Last month, one of CT’s oldest friends, PS, was in town for his annual visit. He is in the Navy and based out of Hawaii, so it isn’t easy for him to come back to the Northeast that often. CT asked me for recommendations on where we could go for dinner. The chief requirement was that the place has a nice selection of whiskeys and obviously tasty food. Rye House seemed to fit the criteria and it was relatively close by.
When CT & I arrived, PS was already into a whiskey flight with another friend. I believe it was $30 for four nice pours. I think he enjoyed them all.
In addition to a standard menu layout of apps, sandwiches, and entrees they also have half a dozen or so small plates. The small plates piqued the interest of CT, PS and myself so we decided to share a few of the more interesting dishes. I did note that the prices were pretty high for tapas-style dining ranging from $9-$16.
Grilled Oysters with herb & spice butter and grilled baguette ($15). I consider myself a purist so I usually prefer my oysters raw, but these were pretty good regardless. Unfortunately the herb & spice butter overpowered any of the “liquor” in the oyster shell. I wouldn’t recommend this dish especially considering it was $2.50 an oyster.
CT says: I thought the dish was tasty enough, but I also probably wouldn’t order it again. I never had grilled oysters before and they were cooked well, but I think I, too, prefer them raw in all their brininess.
Meatballs (Beef, Pork, Cumin, Cilantro) with warm tomatillo salsa ($12). Originally we weren’t going to get these since neither CT nor I had never heard anyone rave about the meatballs at Rye House that made them $12 good, but PS suggested getting them and he was the guest of honor. The chef used a heavy hand of cumin in these so the meatballs tasted of falafel to me. They were a tad overcooked so the tomatillo salsa was needed to bring some moisture to the bite. They were some of the most unique meatballs I have eaten.
CT says: Though a little overcooked, I liked the flavors of these and happily gobbled it up.
“Maplebrook Farms” Burrata Cheese with grilled crostini, cherry tomatoes, olives, arugula and a balsamic reduction($14). I had not had burrata in a long time and combined with the fact that it was a hot, humid night, this was a cool, refreshing treat. The creaminess of the cheese mixed with the tang of the balsamic and the saltiness of the olives on crunchy bread was a perfect combination. This dish justified the price tag.
CT says: Light and delicious… I could’ve eaten the whole plate on my own (without those evil olives, of course!)
House Smoked BBQ Pork Cheeks with house baked beans and radish slaw($14). This was the first dish we agreed on to order. How could we not with a name like that? The cheeks were reminiscent of short ribs with almost too much smokey flavor. It was quite hearty as pork and beans usually are, but with a nice crunchy freshness from the slaw. I would definitely order this again.
CT says: The smoke was definitely very present, however it didn’t make the dish any less delicious. It was rich but not too heavy. Perfect for sharing although at the time I wanted to be selfish and eat the whole thing. The cheeks were great, but the baked beans also held their own on the plate. Really good all around.
All in all, Rye House was a nice choice to catch up with an old friend and meet some new ones. There is a long communal table in the dining area that is conducive to groups with a handful of smaller tables on the perimeter. While the prices were pretty high, it was a nice relaxing environment to be in, especially if you are a whiskey drinker.