When the food is farm fresh and the staff is dedicated to sourcing it, you know your meal is going to be a good one.
“Focusing on local ingredients really does mean that you’re getting the best products and the freshest products. And we just feel that that makes such a huge difference on the plate.”
And they’re making a difference in the way people dine, one plate at a time at Grove.
Located on the grounds of the Briar Barn Inn in Rowley, Massachusetts, Grove is a farm to table restaurant set in this open airy barn with a rustic New England feel.
“The first thing you’ll notice is we have this beautiful white barn when you drive up. When guests walk in, they immediately usually look up to see those beautiful chandelier. They’re black wrought iron chandeliers that make a big statement. We also have post and beam construction that really does feel and is authentic. And to keep things feeling really true to the area, we’ve incorporated artwork, antiques, and authentic farmhouse textures to the restaurant.”
That’s Sarah Boucher. She, Executive Chef Ben Lightbody and their team have come together to create a space in a farmhouse setting with a menu that is truly farm to table.
“We try to we try to put out the best product we can. And I think it makes a huge difference.
You can really see the liveliness in produce that’s been harvested that morning opposed to being driven across country on a trailer, it really makes a huge difference, the vibrant colors, the textures, pretty much everything is affected by how fresh and how locally it comes.”
And while the place looks stylish and sophisticated, Chef Ben has created a menu that accommodates any appetite.
“I try to make it both approachable, but at the same time offering something that might be a little bit different and a little bit out of the normal person’s comfort zone. Broaden horizons, but also give them something they can relate to as well.”
You’ll find that many of your favorites line the appetizer section of Grove’s menu, like these wings slathered in a Korean BBQ sauce.
“It’s a Korean barbecue sauce. So it’s made with gochujang chile paste. It’s got sesame oil, ginger, shallots, garlic. It’s fried almost like Korean style bonchon chicken. And sopped with a little bit of sesame seeds and some local scallions. I love them. They got some good bite to them you definitely know you’re eating them. There’s enough heat there that it keeps you going. You want a nice beer with it but they’re good.”
It’s hard not to get nostalgic when you order the tots but these elevated spuds are cooked in duckfat something I doubt your school cafeteria had.
“I like to call them the adult version of tater tots. They are very sophisticated in their own way even though the name tots kind of brings you back to your childhood. They have that perfect crunch. But on the inside you realize there’s so much more than just the tater tots who might have grown up with. They’re aromatic..and salty and creamy all at the same time and just really rich, tasty.”
Since you’re on the North Shore, seafood is a must. There are Baked Oysters with a flavor packed garlic butter. And one of the best clam chowders around.
“I love clam chowder. So for me the perfect clam chowder is not too runny. It’s not too thick, and it’s full of flavor. I think our clam chowder really hits the mark perfectly on that front. Full of flavor. Full of fresh clams and you really can tell the difference.
The other thing I really like about our clam chowder is the housemade cracker. It’s crunchy. It’s a just the perfect bite.”
If you’re looking for something handheld, there’s the 10 ounce burger topped with bacon jam, pickled chiles and cheddar.
And a fried chicken sandwich that is near and dear to Chef Ben’s heart.
“I love it. I’m a big fan of the fried chicken sandwich. That was one that I specifically wanted to put on there. It’s topped with our housemade black garlic chipotle bbq sauce. It’s chicken thighs that we rub in a barbecue rub. And then we really slow poach…and then we fry them in a cornmeal based batter so they get nice and crunchy. And then served on that same great brioche bun.
So you get the light fluffy bun Get the crunchy chicken, and then you get a little bit of heat from that chipotle black garlic sauce.”
The entrees at Grove are exquisite with fresh monkfish served over a smoked potato puree with fried shishito peppers.
Perfectly prepared steak frites smothered in caramelized onions.
And a seasonal free form lobster lasagna.
“We make all the pastas in house we try to use all farm fresh eggs for it. We serve this one with a full one and a quarter hard shell Maine lobster. The sauce for the dishes made with the bodies from the lobster. It has cream, aromatics, some brandy and then a little bit of tomato in it as well and then it’s topped with some housemade brioche bread crumbs, a tomato marmalade and some tarragon. It’s everything you could want in a pasta dish.”
And before you leave Grove, dessert is definitely in order with offerings like the Panna Cotta topped with a yuzu sorbet.
And this decadent chocolate cake.
“The chocolate cake is awesome. I use cake very liberally with it. It’s almost like a fudge brownie meets cake. We serve it with some creme anglais, and a little bit of raspberry coulis with a housemade tuille and some whipped cream. It’s a good way to end the meal.”
And for this team, there’s nothing better than seeing their customers leave happy, after all the work they put in to make each dish as farm fresh as they possibly can.
“I want them to feel connected with the area connected with the restaurant understand where their food is coming from…and most importantly, leave happy and full.”