The Rye Tavern, Plymouth, MA

The September sunshine on the meadow was descending into beautiful twilight. The setting, which had been rural in my youth, has been grudgingly set aside by developers and is surrounded by golf courses and condos. Even the dusty road had been preserved like an artifact in a museum.

The hostess at the Rye Tavern inquired whether I would like to eat indoors or dine al fresco. It was a decision I was certain to get wrong. The air conditioning inside the historic eatery, a godsend perhaps on sultry nights, gave the place a dank atmosphere evoking dripping stalactites and fluttering bats. I made my doomed choice, and Annette and I were seated on the patio. The gentle breeze that fluttered our menus foreshadowed a night wind. I was comfortable in a suit jacket and tie, but Annette was cold, and we moved inside.

When reviewing Stone Soup, the restaurant that previously occupied the space, I wrote, "You may notice a slight ripple in the space-time continuum when a server moves from (the modern kitchen) into the dining room, which has wide floorboards, hewn beams, a tin ceiling, and a fireplace." Changes have been made. The kitchen is no longer so plainly in view, but behind a bar a huge TV displayed a golf game so despite the surrounding shrubbery the true atmosphere of The Pine Hills prevailed.

As the restaurant filled, the warmth of humanity displaced the chill, but the sound of voices became defining. Women, exhilarated by cocktails and wine squealed with laughter, and assertive men raised their voices to be heard over the din. Relaxed dining and civilized conversation were impossible.

As for the meal, my martini was perfect and the service was excellent. I began with clam chowder, which turned out to be a base of cream and potatoes topped with fragments of fried clams. It was better than it sounds, but it won't replace the traditional version on chilly nights. My pork chop was done exactly as I had requested. This is something achieved these days in only the better restaurants, and I offer my compliments to whoever cooked it. The topping of pepper jelly isn't something I'll imitate at home, but it did no harm.

You may find this report a bit scanty but I'm basing it on one visit. I think you'll find the food innovative and good. The atmosphere is such that we skipped dessert, and won't be back. I recommend thick carpets and heavy drapes to deaden the sound. My daughter the museum curator will skin me if she reads this, but they might even replace the vintage ceiling with acoustical tile. I'm with Aesop who wrote, "A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety."

Rye lunch

We went there for lunch today. It was a very cold, very windy, sunny November day. The bar was busy, but the restaurant was not at all crowded so we had our choice of window seats.

I had a burger of grass-fed beef from Maine with truffled french fries and a glass of Mayflower Autumn heat Ale. It was 1:30pm but they were still on the brunch menu, so Lorna had a "breakfast skillet" of scrambled eggs layered on top of goat cheese and warm salmon, on top of a layer of potatoes. We both enjoyed our meals. The Autumn Wheat Ale and the truffled fries stole the show - they went beautifully together. I posted photos to Foodspotting.

The bar is excellent for a small place. I was happy to see Vermont's Green Mountain Organic Gin on the bar. They have some interesting cocktails and they have the fixings to make more, but the manager says he wants to replace some of the more esoteric, wonderful, rare bottles with more Bourbons and Scotches. I think that would be a mistake (once I have found a bar where I can get a rare and excellent Bourbon, I don't need three more of them) but it's his business. I hope the bar does not go downhill - right now it's a destination.

I guess in the end the trick is to go when it's not crowded. The quality was very good and the service was very good, and the ambience was too.

Rye Tavern


I have eaten there several times and find Richmond's comments on point. The restaurant is warm and cozy but it is almost impossible to have a civilized conversation. Richmond described it perfectly.

The food is very good. There is a lot of creativity in their menu. The portions are hearty. Just don't get the steak. I have tried a few times with the same disappointing results. While the steak flavor is very good with a good balance of salt and spice, it has always been tough and gristly.

A quaint, out of the way place that serves reasonably priced good food.