Anyone familiar with the Parent Teacher Store on Kingston’s North Front Street will be amazed at its transformation into the snazzy Frogmore Tavern, which opened August 21. Looking like it’s been there forever, the tavern has beams on the ceiling, wood paneling against dark green walls, and tapestry banquettes in the booths. There are seats at the bar, and more at a dining bar overlooking the big open kitchen. Square white dinner plates — so heavy, our server could only carry three empty ones at a time — look stylish against brown paper tablecloths. Add low lights and a happy buzz, and that’s the modern, pubby surroundings.
Niels Nielson, co-owner of Duo Bistro a couple of blocks away, teamed up with George and Emily Lewandowski to launch this new enterprise, serving New American comfort food. In this case, that includes some Southern comfort (oyster po’ boys, crayfish, grits and such), and a dash of British comfort in the form of Scotch eggs, a pub staple that you don’t often see on this side of the Atlantic.
Scotch eggs with a spicy mustard dip (left); seared swordfish with crawfish sherry cream, greens, and jambalaya cake
Even standards get interesting flourishes, so the grass-fed burger, for example, comes with pastrami, egg and smoked cheddar. At dinner, you can choose from small plates (like duck bacon-wrapped radicchio, crawfish popcorn, tomato bisque); medium plates (po’ boy sandwiches, Alaskan king crab with split marrow bone, chicken and waffles); or large plates (grilled rib-eye with beer bacon jam, green bean casserole and duck fried potatoes; Yankee saltimbocca; pork and beans). There are three rice bowls: Messy (vegan), Dirty (vegetarian) and Filthy (with smoked chicken, pork cheeks, pastrami or shrimp) and a weekly selection of house-made charcuterie. The lunch menu runs along the same lines.
Drinks include cocktails, wines by the glass, craft beers, tap beers, and beer flights for when you’re in a beer-tasting mood.
We went with our friend James, fresh from his triumphs in summer stock, and John, fresh from his own various triumphs, and each of us kicked off with a Scotch egg. As a Brit, I’m an expert on Scotch eggs, and these were terrific, encased in a very tasty house-made sausage. I also enjoyed my seared moist swordfish and jambalaya rice cake.
We had fun, too, so I don’t like to quibble. But… small type in gray ink on gray paper makes the menu really hard to read in low lighting. Black ink, maybe? Quibble two: This is an upscale tavern. Could we please get clean cutlery for the second course, instead of having our used knives and forks plonked back on the table? Quibble three: I love beignets, so don’t run out! I was so disappointed, I almost had to order another Scotch egg.
63 North Front St., Kingston
P.S. After four-and-a-half years on the trail of all that’s tasty, this will be my last bulletin as the Accidental Foodie. Farewell, readers! Eat real food!