By Marry Ann Treger
Psst. Come closer. In case you haven’t heard, a culinary renaissance is taking place in Easton, the charming historic getaway on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. While this delightful destination still enjoys oodles of small-town charm with quaint antique shops, coffeehouses and horse-drawn carriage tours, a tsunami of change is transforming this once-sleepy town into a sophisticated dining mecca.
Easton’s revitalization came about after Paul Prager, a Naval Academy graduate and successful self-made businessman, came to town. He invested in hundreds of acres of farmland with an eye on making the area a place to call home. But he missed the fine food he was accustomed to in New York, Vienna and all the European cities he loved.
What did this innovative guy do? He established Blue Point Hospitality while purchasing and renovating several historic buildings in the heart of town. World-class decorators were hired to create high-style interior design from uber-casual to elegant and refined. Prager hired and consulted with New York City and European chefs to create one-of-a-kind culinary treasures. Eight epicurean establishments and two shops are open with more on the way—a luxe boutique hotel, a Japanese restaurant and a crepe shop are in development.
Seating only 24 people, Bas Rouge has the feel of a private club. By day, light pours in from expansive windows. After sunset, the vibe downshifts to intimacy and quiet conversation. Embraced by creamy white walls with insets of antique mirrors and elaborate crown moldings, the room features 19th- and 20th-century gold-framed oil paintings by Austrian and German hunt school masters.
An antique Viennese burgundy and gold banquette welcomes diners in one corner of the room. Nearby, a mahogany bar with bronze detailing complements a black marble-topped French Empire-style sideboard holding an opulent alabaster vessel. A solid silver English meat trolley dating from 1910 complements the monumental fresh flower arrangements artfully placed around the room.
Bas Rouge has the feel of “old money,” far from ostentatious or—heaven forbid—nouveau riche. The restaurant’s name acknowledges the owner’s passion for the Beauceron, a centuries-old French herding dog distinguished by its red feet, or “bas rouge.”
The prix fixe dinner menu offers lusty food to tempt the palate. Appetizer choices include roasted beets and speck salad with goat cheese mousse. Entrees feature seared halibut with fennel potato puree, confit tomatoes and macadamia and asparagus salad with a burst of yuzu citrus emulsion. Each course is served on fine Bernardaud porcelain.
Don’t think of skipping dessert. The dark chocolate pecan tart is crazy good. A three-course dining experience is $100, and four courses are $125. Wine pairings are available. Lunch and dinner are served Thursday, Friday and Saturday. basrougeeaston.com
Pleated gold lampshades hover over banquets creating the illusion of haute couture dresses. Pale green, pink, salmon and gray frame the space. Even the powder rooms convey irresistible playfulness. Pink elephants greet the belles. Blue elephants welcome the beaus.
A kaleidoscope of handcrafted ice cream will delight diners, but the star of Bonheur is tea fit for royalty. Served in traditional British fashion, a silver tea service comes accompanied by scones with Devonshire cream, lemon curd and seasonal jam or crustless sandwiches of Scottish smoked salmon with crème fraîche and watercress. Fine Champagnes are also on offer. bonheureaston.com
Bumble Bee Juice
With white subway-tiled walls, a high slate-gray ceiling and shiny steel café tables and chairs, Bumble Bee Juice feels like an old-fashioned apothecary shop reimagined to serve liquid nutrition.
A bright array of juice blends, smoothies and bowls of spoon-ables with plenty of antioxidant boosters complement artisanal honey products from apiaries near and far. Try the small but mighty 60-calorie nutritional shots of ginger, lemon and cayenne. bbjuices.com
Roma Alla Pala
While the Neapolitans are famous for creating pizza, the Romans take their version—square and cut with scissors—just as serious.
The cozy, Soho-chic interior of Roma centers around a custom-designed pizza oven and kitchen. Admire the parade of pizza choices ranging from classic margherita to imaginative squash and black truffle. romaeaston.com
Sunflowers & Greens
Crisp salads, savory soups and gourmet sandwiches prepared with freshly baked sourdough bread piping hot from the oven come to you in a setting reminiscent of a small French town.
The chef blends locally sourced produce with proteins of exceptional quality, such as 31-month Prosciutto di Parma or an Asian tuna salad with blackened ahi tuna in a soy-ginger vinaigrette. sunflowersandgreens.com
Fancy sipping single-malt Scotch whisky or vintage Champagne?
The Stewart delivers a world-class collection of both. While imbibing, nibble on a selection of small plates that includes venison loin with fennel, beets and tarragon or mac and cheese with Kaluga caviar. The establishment looks like a grand Scottish estate’s swanky drawing room.
Settle into a rawhide banquette or chairs covered in wool checks, tweeds and plaids. Get comfy on a custom leather stool adjacent to a curved black walnut bar showcasing prized amber indulgences.
Each pour receives a specially selected glass thanks to a collection of new and vintage Baccarat tumblers and flutes. Those who prefer adding hand-cut ice at their own pace can dispense ice from a vintage gold-swagged ice bowl.
See how Easton’s “new” beautifully blends with the old. Begin your stroll at the statue of the Civil War soldier on the courthouse green. Poke into specialty shops filled with unique and fresh merchandise. Attend a performance at the historic Avalon Theater. Drop by Easton’s Farmers Market or visit the Talbot Historical Society Museum and Gardens. Nature lovers can attend a lecture, take a field trip or rent a canoe at the Pickering Creek Audubon Center set on 400 glorious acres.
Today’s Easton is like discovering a whole new brand of happiness. Learn more at discovereaston.com.