Ever since stagecoach days, the Tewksbury Inn, dating to 1788, has provided travelers with sustenance and comfort. But it’s a safe bet you couldn’t always get butter-poached lobster there. Now you can, along with scallop and shrimp seviche and crème fraîche cheesecake with caramelized pineapple. The food is deftly prepared, the service is spot-on, and the country setting prompts musings about a simpler time when roast chicken dripped pan juices, not thyme-infused jus.
Credit chef Chris Quintile, 40, whose early interest in graphic art was eclipsed by a desire to follow the muse of cooking. An initial eight-year stint at the inn culminated in his becoming sous-chef. He then moved to Chicago, eventually becoming executive chef of the W Hotel. In 2004, he returned to the Tewksbury Inn, he says, for the opportunity and because, “I love New Jersey.”
Locals affectionately call the inn The Tewks. Many vegetables come from nearby Melick’s Town Farm. The menu includes classic as well as contemporary dishes. The former include excellent French onion soup and delicately crisp, cornmeal-coated fried calamari with lemon aioli. Seviche was artfully presented—a pyramid of tasty diced scallops and wild-caught Gulf shrimp framed by perfectly cooked asparagus wrapped in thin slices of jicama. Trendy butter-poached lobster was presented out of the shell with an unabashedly rich tarragon-butter sauce—a winning combination.
There were some misses. A salad of mixed greens had far too little of the featured ingredients: fresh English peas and prosciutto with mint vinaigrette. A greasy single crostino marred the Caesar salad; leaving the romaine leaves whole muted the dressing’s flavor. Small, pretty Vietnamese spring rolls came with three dipping sauces (soy, peanut, and roasted garlic-chili), all quite bland.
Noteworthy entrées included one that could have been there in 1788, roast chicken. With crisp skin and meat moist with that rich thyme-infused jus, the superb bird came with fluffy olive oil-whipped potatoes and just-wilted spinach. A honey-glazed pork chop was succulent and juicy.
On the other hand, perfect grilled salmon, slightly rosy in the center, was served with a green-pea emulsion that looking striking but needed seasoning. Spicy-sweet carrot-ginger sauce, slices of fried carrot, and a delectable bacon, corn, and tomato ragout accompanied an unfortunately overcooked Alaskan halibut.
For dessert, the crème fraîche cheesecake with caramelized pineapple seductively balanced sweetness and acidity. The chocolate pudding was a delightful (read: not overly sweet) creation. Warm, creamy rice pudding served en cocotte, in a miniature casserole, was topped by a brûlée-like glaze of caramelized sugar for a pleasing crunch.Click here to leave a comment
Cuisine Type:American - Modern