By Maxwell Tucker
249 Main Street
Rutland, MA 01543
Entering the small plaza directly off the Rutland Common, a friend and I found ourselves at the Tavern on the Common. The evening drive from downtown Worcester after a full day at work had been a relaxing one, full of just-changing foliage.
When we walked through the door, our immediate reaction was that we had just gotten way more than we’d bargained for; the deep terracotta walls, bordered with brick sections and offsetting a series of hand-painted murals depicting historic scenes of Rutland, were the perfect setting for this fall evening.
Passing the lounge area, complete with the long, polished bar, black lacquer baby grand piano and glowing fireplace, we slid into our booth and ordered beers on tap ~ a pint of Bass each ~ from the standard selection. To get us going while we perused the menu, we put in an order for fried calamari.
While looking over the homemade soups ~ spicy Black Bean, French Onion, and Clam Chowder ~ we kept one eye on the TV in the lounge so as not to miss the game and decided to go right for entrees and salads instead of starting with a cup of soup.
The calamari arrived almost immediately and was a very light and mild rendition of the dish, accompanied by a very nice cottage-cheese-consistency red pepper remoulade. Noses still buried in our menus, we noticed that the Early Bird (served between 5pm and 8pm) section offered a strong array of choices starting at only $10 ~ lasagna, fish and chips, chicken parm., you name it.
But we turned our attention to the main entrees and ~ passing on a selection of pizzas, sandwiches, and salads (including a wonderful-sounding Walnut Salmon Salad), my guest settles on the Shrimp and Scallops and I went for the Tavern’s signature dish, the White Marble Farm Pork Chop.
The shrimp and scallops were expertly prepared with a smooth touch to the scallops and a lightly braised quality to the shrimp. Both came sitting on a lemon thyme beurre blanc on top of a vegetable orzo.
My dinner was a uniquely prepared presentation. The fat pork chop came on the extended bone and was literally and completely wrapped in glazed apple wood bacon. Nicely cooked, and requiring the use of a large steak knife, it was coated with and sitting in an anisette veal glace Since I’m not a fan of broccoli (sorry, Mom!), I had opted for a virtual pile of twice mashed potatoes (red bliss with the skins on). This was such a great cool weather meal that it is reason enough for a return trip.
Soon, of course, the dessert tray made an appearance and, over two coffees, we split a slice of chocolate raspberry cake (with a wonderfully fudgy frosting) and an order of the specialty dessert, deep fried cheesecake quesadillas. These babies were squares of exactly that, wrapped and fried cheesecake accompanied by a smooth vanilla ice cream and dusted with cinnamon and sugar.
Overall, Rutland’s Tavern on the Common in Rutland was, to say the least, a very pleasant surprise, nestled in a quaint village common and offering a great atmosphere, a varied menu with entrees ranging from $8 to $18, and food that is right on the mark
Do yourself (and a guest!) a favor and head out to Rutland, enjoy the ride and take in some truly good tavern fare.