The Lafayette House is a landmark on Route 1, with a 229-year history that counts Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Lafayette himself among its visitors. A more recent legend, Ted Williams, also dined here because it was quiet and the staff gave him extra helpings of meat.
On a recent Saturday afternoon, my traveling companion and I found the place almost empty. When we walked through the front door, we immediately felt like we were in someone else’s house. The ambience was quiet, almost somber.
We peeked inside one of the banquet rooms, where there was a stone fireplace and a bucket of pine cones sitting in the middle of the hearth. A large oil painting hanging over the mantel showed important-looking men wearing powdered wigs gathered around a dinner table. Perhaps it was a scene that took place here, long ago.
We headed to the pub. The interior was dark brown and wooden, like an old-time tavern. Antique menus in frames adorned the walls. Like the rest of the restaurant, its ceilings were low, and the dark walls and exposed beams made for a cozy atmosphere.
My companion and I strolled up to the curved bar. There were no seats or barstools, so we opted for a nearby table instead and perused the menu. We had arrived during lunch, and the menu featured a wide range of choices — chicken, steak, seafood, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, salads, pasta. As far as traditional, home-cooked American cuisine goes, the Lafayette House has it all.
Most of the appetizers cost $9. Choices include mussels, fried calamari, stuffed mushrooms, crab cakes, and buffalo chicken tenders. There was also shrimp cocktail for $11.
The teriyaki grilled salmon ($15) was accompanied by a generous scoop of scallion rice and julienne vegetables. The veggies were a delightful medley of celery, carrots, peppers, squash, and zucchini sliced into long, thin strips.
The spinach salad ($9) was fresh and looked lovely. Crisp rings of red onions sat atop a bed of fresh spinach, along with slices of grilled portabella mushrooms and roma tomatoes.
The chicken pot pie ($10) was served in a crock and arrived at our table steaming hot. The top crust was light and fluffy, just as it should be, and beneath that puffy pastry were chunks of roasted chicken, carrots, celery, and the occasional baby new potato or two swimming a bowl of chicken gravy. The gravy was on the thin side, so it was more like eating soup. And it could have used more veggies. But it turned out to be a tasty meal, nonetheless.
We noticed the lunch menu features many items from the dinner menu, but at a lower price. (The prime rib dinner, for example, costs $31; the prime rib lunch costs $16.) The dinner entrees come with a garden salad, potato, and vegetable.
The dinner menu is extensive. Seafood lovers will be happy with the teriyaki glazed salmon, scallion rice, and julienne vegetables ($26), steamed lobsters, scallops, swordfish, scrod, sesame tuna, and fish and chips.
Pasta dishes include shrimp scampi ($25), portabella mushroom raviolis ($23), and chicken and penne pasta ($23). Meat eaters can rejoice. The dinner menu includes carnivorous staples such as filet mignon ($33), New York sirloin ($30), parmesan lemon-crusted chicken ($22), veal marsala ($25), rack of lamb ($29), and liver and onions ($19).
We enjoyed our time at Lafayette House, and we both agreed it would be a nice place to bring your grandparents or other older relatives for a meal. For those who enjoy sunlight, there is an outdoor patio in the back with tables and umbrellas.
We finally ended our lunch at the Lafayette House with dessert. We tried the cheesecake, ($5) which didn’t have the rich, cheesy flavor we were expecting. It tasted more like sponge cake.
The chocolate mousse ($5) was served creatively in a chocolate tulip made of swirled milk and white chocolate. A waitress told us that this was her favorite dessert, with the tulip its best part. She was right about that edible flower-shaped cup, filled with chocolate mousse topped with a dollop of whipped cream. We broke off bits of the tulip and smiled as we ate the thin wisps of chocolate. Each piece was crisply sweet and delicious.Emily Sweeney can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.