MANOMET - Down a dirt road, through a forest of pine trees, and across a field lies a quaint cottage known as the Rye Tavern.
"It's a little house that we converted it in to the restaurant," Chef Joanna Farrar explained. "It was built in the late 1700s so it kind of blends in."
This one a kind of eatery in the Manomet section of Plymouth is truly the definition of a Hidden Jewel, 'hidden' being the operative word.
"It's actually on the oldest road in the nation, which is unpaved. It is dirt through and through and we always hear that people think they're lost when they're getting here. We answer countless phone calls about directions and 'how do we get here' and 'we think we're lost.' And then all of a sudden it's like, 'we're here we're pulling in.'"
Once you actually find Rye Tavern, you'll be greeted by a cozy, rustic dining room and a warm, welcoming patio for outdoor dining when the weather is nice. It all overlooks a garden where Farrar and her team source fresh herbs and vegetables.
"It's a 2,100 square foot garden, ever expanding, ever growing. We rotate the crops in here, so as soon as we pull one out we drop another one in."
That means the creamed spinach served alongside the Marinated Flat Iron Steak, travelled all of ten feet before it hit the sauté pan. It might be a labor intensive process, but to Joanna it's absolutely necessary.
"I'd rather go through all this trouble to know that I'm eating food that's grown locally and not stored and shipped. It just feels that much better. Its tastes 100 times better. It's a huge difference from, say, something that you're buying in the store."
While they're serious about what they serve, there is nothing pretentious about the menu.
"It's food that I grew up eating, food that your mom cooks; definitely food that everyone is going to recognize."
There are juicy burgers served on buttery brioche topped with Vermont cheddar cheese and apple wood smoked bacon. Mussels come soaking in a white wine broth spiked with salty speck and garlic. And chicken is cooked perfectly under a brick and served alongside goat cheese mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus.
"Literally it's cooked under a brick," Farrar said. "It's a chicken breast that we simply salt and pepper and put in a hot pan with a brick on top of it and that helps to sear the skin and sear all the flavors in and keep the juices in. As we bring it up to the table people are always joking, 'Where's the brick?'"
Rye Tavern's deconstructed clam chowder definitely looks original, but it embodies all of those ingredients you grew up with.
"It's a fun twist, a fun presentation, to include all of the ingredients that we know as chowder. So rather than chunks of potatoes, we actually put mashed potato that we mix with a triple smoked bacon and top it with a cream and clam broth, and then top it with three crispy fried whole belly clams."
Since both Joanna and her sous chef husband, Payson, are Maine natives, blueberries are used both in the beverages and on the ribs slathered in Payson's blueberry based barbecue sauce.
"He starts with fresh Maine blueberries for his barbecue sauce, sautés them with garlic and onion and then we use Sea Dog Brewery -beer. Then he adds about a million spices. It definitely has a nice blueberry flavor to it."
"The ribs fall right off the bone," Payson said. "They're just a little spicy. They have a little cayenne, just to let you know it's there, and a little sweet at the end."
If that ending isn't sweet enough, the Toffee Blondie Sundae is sure to spike your sugar levels.
"It comes out in this little cast iron skillet which people love," said Joanna. "It's a nice soft, cakey, gooey brownie that we heat up with white chocolate, and it has heath bar bits in it, and then we top it with vanilla ice cream, a housemade toffee sauce and whipped cream."
Farm to table cooking is something that's in Joanna's blood, and she strives to bring that same level of love and dedication to her customers every day.
"I do love what I do, and to be able to come to work every day and a place that's so serene and so much like where I grew up, and just standing for everything that I believe in makes it that much easier.
"It's really just the way that it was meant to be."
Rye Tavern is at 517 Old Sandwich Road in Plymouth, or online at ryetavern.com.
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