Jun 25, 2023 - Food and Drink

How Easton evolved from a small shore town to a dining destination

Bas Rouge restaurant in Easton. Photo: Nicole Franzen

Bas Rouge restaurant. Photo courtesy of Nicole Franzen

Easton has changed more than any other Eastern Shore town over the last decade — thanks largely to New York energy mogul Paul Prager, who's snapped up nearly half of the historic district's real estate and transformed its restaurant and entertainment scene.

Why it matters: Washingtonians flock to Annapolis and St. Michaels for waterfront charm, but now Easton is a destination unto itself.

  • That's especially true for food and beverage connoisseurs visiting the chic fleet of new restaurants, bars, and shops from Prager's Bluepoint Hospitality Group that feel more New York than Old Bay.

Catch up fast: Prager, a Naval Academy grad with an Easton-area "farm" (i.e., a 250-acre home peninsula) began in 2008 purchasing buildings — many vacant or dilapidated — in the historic district and fashioning them into the kind of places he'd patronize.

  • Sunflowers & Greens, a Parisian-style cafe and saladerie, opened first, followed by Bas Rouge in 2016. The luxurious nod to European restaurants offers tasting menus, a custom dessert cart, and destination-worthy wiener schnitzel.
  • It set the bar for what followed: The Stewart, a tartan Scotch and Champagne lounge; a coffee shop and juice-and-bone-broth bar; and Bonheur, a homemade ice cream and pie shop with English-style tea service on Fridays.
English-style tea at Bonheur and new pastry shop P. Bordier
Bonheur tea and chef Thomas Raquel at P. Bordier patisserie. Photos courtesy of Francine Zaslow and Scott Suchman.

The latest: In the past three years, Bluepoint has expanded. The Wardroom, an epicurean market, wine shop, and restaurant, opened with sandwiches and cheese-and-charcuterie boards by day, nighttime pastas, and a 24-bottle self-pour wine system for sampling Sancerre.

  • Also: Roma Ala Palla, a Roman-style pizza shop inspired by one in the Eataly marketplaces.
  • As of May: P. Bordier, a gorgeous pâtisserie and crêperie.

Who's who: Prager recruited top talents from New York and beyond to line Bluepoint's bench — a sommelier and fromager — in addition to core Eastern Shore creatives like head chef Harley Peet.

  • General manager Ben Chekroun, who spent 27 years at Michelin three-star stalwart Le Bernardin, leads the charge. He's newly joined by Eric Ripert's former pastry whiz, Thomas Raquel.
  • Guests can be equally high-profile. Oh hello, José.
Scotch service at The Wardroom. Photo: Scott Suchman
Scotch service at The Wardroom. Photo courtesy of Scott Suchman

Zoom out: Beyond restaurants, there's the Prager Family Center of the Arts, a renovated 19th-century church-turned-theater where visitors can catch Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero.

What's next: Prager is in the midst of a massive redevelopment project at the town's 18th-century port — an industrial area just outside the town center. So Easton may get that waterfront charm after all.

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