WEST CORNWALL, CT – Breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner is once again being served footsteps away from the scenic covered bridge over the Housatonic River.
In the space where the Wandering Moose once operated, a new eatery called Pearly’s Farmhouse Cafe opened on Oct. 3. It’s owned by Sean and Justina Aylmer, who moved cross-state from Marlborough, CT to get into the restaurant biz.
“It’s been a dream of mine for 30 years,” Sean said Thursday as he crafted morning orders on the grill. “It’s always been pushed to the side.”
That is, until he and his wife spied an ad on Craigslist earlier this year for the vacant space. The Wandering Moose closed in February. “We looked at the distance. That’s the first thing we did,” he recalled . West Cornwall seemed a bit too far away to consider, but “we decided to take a Saturday afternoon drive. Three months later, we’re standing here.”
Pearly’s Farmhouse Cafe is “still a work in progress,” according to Sean, but it is already drawing attention despite the fact it’s not 100 percent finished yet. So far the kitchen has been redone and the front of the house updated, although a second dining room separate from the grill room has yet to open.
As for the ingredients, Sean reported, “As much as I can, I’m doing local.” The restaurant serves eggs from a farm in Lebanon, CT and Ashlawn Farm Coffee from Old Saybrook, which my riding buddy singled out as being exceptional. He also enjoyed the Eggs Benedict, which he ordered with a sausage patty instead of the traditional English muffin.
Sean has a life-long passion for food. “I’ve been into food since I was 15,” he said. He studied at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, and then spent 13 years in the military – four in the Marine Corps, six as a reservist, and three in the Army. He cooked while in the Army and one day asked his staff sergeant if he could demonstrate his baking skills.
What he created was a cake with “Pearly’s” written across the top, signaling the name for the restaurant that he planned to someday own. “Pearly was a real person,” he said, recalling that when he was a child his mother used to teach him cooking and tell of a nearby chicken farmer whose sole culinary skill involved browning turkey skin once a year. Sean’s mother died when he was 21, and the Pearly name is a way of keeping his memory of her alive.
The Wandering Moose was a favorite stopping point for riders, and Pearly’s Farmhouse Cafe will likely be, too. It features especially tasty bacon that is made in-house. Sean also reported, “I bake the breads fresh every morning.”
The restaurant is closed Monday, but opens at 7 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Lunch is served until 3 p.m. and dinner is served until 9 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Pearly’s Farmhouse Cafe closes at 5 p.m. on Sunday.