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We opted for the latter and were well rewarded. The Catoctin Creek old fashioned was outstanding, bearing a strip of shaved orange peel like a badge of honor, the mildly sweet yet deceptively potent potable washing over our gullet with each tilt of the gently perspiring glass.A Feast for the Senses
When it comes to enticing nosh, Marron can go big or small, depending on your mood.
The full bar carte includes: spicy-sweet, house-made beer nuts (dusted with Old Bay); pommes frites; truffle frites; Old Bay popcorn; truffle popcorn; blue crab croquettes; a seafood platter featuring fried oysters and clams flanked by asparagus, lemon and fennel; an astonishingly addictive pickle plate; mixed mussels (classic, chorizo-spiked); chilled oysters with marionette; shrimp cocktail with Marie rose; and a pair of mouthwatering gourmet burgers.
The eponymous pickle plate was the all-around favorite. The generous spread included hearty slices of pumpernickel, scorching hot whole-grain mustard (outstanding), pickled eggs, mini gherkins, preserved onions (brilliantly piquant), pickled green beans (tangy-sweet), pickle chips (tart and refreshing), cauliflower (crisp and face-puckering) and celery (sour but comforting) handsomely arranged in a handsome cast-iron crock.
A trio of palm-sized croquettes summoned cheerful bites of savory blue crab married to sweet corn. The underlying remoulade — whipped together from Old Bay, Gordy’s Sweet pickle chips and leftover brine — adds creaminess and spice.
Fried oysters are small but plump and perhaps a shade over-breaded (falls off in clumps into clinging jam). But the accompanying tomato jam, which Marron says he’s been perfecting since his Jackson 20 days, is a knockout. The intoxicating spread features chewy bits of perfectly preserved sweet summer fruit still bursting with vitality.
“In the summer we use fresh tomatoes, and in the winter we use canned whole tomatoes mixed with some sun dried,” Marron said of his now-evergreen condiment. “We try and can and dry as many tomatoes as possible so we can make use of them through the winter, but we can never get enough.”
And while it’s not part of the happy-hour program per se, the onion soup burger is sure to make meat eaters smile. The two-handed delight features a half-pound-plus patty forged from a mix of ground-chuck and rib-eye beef (the contributing cows bred on a clutch of small farms in the Shenandoah Valley). The cooked-to-order beef arrives sandwiched between twin layers of dairy — gooey melted Swiss up top (bolstered by sultry stewed onions) and ripe, runny comte below — all surrounded by a soft, chewy onion-laced bun.
For maximum enjoyment, we recommend taking your meal and drinks out on Poste’s splendid patio — a seasonal perch that staff said will remain open as long as possible.
Marron’s keeping it extra local this weekend, serving up select seafood and regional brews during the second annual Oysterstock. The fundraiser, which benefits the Oyster Recovery Partnership, is scheduled for 3-6 p.m. Sunday and will feature food (grilled oysters, spit-roasted pork, lamb-laced mac and cheese), drink (oyster shooters, Port City Brewing’s oyster stout, Watershed Rickeys featuring Catoctin Creek gin) and live music (Wes Tucker & the Skillets, The WeatherVanes, The Reserves).
Tickets to Oysterstock are $85 and are available through Eventbrite (oysterstock2013.eventbrite.com).