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What's Up Magazine

Oxford's Centerpiece

May 19, 2014 10:00AM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Diana Jeffra // Photography by Tony Lewis, Jr.

Robert Morris Inn
314 North Morris Street, Oxford

The previous home of Robert Morris, the “Financier of the Revolution” is now one of the oldest running inns in America, which began circa 1710. It is located in the quaint Eastern Shore town of Oxford, known for its laid back atmosphere, picturesque sailing, and exceptional dining. Neighboring the Oxford Yacht Club toward the far end of town, Robert Morris Inn has water views of the Tred Avon River and the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry that connects Oxford to Royal Oak and St. Michaels. Part-owner and Chef Mark Salter is responsible for Robert Morris Inn’s reputation for outstanding food and service. I was quite excited to be able to dine here.

The restaurant is divided into two rooms, a formal dining room and a more intimate tavern. Both serve the same menu; the tavern has two fireplaces, a bar, several booths, and table seating, whereas the formal dining room has tables only, with white tablecloths and additional larger-sized tables, which are perfect for sizable parties or a more formal experience.

Immediately after we entered the restaurant, the manager, Eve, who was incredibly welcoming and hospitable, greeted us and allowed us to pick where we would like to sit. We chose to sit in the tavern with the fireplaces. Our server, Cara, has worked here for a couple of years and was a very polite, excellent server; plus, she had extensive knowledge of menu.

We began our epic feast with cocktails. I decided on the Turkey Blind and my guest had the creamy Snowdrop Martini. The Turkey Blind is a simple mixture of Wild Turkey and Grapefruit juice, while the martini blended vanilla vodka, Frangelico, and half & half, topped with cinnamon. Both were excellent. I do think the martini would have made a better dessert cocktail being on the sweeter side, but, nonetheless, it was delicious.

To start our meal we selected the Spring Pea and Mint Soup with crab, the Crab Spring Roll, and an order of Fried Oysters. The soup was a delight and, bonus tip, may be ordered vegetarian without the crab. It was a very vibrant green, served hot with a chiffonade of mint, and boasted a nice topping of crabmeat. The texture was smooth and silky, which is quite surprising because there is no cream in the soup.

The Crab Spring Roll arrived on a rectangular plate served with a bright crisp salad of mixed greens and a fan of fresh avocado and grapefruit supremes, topped with toasted almonds. The spring roll was cut in two on a bias, placed on its ends, and tucked between the salad and avocado slices. The roll was fried until crispy and filled with Nappa Cabbage, lump crabmeat, and scallions, then flavored with lime juice. It was a wonderful combination of flavors and textures.

The fried oysters were also served on a rectangular plate with a nice salad tossed with lemon-thyme vinaigrette. There were five large oysters, panko breaded and fried to perfection, served with house-made cocktail sauce and remoulade.
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Next came our entrees. We ordered the Seafood Platter, Lamb Curry, and the Oyster Pot Pie. The seafood platter is a must try. It had everything a seafood lover would want; two jumbo poached shrimp, three fried oysters, a portion of beer battered flounder, a mini crab cake, a croustade with smoked bluefish pate, and an espresso cup of the cream of crab soup. And nestled in the middle of all the seafood, there’s a mixed green salad. This is enough to share, but if you love seafood as much as I do, I don’t know if you would want to. The cream of crab is outstanding; ditto for the smoked bluefish pate. All the other items are equally excellent. I believe this dish is for those that can’t decide among the seafood choices on the menu. It is the perfect tasting of what the Robert Morris Inn has to offer.

We decided to eat at here on a Wednesday, which happened to be curry night. They offer three varieties; chicken, shrimp, or lamb. Cara, our server, described the chicken as being the mildest of the three and the other two being on the spicy side but not overly hot. The curries are all served with house-made mango chutney, cucumber raita, coconut jasmine rice, and a Papadum. I decided to try the lamb, which was tender and the flavors well-balanced. The spiciness was present but not overwhelming. I have to say this is one of the best curry dishes that I have had; it is a must try dish.

The oyster pot pie is one of the more popular menu items. It is a wonderful mix of vegetable and plump oysters served in a ramekin topped with puff pastry. The oysters are added to the vegetable mix à la minute, so they are heated through and not over cooked, keeping their wonderful texture. There is a really nice mixture of vibrant vegetables; fingerling potatoes, snow peas, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, and string beans. This dish was warming and rich, but not heavy.

We ended the evening with Ailsa’s Chocolate Carrot Cake and the Pavlova. The Chocolate Carrot Cake is very decadent. It comes as a square portion that is completely coated in chocolate. And the cake itself has chocolate in it, so it is not just carrot cake covered in chocolate. It is served with vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce, and a strawberry garnish. On the opposite side of the decadent chocolate cake, we tried the Pavlova. This was my favorite of the two. The dish is composed of a birds nest style baked meringue that is filled with Chantilly cream and topped with fresh berries and a mixed berry sauce. This dish looks really large but the meringue is as light as air, so this is not heavy whatsoever. The meringue is crispy on the outside with a bit of chew on the interior, which is a wonderful contrast to the smooth silky Chantilly cream. The fresh berries and sauce give this the sweetness it needs without overdoing it. This is wonderful light springtime dessert.

Oxford and the Robert Morris Inn are a perfect destination for a day trip or an overnight adventure. There is something that is sure to entice everyone, from Curry night on Wednesdays, Lobster Night on Thursdays, Sunday brunch, or Prime Rib Sunday evenings. With its rich history and exceptional food, Robert Morris Inn is a destination not to be missed.

Eastern Shore native, Diana Jeffra is a professional chef and aspiring food stylist. Her background in graphic design and her culinary degree from the Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism Institute have led her to begin work on her first cookbook. Past adventures have led her to culinary competitions and a summer cooking in Italy.

The Check
Turkey Blind $8.50
Snowdrop Martini $9
Pea and Mint Soup $8
Crab Spring Roll $14
Fried Oysters $13
Seafood Platter $32
Lamb Curry $16
Oyster Pot Pie $19
Ailsa’s Chocolate Carrot Cake $9
Pavlova $8