The Ryland Inn located in Whitehouse Station, NJ has gone through many incarnations over the years. It was built in 1796 and started out as a home. After years as a family restaurant it spent several decades as a highly awarded destination dining spot. That seemed to come to an end in 2007 when it closed after a flood and financial problems. But under new ownership it was re-opened in 2012, reinvigorated and is once again a place diners should be clamoring to dine.
Frank and Jeanne Cretella the current owners have reinvigorated the place in more ways than one. The new design feels at once modern and timeless with a sense of comfort that is palpable the moment you walk in the door. They have brought Executive Chef Craig Polignano on board and he has crafted wonderful Farm to Table menus that lean heavily on in house creations and ingredients.
The very latest change at the Ryland Inn is Lunch. It's something the restaurant hasn't done before and they've just gotten it off the ground. I had the opportunity to dine there this week and I must say it was a delightful and distinctly delicious way to spend an afternoon.
First of all the service at The Ryland Inn is beyond reproach. It’s attentive and spot on while never being obtrusive. The staff is remarkably knowledgeable about each dish and can speak to them easily and clearly. Diners joining the Ryland Inn for Lunch have the option of a 3 course Prix Fixe menu at $36 or ordering ala carte from a menu that featured 8 appetizers, 10 entrees and 3 side dishes the day I visited.
We all started with Gin-Tuition a signature house cocktail that fit the rainy day I was there perfectly. I began my meal with the Grilled Flatbread which was topped with Porcini Mushrooms. Smoked Mozzarella, Mission Figs, and Arugula. This delightful combination hit the spot. The crust had just the right amount of bite to it and the toppings melded together in perfect symmetry. For my entrée I selected the House Smoked Turkey Breast Sandwich. It was served on a Seven Grain Loaf with Avocado, Brie and Cranberry Mayo. House made chips were served on the side. This was a Turkey Sandwich elevated to its highest possible form. It was delicious with a great balance of textures and flavors that harmonized together beautifully.
In addition I sampled bits of the Ryland Burger which was flawlessly cooked, juicy and as lip-smacking as one would expect a true Chef Burger to be. Along the way I also tried the Brussels Sprouts, Fries, and the House-Made Charcuterie Board as side dishes, each was well executed and distinctly tasty as well. Along with the meal my group put down 3 bottles of 2012 Stags’ Leap Petite Sirah. One Vintage after another they make one of the best and most iconic Petite Sirah’s in Napa Valley. The deep, brooding flavors perfectly matched the bounty on the table and the rainy fall weather.
Dessert was a bonanza of flavors that seemed to invade our table, just when we thought we couldn’t consume another bite. Thankfully we made room for a wide array of distinct offerings that included Peanut Butter Mousse, a carefully curated Cheese Plate, and my personal favorite Honey & Goat Cheese Custard.
The dishes I didn’t sample but observed such as Baby Beets Salad, Carnaroli Risotto, and Autumn Squash Salad looked equally delightful and will be more than enough incentive for a return visit.
The Ryland Inn is tucked away and the surrounding property and atmosphere are serene, but it’s easy to get to and upon arrival you’ll relax instantly. The vibe inside is welcoming with design flourishes that are classic, modern and enduring all at once. The service is simply perfect and the food is making my mouth water days later. Food prices are more than fair for the quality and creativity on the plates. The wine list is diverse and interesting with a combination of stalwart and vanguard producers sitting side by side and the costs are also reasonable. The Signature cocktail selection is also creative and the one I sampled was delicious. If you’re local to The Ryland Inn, lunch there is a no-brainer. If you’re at a distance this is the NJ Lunch Destination that should be at the very top of your list. Book a holiday party there for yourself and your co-workers or while a few hours away with a friend and let The Ryland Inn take care of you; I’m so glad I did.