sweet crust, with perhaps a bit of honey, while the pickled onions provided a welcome bit of of acidity.
For her main, KD chose the Polenta with poached egg and asparagus. Beautifully poached, the egg yolk ran freely when pierced, settling around the plate and forming a perfect sauce. The polenta was earthy and filling, starting with a creamy corn flavor and finishing with a rich, chicken flavor. The asparagus was sliced in half to provide plenty of surface area to get a good sear. The dish had all the qualities of your favorite comfort food, warm, rich and filling without being too heavy.
The Mocha Tart was made with Chilmark Coffee Roasters coffee and topped with oats and sprinkles of ground coffee. The coffee flavor was just right, strong enough to satisfy coffee lovers, but not so much that the tart became one-note. Resting in an amazingly flakey, buttery crust, the tart wasn’t overly sweet and benefitted from the salty oats providing a counterpoint to the dark and rich filling.
KD’s dessert was Fromage Blanc from Mermaid Farm, with rhubarb and candied walnuts and macadamias. The rhubarb was presented two ways, both as a tart compote, and as candied strips of rhubarb. The strips of rhubarb were really interesting as they were both sweet and tart, reminding us of sour patch kids, but in a natural way. We really enjoyed how this dessert concentrated on the more sour and savory flavors, with just the occasional hit of sugar for balance. The tartness of the rhubarb was tempered by the creamy, almost sour flavor of the aged fromage blanc, with the candied nuts providing a bit of salty sweetness, as well as crunch.
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