By Valerie Franchi, Contributing Writer
Grafton – The Grafton Inn has been a landmark on Grafton Common since 1805, and its appeal has only increased over the years as it has grown into a popular neighborhood spot for food, drinks and friendly service.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, my boyfriend and I visited the iconic Grafton Inn for lunch. We went at an off time – after the post-church crowd and before the early bird dinner-goers – to avoid a wait and were able to be seated right away.
The dining room has kept its colonial feel, but modernized it with clean lines and simple and tasteful antique décor. The gas fireplaces add a homey and inviting touch.
Our attentive server took our drink orders while we perused the menu. The inn has an extensive selection of wines, draft and bottled beers, and liquors to accompany your meal.
To start, we decided to try the southern fried pickles, since we didn’t want to stuff ourselves on appetizers. They were perfectly dill and crispy, and the wasabi dipping sauce added just the right amount of kick. Other selections included pub staples such as fried calamari, potato skins, chicken wings and nachos. One of the more unusual choices is the seared sesame ahi tuna served with seaweed salad which owner John Pardee said has been one of the most popular on the menu since it was introduced. There are also a variety of soups and salads to begin the meal.
For the main course, I chose the chicken pot pie which as exactly as advertised: “tender white chicken meat crowded in a crock .topped with a flaky puff pastry.” It came steaming hot and delicious, the pastry giving it a different take on the traditional pot pie crust.
My boyfriend, as usual, chose the steak – a 12 oz. New York strip – cooked just how he likes it and very lightly seasoned allowing the flavor to come through. It was served with a baked potato and tender summer squash. Both of our entrees came with side salads.
In addition to poultry and stockyard choices, the menu offered seafood and pasta options as well as daily specials. On our visit, the specials were stuffed shells and chicken cacciatore.
For a smaller dinner or lunch, there are sandwiches and grilled pizzas, both traditional and original. The lobster BLT and garlic “loaded” potato pizza tempt the palate with variations on more standard fare.
The prices are reasonable; all entrees are under $20 and come with sides.
My boyfriend and I were too stuffed to try dessert, but the cakes, ice cream and especially owner, Laurie Pardee’s “famous homemade pies” sounded amazing. The flavors change seasonally and “are always made with the freshest ingredients,” the menu states. We will have to return just for coffee and dessert next time!
Adjacent to the dining room is the venue’s large, well-stocked bar area with televisions and Keno. John and Laurie Pardee, who have owned the inn since 2000, can often be found mingling with customers, extending a warm welcome to all of the patrons, new and old.
Grafton Inn is located at 25 Grafton Common. For more information and hours, visit www.grafton-inn.com.