The River House at Easton Club
Sep 26, 2012 01:01PM ● Published by Anonymous
As you enter the River House Restaurant, you are surrounded by nautical-themed décor. Oars are perched on the wall, while compasses and boating décor hang at various spots throughout the space. The ambiance is just right for the mix of families out for the night and people coming off the golf course. It’s casual yet refined, and the room is warm and inviting. In addition, there is a nice sized outdoor patio for al fresco dining, and the views of the golf course can’t be beat.
With a new chef in place and an emphasis on local sourcing, we had high expectations for the River House. Chef Michael Rork took over the kitchen earlier this year, and his presence shows. A list of locally sourced items has a place on the menu, and the staff emphasized on more than one occasion that much of the seafood is locally caught. That type of dedication to finding the best ingredients and using the bounty of the Eastern Shore isn’t as common as it should be out here, and it pays off.
We started our evening with a few signature cocktails from their drink menu. A peach Bellini ($8) was light and refreshing, combining a fresh fruit puree with sparkling wine. The Hole in One Martini ($8.25) was a unique combination of bourbon, dry vermouth, and orange bitters. It was dry with a hint of citrus, and let the ingredients speak for themselves. Finally, a simple vodka martini ($6) was well-prepared and delicious. Although we found it surprising that their cocktails were served in wine glasses, the drinks themselves were balanced and tasty.
After cocktails, we kicked things off with the Fried Calamari ($9.50), the Crab Dip ($12) and the Roasted Scallops ($12). The scallops were the most intriguing, offering a nice crispy sear on the outside with a beautifully cooked center. The scallops were accompanied by a well- seasoned and moist lobster risotto, making this dish one of the best of the night. The sweetness of the risotto and saltiness of the sauce complemented each other perfectly. The calamari were lightly fried and accompanied by a classic marinara sauce and a sweet and spicy chili sauce. The chili sauce added a little extra kick to a dish that can at times get boring and bland. The crab dip, served with tortilla chips, was a great appetizer to share, although we all agreed a nice crunchy baguette would have fit the bill better than the tortilla chips. The flavors were great and the balance of cheese and crab was right, so as to not leave you wondering where the crab was in every bite.
Throughout the evening, the service was quick, friendly, and helpful. We got some assistance from our server about entrée choices, and her recommendations were great. The soft shell crab ($22), caught locally in Maryland, was lightly battered and fried and was served with a spicy mustard sauce. It was a simple dish that was executed perfectly. The Crabcake ($19) was filled with jumbo lump crab and only light filler. You can choose to have your crab cake broiled or fried, and we found the broiled option was the right decision. Soft on the inside and a crispy sear on the outside, the cooking method showcased the ingredients properly.
The made-from-scratch mantra really came through with the Shrimp and Grits ($19), where fresh corn grits were used in place of what you often find, which are boxed or instant grits. We were happily pulling corn kernels out of our teeth all night, and the flavor was unmatched by any other version of the dish that I’ve eaten on the Eastern Shore. There is clearly some Southern influence in that dish. Our table wrapped up the entrees with Seared Tuna ($18), which came out perfectly rare, lightly browned on the outside and accompanied by a spicy wasabi sauce and seaweed greens. Each of these dishes was really spectacular and the care and quality of the kitchen staff comes through in every bite.
With generous portions and affordable prices, it can be difficult to leave room for dessert. But if you do, you’ll be rewarded with a list of great homemade options. Although our first choice, the rum cake ($6.25), was out of stock that night, the key lime pie ($6.25) was a worthy substitute. Sweet and tart, and topped with whipped cream, it was the perfect end to a great meal.
The River House Restaurant should be a destination for your next trip to Easton. The views are great, the staff and is friendly, and the food is fantastic.
David McCabe is an active member of the greater Washington, D.C., area restaurant industry, having opened and managed many establishments in the area. He has a passion for food and beverage and is the owner of two hospitality-related businesses based in the mid-Atlantic region.