A weekend spent at Blantyre was lovely, quite wonderful
actually; however, a weekend just began to tempt the palate when it came to
experiencing the inspired cuisine of Executive Chef Christopher Brooks. This is
a passionate and inspired chef, dedicated to his craft, who goes the distance
to make dining a memorable experience. Everything is made in-house including
the delicious breads, smoked salmon and bacon, and the herbs are freshly cut
from their garden as needed; nothing is left to chance.
Blantyre, Lenox, Massachusetts
Although the late June 2010
weather in the Berkshires was delightful, neither too warm nor too cold, and
the Covered Terrace with its wicker cushioned chairs and chaises indeed looked
inviting, for our first night, we decided to sit in the Music Room to better
appreciate the music.
The Music Room was stunning
with its soaring ceiling; long windows opulently draped in pink fabric framed
the setting sun, potted palms in cachepots graced the long, rectangular room, a
golden harp stood in front of a window, marble fireplaces at either end of the
room flanked by sofas and delicate chairs invited intimate conversations. A grand
scale room, it was designed for elegant living with its rich collection of
paintings, gold sconces and sparkling crystal chandeliers, large center table with
an attractive enormous floral arrangement, a Tiffany lamp, antique furniture arranged
to maximize private seating areas, and a games table set for chess beckoned.
Keeping with the Blantyre tradition, we
relaxed with pre-dinner cocktails of a Rob Roy for Edward and a Sidecar for me,
gorgeously presented in antique etched crystal glasses accompanied by a silver
bowl filled with mixed nuts. The glasses recalled the golden age of the
cocktail hour, perfectly made, and attractively garnished.
Cocktails before Dinner
Tempting canapés followed,
two Asparagus Vichyssoises presented in demitasses, two tiny chicken wings with
rosemary and tarragon, and two halibut mousse on round toasts with salmon roe
presented on a silver tray, which we enjoyed as we perused the dinner and the
wine menu. Another part of the Blantyre tradition is having guests make their
dinner and wine selections before being seated in the Dining Room, so that once
seated, there is nothing more to do than relax and enjoy the evening.
Canapés before Dinner
Sommelier Luc Chevalier and Wine Director Christelle Cotar have
created an exceptional presentation of domestic and international wines in a 150-page
book that took us around the world. Wines are offered by the glass,
half-bottle, bottle, and large format bottles of magnums (1.5 liters),
jeroboams (double magnum - 3 liters), and imperials (5 - 6 liters), and there is
a good selection of alcohol-free wines. The impressive wine cellar boasts
19,000 bottles winning numerous awards and accolades, including the Wine
Spectator Grand Cellar 2009.
Sommelier Luc Chevalier
After leisurely enjoying our
cocktails and canapés, we were escorted into the wood-paneled dining room
illuminated by the soft glow of the chandelier and the tall ivory tapers in
silver candlesticks on the tables and were immediately impressed with the
gracious ambience. Classical music softly played in the background creating a
romantic setting, and sumptuous floral arrangements of pink roses, stock, and
snapdragons in footed silver bowls graced the elegantly set tables draped with
pink linens and matching napkins.
The Dining Room at Blantyre
We selected the Five Course Chef's
Surprise Tasting Menu with wine pairing, which gently awakened our taste buds beginning
with the amuse bouche, a lovely presentation of a local goat cheese with
pinenuts and herbs, and local beets on a citrus jam. Housemade bacon and
pistachio bread, oat bread, and white rolls, with fresh butter and Chef
Christopher's fabulous goat cheese and butter spread accompanied the amuse.
For our first course, there
was a sautéed cape diver scallop presented with quinoa, lemon, radish blini,
cucumber coulis, cucumber foam, and garnished with a tiny pansy, which
Sommelier Luc Chevalier, paired with two wines, a Riesling Kabinett, "Ürzinger
Würzgarten," Dr. Loosen, Mosel, Germany, 2006; and a Sauvignon Blanc, Dog Point
Vineyard, Marlborough, New Zealand, 2008. It was
interesting to compare these two very different wines, Dr. Loosen with peach,
slate, mineral, and citrus aromas, and slight honey overtones on the palate, and
Dog Point Vineyard with crisp, green apple and mineral aromas, and tartness on
the palate; yet each complemented the individual elements, the slightly salty
scallop, the texture of the quinoa, and the citrus acidity.
Cape Diver Scallop
Our second course consisted
of Spanish mackerel with fennel, pepper, eggplant, crispy socca made with
chickpea flour, and roasted tomatoes. This course was well paired with a
Viognier, DeMol, "Lia," Russian River Valley, California,
2006 with its vanilla aromas that provided a lovely counterbalance to the
fennel and fish.
For our third course, we went
on divergent roads, for Edward there was a New York strip loin with potatoes,
bordelaise sauce, and asparagus; for me there was potato puree in a pastry
shell topped with corn, green beans, wild mushrooms, herbs, and asparagus. Both
of our courses were paired with Grand Cru Classic, Château Lascombes, Margaux, Bordeaux, France
New York Strip Loin
The cheese course featured
Fiddlehead Tomme from New Hampshire presented with herbs lightly tossed with
balsamic and a selection of crackers that was well paired with Taylor Fladgate
20 year old Tawny Porto.
Dessert of yogurt and a
sugary cake with strawberries was elegantly paired with a glass of champagne.
As we were celebrating a very special anniversary, a rich and lovely chocolate
cake followed, with a white chocolate ribbon that read Happy Anniversary, and a
candle to make a wish on, presented on a ruffled glass plate trimmed with gold.
Desserts - Yogurt and Sugary Cake
& Anniversary Chocolate Cake
After dinner, we returned to
the Music Room where the pianist played a selection of romantic songs including
Moon River, Strangers in the Night, La Vie En Rose, and On the Street Where You Live from the movie, My Fair Lady.
Our second evening dining at Blantyre began with
pre-dinner cocktails in the Music Room with canapés of lobster presented on
silver forks, squares of crispy asparagus with creamy interiors, and halibut
mousse with salmon roe on round toasts.
Canapés before Dinner
Once again, the pianist set
the mood with romantic music from Love Story to jazz great, Dave Brubeck's
iconic Take Five, and to celebrate
our anniversary, Edward requested, Tom Jobim's Girl from Ipanema, which is my theme song. Not every night, or at
least not when at Blantyre, does one have the opportunity to
listen to a concert pianist play them a special song.
Chef Christopher Brooks and Team
Blantyre's focus is creating memorable experiences for their
guests, with each staff member contributing to that experience. A few of the
many people that make Blantyre memorable is Christina, gracious and personable,
who welcomes pre-dinner guests as if they were old friends; Sommelier Luc
Chevalier, charming, and sophisticated, who has exceptional wine knowledge that
he loves to share, and Chef Christopher Brooks who more than delivers what his
tempting and creative menu promises.
For our second night dining
at Blantyre, we
had dinner in the intimate Moiré Room; a small gem of a room decidedly feminine
in feel with its pale green silk moiré covered walls, matching window
treatments framing the French doors, with delicate petit-point carpet on the
wood floor. Intricately carved arches crowned the French doors, a painting in a
gilt frame graced the wall over the white marble fireplace, with Dresden figurines, and
matching floral vases on the mantle. Delicate arm chairs and a settee in a
corner upholstered in striped floral silk flanked the three tables draped with
pink linens, set with silver candlesticks with tall ivory tapers, stunning
floral arrangements of lilac roses, pink snapdragons, varying colors of stock,
and greens, and sparkling crystal. Low background music completed the romantic
Edward Enjoying Dinner
Chef Christopher Brooks began
our Five Course Chef's
Surprise Tasting Menu with wine pairing dinner with a delightful amuse bouche of a spicy fish soup made with sea
bass accompanied by a tiny twist of puff pastry sprinkled with cayenne and
pepper, paired with Puerto Fino Sherry, Lutau, Arcos, Jerez, Spain.
Fish Soup Amuse Bouche
For our first course there
was a seared diver scallop crowned with squid ink pasta filled with crabmeat
set in a pool of broth with diced heirloom tomatoes, tiny zucchini buttons, and
micro pea greens artistically arranged and garnished with a delicately crispy
zucchini flower, our first of the season. The zucchini flower recalled special
memories of Milan,
and the first time I had tasted this exquisite delicacy. Sommelier Luc Chevalier paired
this course with Poilly-Fumé, "Les Logères," Le Domaine Saget, Loire Valley,
France, 2005, with melon and tropical
fruit on the nose and palate, which complemented the seafood.
Scallop with Squid Ink Pasta
We diverged for our second
course, for Edward there was duck confit with seared foie gras, fresh black Mission fig, fig jam, and verjus and port reduction, and
for me, there was Spanish mackerel with chive sour cream and cucumber foam. Our
second courses were paired with Pinot Noir, Domaine Serene "Evanstad Reserve," Willamette Valley,
2005, which had dark fruit and jammy aromas on the nose, with enough tannins
and earthiness on the palate to complement the confit, as well as the mackerel.
For our third course, there
was creamy polenta kissed with cheese, a square of swiss chard,
a grilled quarter of a round baby eggplant, niçoise olives, and fennel puree
presented with rack of lamb for Edward and roasted sea bass for me. Both dishes
paired well with Raboso, Maestre de Campo, Mendoza, Argentina,
2003, which had an earthy nose and softer tannins, and although not as
aromatic, it was a very tasty wine.
Rack of Lamb Roasted Sea Bass
The cheese course consisted
of creamy camembert accompanied with slices of white peach and micro greens
with balsamic drops on the plate, presented with assorted crackers, and paired
with a lovely Domaine de la Motte Doux, Chateaux du Layon, Rochefort-Sur-Loire, France.
Dessert ended the dinner on a
high note with a luscious Black Forest
confection presented as a cylinder with thin, rich chocolate on the ends,
chocolate and vanilla, panna cotta in the middle, and garnished with a black
cherry and mint. Sommelier Luc Chevalier paired dessert with Mas Amiel, Cuvée
Spécial, 10 ans d'âge, Charles Dupry, Languedoc-Roussillon, France, 1979, which
had an enticing bouquet of ripe white peaches and honey that continued on the
Black Forest Cake
After dinner, we relaxed in
the Main Hall with a delectable glass of Morolo Grappa and Camomile Liqueur
made from chamomile infused grappa for 11 months, from Alba, Piedmont, Italy.
The dark paneled masculine room featured ornately carved chairs covered in rose
silk fabric, an intricate wood-beamed and plasterwork ceiling, a massive
fireplace, and a mantle graced with a collection of chinoiserie.
A heavy wood table held an
interesting collection of books, a refectory table held a selection of
magazines as well as after dinner coffee and tea, petit fours, and chocolates.
Plants and stunning floral arrangements added visual appeal, and a large
rocking horse complete with a wood sword perfect for a young knight added a
touch of whimsy to the room.
We ended the evening by taking
a romantic stroll under a full moon with fireflies dancing through the night
casting a magical spell over another perfect evening at Blantyre.
The Dining Room at Blantyre is open for lunch for outside guests
Wednesday through Sunday from 12:30
pm until 1:45 pm,
and for dinner Wednesday through Sunday from 5:45 pm until 7:45
pm. The restaurant is open daily for hotel guests with extended
hours for dining. Jackets and ties are required for gentlemen.
Read more about Blantyre in the Destinations, Hotels and Resorts,
Chefs' Recipes, Spas, and Luxury ProductsGifts -
The Dining Room at Blantyre
16 Blantyre Road
Lenox, Massachusetts 01240
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Berkshires, please visit the Berkshire Visitors Bureau website: www.Berkshires.org.
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