Bas Rouge, Easton, MD – A Review

by artfuldiner on July 28, 2021

in Artful Diner Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Romantic, Wining and Dining

Bas Rouge

19 Federal Street

Easton, Maryland

(410) 822-1637

The flagship of New York energy mogul Paul Prager’s BluePoint Hospitality Group (which also owns several other restaurants and boutiques in town), Bas Rouge isn’t the kind of restaurant you expect to find in Easton, a sleepy little burg on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. In fact, in this age of smart casual eateries dominating the culinary landscape, restaurants like Bas Rouge are becoming increasingly difficult to find anywhere.

Bas Rouge - View InsideAccording to their website, “(It) is a contemporary European restaurant offering an impeccable integration of fine dining, a world-class wine list, and elegant service.” And that pretty much sums it up. Indeed, this is classic, refined Old World dining at its most gracious. The décor is reminiscent of a grand 19th century Austrian bistro. Furnishings include an antique Lobmeyr crystal chandelier & sconces, marble-topped antiques, and 19th century Austrian & German oil paintings.

Executive Chef Harley Peet and Chef de Cuisine Phil Lind, utilizing ingredients sourced from the very best local purveyors and farms, present a stylish & innovative take on Viennese & European classic dishes… and their cuisine is nothing short of extraordinary.

As you have undoubtedly surmised, dinner here will not be an inexpensive proposition. Three courses will put a $100.00 dent in your pocketbook; four courses, $125.00 (plus beverages, tax & gratuity). The three-course wine pairing is $75.00; four-courses, $100.00. Premium wine pairings are $125.00 and $150.00, respectively. My dining partner and I chose the three-course menu; I also opted for the premium wine pairing (both of which, in my opinion, more than justified the price). Since my companion was driving, she decided to be more circumspect with her alcoholic consumption.

Bas Rouge - Tuna w CapersDinner began with an amuse-bouche, a sliver of perfectly prepared tuna garnished with capers. The presentation was simple… but the taste sublime. And even more sublime was the wine that accompanied this gift from the chef – a glass of Champagne. But not just any Champagne. No, no… Dom Perignon… And that was just a hint of the marvelous things to come.

Bas Rouge - Sweet Onion RavioliAppetizers, for instance, offered up a number of intriguing possibilities. Items such as Terrine de Campagne with ground pistachio, peach salsa, and blueberry & ginger jam; Tuna Tartare ($20.00 supplement) served with cucumber, crème fraîche, salmon roe, and kaluga caviar; Clarified Gazpacho accompanied by tomato-basil sorbet and jumbo lump crab; and Sweet Onion Ravioli (pictured) filled with house-made ricotta crowned with spargel foam and smattering of brown butter crumbs. Spargel is a variety of white asparagus that Germans refer to as “white gold” and pay more per kilo for it than they do meat. Peeling and boiling for just the proper amount of time unlocks its unique flavor, which is subtler, lighter, and slightly sweeter than its green cousin… and proved a delectable complement to the delicately textured ravioli. This was my dining partner’s choice, and she was not disappointed.

Bas Rouge - Petit Tomato SaladMy Petit Tomato Salad (pictured) – comprised of red, yellow, and Sungold (golden orange) cherry tomatoes, splash of tomato water, and hint of basil – is another one of those deceptively simple dishes filled with all sorts of unexpected pleasures… and not merely the diversity of color. The yellow tomatoes, for example, are slightly less acidic than red varieties and, therefore, milder & sweeter in flavor. The Sungold tend to be sweet as well, but also firmer in texture. The translucent tomato water (the liquid that seeps from the ripe flesh after the tomato has been cut) not only intensifies the flavor but the fragrance of the dish as well. A marvelous starter.

… And equally marvelous was the sommelier’s choice of wine: a white Châteauneuf-du-Pape. When most people think of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the southern Rhône Valley, red wine comes immediately to mind. And that is certainly understandable, as only 7% of the wines made in that region are white. Produced from one or a combination of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, Bourboulenc, and Clairette, these are some of the rarest and most prestigious wines in France. They are intense, full-bodied, age beautifully, and are a wonderful match with a great variety of foods – particularly my Petit Tomato Salad.

Bas Rouge - Dover SoleAs my dining partner and I both love Dover sole, our choice of Dover Sole Roulade (pictured) was something of a no-brainer. Unlike other fish, Dover sole is very firm of texture; “more like meat,” as one writer put it. And the flavor…? Legal Seafood has a positively wonderful description: “The flavor of Dover sole is mild and sweet, elusive and enticingly different from more mundane white fish species. It’s a special indulgence and always worth extra care and expense.”

And at Bas Rouge it is prepared to perfection. The filet is rolled, gently sautéed with herbed beurre monte (emulsified melted butter), crowned with pickled vegetables & toasted hazelnuts and – the pièce de résistance – surrounded by potato & green asparagus purées. As you will note from the photograph, it is a feast for the eye as well as the palate.

The wine pairing was pretty close to perfection as well… a spectacular Chassagne-Montrachet. Located in France’s Côte de Beaune, the southern area of the Côte d’Or, the Chassagne-Montrachet wine region produces both pinot noir and chardonnay… But it is the white wines, made from 100% chardonnay, that are considered some of the very best in the world. And the wine I enjoyed with my Dover sole was certainly one of the best I have tasted in recent memory. It was a wonderfully elegant harmony of intense fruit, minerality, and delicate toasty flavors imparted by oak barrel fermentation. Incredible body… but as light as a feather on the palate. Kudos to the sommelier.

Bas Rouge - Blueberry Almond TartDesserts, courtesy of pastry chef Jim Hutchison, continue the kitchen’s excellent work. The night of our visit there were four possibilities noted on the printed menu: Strawberry Tart, vanilla sable, whipped vanilla ganache, strawberries; Coconut Mousse, yuzu curd, lime-infused pineapple, meringue; Pecan Brownie, pecan praline, whipped milk chocolate ganache, caramel; and House-Made Ice Creams.  But the one item not listed on the menu, the Blueberry Almond Tart (pictured), a special of the evening, was our dessert of choice. Encrusted in vanilla sable (sablé is the French word for shortbread), garnished with house-made vanilla ice cream, and overrun with fresh blueberries, the tart proved to be a marvelous conclusion to an equally marvelous meal… Made even more enjoyable while sipping my final wine of the evening, Mirtillo, a stunning blueberry liqueur imported from Austria.

If you happen to be visiting St. Michaels – staying at the Inn at Perry Cabin, as we were, or some other nearby location – Bas Rouge is only a leisurely twenty-minute drive away… and it is worth the trip. No, let me rephrase: This is one restaurant that is worth a journey.

Bon Appétit!

Be Safe & Stay Well


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