My wife surprised me with a trip to the Inn for dinner. Until we left, I wasn't completely sure where we were going. She rightfully decided to find a more affordable place to stay, since $800 a night is extremely expensive. We ended up at 1812 Caledonia Farms B&B, which is another story entirely. At $140/night, it was quite a savings.
Overall, the every dish we ordered was creative, perfectly prepared, and quite delicious. That said, I have have enjoyed food that's equally as good (or better), and the entirety of the service did not rate 3 Michelin stars. We arrived a bit early, and thought we might have a cocktail at the bar. Since I didn't have time to do any research, I didn't realize the bar is essentially a small waiting area. Nonetheless, we were escorted to our table, which was past the main dining room. I think the area overlooked the court yard--a fire pit was visible outside. Unfortunately, we were seated at a very odd corner table. I say "odd" because there was simply no way for one of the diners to sit directly in front of their place settings. My wife and I looked at one another, and quickly asked to be moved to another table. They moved us to the main dining room to a more conventional two-top.
Much more relaxed, we settled in, looking forward to a wonderful experience. We indicated we would like to enjoy cocktails before we started, and quickly found out our primary server was less than engaging. We asked for recommendations, and our server replied simply with "it depends what you like", and nothing more. Again, very unexpected. My wife had read about the truffled popcorn, and we asked if that was available. A bit later, two boxes appeared. It wasn't revolutionary, but it was quite good. I believe the popcorn is normally topped with black truffle shavings, but that wasn't the case with ours. Both of our cocktails were exceptionally well-prepared and delicious. (One was a riff on a gin cocktail, the other a play on a manhattan.)
I chose the "Out of the Blue" seafood menu, while my wife opted for "The Good Earth" vegetarian selection, substituting a couple of vegetarian dishes for selections from the other menus. Each menu is $238. As anyone who has been to the Inn knows, the wine list is massive. My wife opted for a single glass, since she was driving, and I opted for the $175 wine pairing. We asked our server for a wine that might carry through my wife's meal, and she decided on a Grenache, which was around $30 per glass.
The next "misstep" occurred when the sommelier appeared with my first glass (L. Aubrey Fils, 1er Cru, Jouy-les-Reims, Champagne, France (N.V.) She very briefly described the champagne, but I thought it was very perfunctory. Our cocktail glasses were still half full, so I'm not sure why they decided to begin the dinner service.
We both enjoyed a couple of small amuse-bouche, which were quite delicious. Following those, we were presented with a gruyere gougeres and a shot glass of a wonderful cheese soup, enhanced with country ham. Amazing.
When our waiter returned, I mentioned that we were in no hurry, and we would like a more leisurely pace. To his credit, the pace of the meal slowed down.
Overall, each of the paired wines was a great match for my food, and even though my glasses were never topped off, I thought the relative value was reasonable. That said, the sommelier was going through the motions, only appearing briefly to pour the wines, but never asking what I thought, etc. I'm barely a wine novice, but I've had many more enjoyable interactions with sommeliers at other restaurants.
While our server was a bit of a dud, there were plenty of staff members who were funny and engaging. The lack of consistency was a bit puzzling.
Based upon our experience, I've enjoyed more value for the money at other places. Two cocktails, a wine pairing, a glass of wine, and two dinners cost $798 before gratuity. (OBTW, two small containers of the truffled popcorn were $12. Each.
On to a few food pictures:
A Quartet of "Wellfleet Oysters" in Champagne SabayonSpectacular. Very rich and decadent. Paired with the champagne mentioned above.
Chilled Baby Leeks with Black Truffle Remoulade. My wife's favorite dish.
A "Star-Kissed" Tuna and Foie Gras Confit. Exceptionally delicious. Rich, velvety and savory. Paired with Domaine de la Bergerie, Le Grand Beaupreau Savennieres, Loire Valley, France (2-15)
A Turnip Tarte Tatin with Caramelized Onion and Triple Creme Cheese. (Vegetarian). Another highlight. We were informed this was on the menu for the first time. They asked for feedback, and it was all positive. Well balanced textures and flavors, with a perfect warm temperature.
Pan-Seared Maine Diver Scallop Perfumed with Curry and Calvados. Paired with Ebony, Chardonnay, Hive, Willamette Valley, Oregon (2014). This was a delightful dish as well. This is the first time I've seen a scallop served sliced. I'd be interested to know why they chose this method.
A Marriage of Virginia Bison: *Pepper-Crusted Tenderloin and Braised Short Rib with Seared Foie Gras and Black Truffle Reduction. My wife picked this from the gastronaut menu. I was amazed at the tenderness of the bison, because it was literally "melt in your mouth" texturally. For whatever reason, I enjoyed this dish more than my wife did. Simply outstanding.
A Duet of Lobster: Butter Poacched and Cabbage-Wrapped Maine Lobster with Caviar Beurre Blanc. Paired with Domain Blaine-Gagnard, Chassagne-Montrachet, La Boudriotte Premier Cru, Burgundy, France (2016). Another delicious dish. I was very impressed by the relatively plain looking cabbage wrapped lobster. The lobster filling may have been a type of lobster mousse. Delicate and delicious.
A Lilliputian Pomegranate and Maple Dreamsicle. We both received this. In hindsight, I should have received the listed Coconut Sorbet with Passionfruit and Ginger Granite. Very tasty nonetheless.
Apparently a Pear. Paired with Jorge Ordonez, Victoria #2, Moscatel, Malaga, Spain (2015) This dessert's reputation is well-deserved.
Chocolate-Hazlenut Mousse Napoleon. Light, but decadent.
Finally, a mystery. (Sort of). Both of these are water glasses. Initially, we both had clear water glasses, but without explanation, my wife's glass was removed and replaced with this oversized blue glass. I finally asked our waiter, who said it was a signal that my wife was not eating seafood. She had indicated she likes a very limited range of seafood (she ordered the scallops), but she obviously does not have an allergy. The glass was comically large. Can anyone help with a better explanation? (I'm not complaining--it was funny)