Last week, I invited my friend Dani to have lunch with John and I at the recently-opened Maurepas Foods in the Bywater. Now, when I invite Dani, I am also inviting her 2-year-old daughter Posie and seeing as how everything must revolve around nap time and the kid’s ever-variant mood swings, we didn’t exactly make it for lunch. That being said, when we finally wandered into the restaurant it was almost 4PM and I was starving. We could tell that even Posie was hungry, seeing as she waited patiently for something to munch on. Needless to say, we went a little crazy and ordered a lot of food.
A cheese plate came out first with a hard Vermont cheddar, creamy morbier and thick Landaff served with sugared pecans and sliced ciabatta. There was a kind of chutney on the plate, but after Posie stuck her whole hand in it, I kind of lost interest. At the same time, we also shared a plate of house made pickled root vegetables like carrots, turnips, ginger and even “Romanesco” broccoli (similar to cauliflower) and lima beans.
Maybe we went a teensy-bit overboard on the apps, because I also ordered their Sweet Potato Croquettes and Brussels sprouts. The Croquettes were just wonderful — crunchy and crisp on the outside, sweet and creamy on the inside — and served with a smear of a salted plum jam. There were unmistakable accents of Indian cuisine like coriander, fenugreek and cumin, which turned out to be sort of a theme for several of the dishes. The other plate of Brussels sprouts were browned with thick bacon and tossed in a “winter vegetable puree.” I chose the sprouts because I thought Posie would dig them (and she did), but the rest of us weren’t complaining either.
Believe it or not, we also got entrees and had no difficulty polishing all of them off. Dani got the Fish & Chips “Moira” (Wendy Darling?) with crispy Lyonaise potatoes and malt vinaigrette. I am uncertain what kind of fish it was (being distracted by my own plate), but the taste I had was delightful and Dani could not stop raving about a curry sauce that came with it that brought to mind her favorite Indian dish, Butter Chicken. I think she showed admirable restraint by not swabbing up all of the heady sauce with her fingers.
John ordered the Pork & Bacon Terrine that was served with thin slices of pickled pears, honey and mizuna or Japanese mustard. Yep, I had to look that one up. Though I did enjoy a large bite of his luscious terrine, I was really hypnotized by my own dish, the P&J Oyster Stew. Served in an oven-hot crock and topped by buttery pastry, I was a bit unnerved when I first broke through the crust. A blood-red broth oozed onto the pastry and the steam released a scent of yet more Indian seasoning. My spoon dove straight to the bottom of the hot stew only to discover humongous, plump, juicy oysters and lots of minutely-diced beets. I slurped down every last drop and scraped down the pastry from the edge of the crock until anymore foraging would have looked helplessly desperate. I would so order this dish again…in a heartbeat.
Keeping with the gluttonous theme of the entire afternoon, we ordered two desserts to share with no regrets. My favorite was the Roasted Pumpkin Ice Cream Sundae with candied pecans and hot fudge, but I think Dani definitely preferred the fluffy King Cake/cream puff overflowing with a goat cheese filling and topped with a chocolate ganache and bright gold & green sugar crystals.
After that gorging session, it was time for my nap…