By Hope Katz Gibbs
Be Inkandescent Magazine
Jordan and Alice Lloyd were boyfriend and girlfriend in the 4th grade.
That was back in 1987 at Easton Elementary School. Although they both went off to have adventures on their own, today the couple is back on the Eastern Shore—and owners of the two-year-old Bartlett Pear Inn and Restaurant, which has become one of the hottest spots for romantic getaways in Talbot County.
In fact, the restaurant has received the #1 rating out of 18 restaurants in Easton by TripAdvisor.com, and Zagat, which gave it the highest ratings in all of the restaurants it surveyed in DC and Baltimore.
Highly critical restaurant reviewer Tom Sietsema, The Washington Post’s food critic, gave the bistro rave reviews—and two stars.
“Those two stars were the perfect rating, and came just three months after we first opened,” says Jordan. “It was a brilliant article, and also gave us something to work toward. If we had gotten more stars, I would have been nervous all the time that we’d let someone down. Now, we can exceed people’s expectations. I’d much rather be in that position as a chef and innkeeper.”
The Key Ingredients
Jordan admits that he’s worked hard to get to where he is. At 12, he took his first job washing dishes for a local Italian restaurant. “I needed lunch money, and it seemed like a good way to earn it,” he recalls.
By the time he was in high school, Jordan was working dozens of hours a week at the same restaurant, learning the food business, and helping to run the kitchen. For college, he headed to Pittsburgh’s International Culinary Academy. And then, for the next decade, helped to open eight restaurants—including La Goulue in Bal Harbour, FL, and Les Pinasse and St. Regis in New York City.
“I am proud to say that I was trained by some of the best chefs in the business,” Jordan says, noting that his mentor is renowned chef Christian Delouvrier.
While cooking is Jordan’s passion (and French cuisine is his favorite), he knew that to be a true restaurateur he needed to have a good handle on the front side of the house. So he spent months working as a server—at four-star restaurants in DC and Atlanta—where he learned the art of treating customers like royalty.
He brings all of that four-star savvy to the Bartlett Pear Inn.
In fact, Jordan often brings out the dishes to the table. “I think it is fun for our guests to have dinner served by the chef,” he insists. “It makes it feel more like they are really special. And to me, they are.”
Take the special-of-the-night that was being served when my daughter Anna and I dropped in for dinner: Four Story Hill Farm chicken, soaked in three bouillon baths before being cooked to perfection and carved personally by Jordan, tableside.
“We bought eight chickens, and they all sold out,” he told us the next morning at breakfast. “I love working with this farm because it’s a relatively small operation in a rural area of northeastern Pennsylvania, and it supplies meat to some of the best chefs, including Thomas Keller, Joel Robuchon, and Daniel Boulud, among others. The quality is incredible.”
So it goes for all of Jordan’s creations, which include a variety of prime cuts of beef, roast chicken, and choices of sides, as well as à la carte appetizer and entree choices. The food’s foundation is based on classic French technique with subtle touches of contemporary plate design. Like the chickens from Four Story Hill Farm, Jordan uses products from local farms whenever possible.
Prices range from $11-$24 for appetizers, $28-$42 for entrees, and hearty sides range from $6-$11. A Chef’s tasting menu includes five courses, for $60 per person; add $25 for a wine pairing. Click here for the dinner menu.
Those with slightly smaller appetites, or budgets, can opt to sit in the lovely appointed bar and for $19.95 per person enjoy three lighter courses. Choose from a main dish (such as a Maryland crab cake, roasted chicken, or Hawaiian big eye tuna steak), a vegetable (beet and goat cheese salad, country beans with pine nuts, or puree of country stew) and a starch (spaghettini, potato gratin, or their signature hand-cut French fries).
If you are staying overnight, you’ll be treated to the breakfast portion of the Pear Bed & Breakfast, which is a feast not to be missed. From Jordan’s favorite coffee (which is deliciously dark and hearty) to the Brioche French Toast with Tahitian vanilla cinnamon butter and Vermont maple syrup, and side of Truffle Scrambled Eggs, you’ll start the day with a smile.
Can’t spend the night? Come back for Sunday Brunch, featuring Stonehouse Farm French egg omelette with cherry tomatoes and basil, $9; Inn Made Pancakes with honey whipped cream or Brioche French Toast with Tahitian vanilla cinnamon butter and maple syrup, $11; or Eggs Benedict, with fresh poached eggs, brioche toast, applewood smoked bacon, and hollandaise sauce, $14.
Upstairs at the Inn
The seven rooms of the Bartlett Pear Inn (including the Starkrimson Pear room, pictured right), are all named after pears, and each is uniquely decorated by Alice, who takes pride in giving each suite a special, personal touch.
“We really have fun playing with the pear theme,” she admits, noting that it was Jordan who chose the moniker. “Bartlett is my middle name, and he thought we make a great pair. He also uses pears in many of his dishes. That’s the story, and he loves to tell it. It is pretty sweet.”
So are the rooms, each unique, elegant, and charming. In addition to comfortable, down-covered beds, they include clean, private bathrooms, original wood floors, and a flat-screen TV. Best of all, though, is that at the end of each hallway is a common space that includes a comfy couch, perfect for curling up with a book. On warm days, opt to head out to the porch (on the first and second floors) to sip wine or coffee, and hold hands with the one you love.
That’s where we met Alan Taffel of Reston, VA, who says the Bartlett Pear Inn is one of the best getaways he’s found.
“My girlfriend and I were on our way back from Rehoboth and wanted to stop for a nice dinner, so we found this place online and asked for a reservation at 5,” he recalls. “We were told they didn’t open until 5:30, but to come along anyway. We were charmed by the hospitality, and especially the food, which is sublime. So now whenever we have a few extra days, we come here. This place is like the Inn at Little Washington, but with far greater value for your money. You don’t have to spend $1,000 a night, but for what you get, you’ll feel like you did.”
Newlywed Tara Haag was there with her new husband, courtesy of a wedding gift they received from dear friends.
“This place is the perfect spot to come after the wedding madness has ended and you are settling into your new life,” she says. “This is now the gift that I am going to give all my friends when they get married. We had a ball, and will definitely will come back again.”
The only question is which room to pick. Here’s a sampling of the rooms to choose from, courtesy of The Bartlett Pear’s website:
Starkrimson Pear, $165 / night (pictured above)
It takes intense skies for the Starkrimson Pear to ripen into a uniformly deep red color and form its sweet juices and floral aroma. Those same sky-stroked and ripened pear tones oblige the main décor for the Starkrimson paired twin bedroom. Dual iron beds with soft plush quilts and pillows offer double the treasure. Twin beds, complimentary breakfast, TV, phone, shower.
Forelle Pear, $210 / night
Just like the Forelle skin that freckles and blushes red in its ripening stages, so too, you will brighten when setting eyes on the perfectly positioned Forelle Pear room. Appointed with a queen bed and bistro corner, you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view through the historic front porch from this freshly accented white-and-blue room. Queen bed, complimentary breakfast, TV, phone, shower.
Comice Pear, $210 / night
Inspired by a garden view, the sheer caress of this room’s silky soft tones and creamy textures are not unlike this most popular of gift-giving pears. The pear’s plucky skin tones of breezy goldenrod, crisp apple green, and quiet crimson suggest a soothing sleep amidst a virtual orchard of goodies: dressing table for the Lady, cozy stuffed chair for the Gentleman, and a café table suited to both. Queen bed, complimentary breakfast, TV, phone, shower.
Green Anjour Pear, $235 / night
Bathed in shades of deep plum, lilac, and warm linen, this upstairs room blooms with texture in a hyacinth vine woven bed and wicker loveseat contrasted beautifully with a classic black-white-tile bath. Take a pampering soak in the tub and feel as soft as a green anjou pear when poached in red wine. (You may even get to taste one at dinner.) Enjoy a reading nook or a media corner to catch the news of the day if you even have a care at that moment. Queen bed, complimentary breakfast, TV, phone, soaking tub/shower.
Seckel Pear, $235 / night
A confection of amenities complements this room, named after the so-called sweetest of all pears—the small Seckel. Deep dormer windows invite the beauty of natural light to add to the getaway feel in this three-room queen suite that hosts an intimate private sitting room for reading, computing, gaming, or taking a stretch. Great for overnight or extra-lengthy stays. Queen bed, cot available, complimentary breakfast, TV, phone, shower.
Concorde Pear, $275 / night
You can tell it’s a Concorde pear if its neck is longer and slimmer and thus elegant, something like this room, which we describe as—if you will, pearky—and pleasant, and we’re not sticking our neck out to say it’s hugely popular with our guests. The Concorde pear hardly turns brown when it’s cut, unlike most fruit, and you won’t find much brown in our room either. Pretty pastels wall the bedroom and sitting area, and a separate room is for dressing or computing, along with a delightful, spacious—and of course—long-neck bathroom. King bed, complimentary breakfast, TV, phone, soaking tub/shower.
Bosc Pear, $310 / night
Light from the sumptuous floor-to-ceiling windows casts a naturally calming drama throughout our three-room, king-sized suite. Earthy tones of vanilla bean, toasted cinnamon, and warm sienna complement the room like the colors of a real Bosc pear. A grand four-poster iron bed hosts the promise of a rapturous sleep, and a loveseat in the sitting room invites conversation. King bed, pull-out loveseat available, complimentary breakfast, TV, phone, soaking tub/shower.