It was a beautiful afternoon for a spring garden party - baskets of cheerful yellow and white pansies hung around the courtyard, large trumpet azaleas were bursting in bloom and a slight breeze teased the napkins and tablecloths.
It wasn't billed as a spring garden party, but my recent lunch at the Smithfield Inn felt like it. My outdoor table was covered in a white cloth with buttery yellow napkins complementing the yellow Inn and its white columns.
The day called for something light and refreshing: Passion Shrimp Salad. Eight chilled shrimp, with tails, encircled salad greens topped with sliced strawberries and poached pears. A liberal sprinkling of chopped pecans was added and the dish was dressed with honey-lavender vinaigrette. The pear was the defining taste that created this outstanding salad. Chef Jon Olinger let me in on the secret to the pears: pinot noir and spices.
The dish was a delight to the eyes as well as to the taste; a delightful choice in a delightful setting.
Other lunch guests were dining on the day's two additional features: a roasted vegetable quesadilla and the soup and sandwich combination of oyster chowder and grilled peppered bacon and provolone sandwich.
The portions were more than generous, making it difficult to save room for dessert: tantalizing creamy coconut cheesecake or hummingbird cake. I suppose I could have returned later in the day for a slice of cake and a cup of tea. I'll plan better next time.
Smithfield Inn's regular lunch menu includes crab cake, chicken pot pie and fish and chips. It's fully rounded out with a variety of appetizers, soups, salads and sandwiches. Naturally, Smithfield ham flavors many of the selections.
The pure, unadulterated Smithfield Ham Roll is available with both yeast and sweet potato rolls. You will find ham in the Inn House Salad, making it far from ordinary. It's also featured on the club sandwich and on the Fried Green Tomato BLT.