The idea that an historic New England Inn has it own farm (Twin Lakes Farm), four miles down a country road from its perch on a beautiful village green, caught my attention. With a creative chef, David Miller, trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Poughkeepsie, NY, The White Hart in Salisbury, Connecticut became an irresistible destination for a special occasion meal on a Saturday night over Labor Day weekend. The White Hart is a beautiful inn dating back to 1806. Although dining on one of its porches overlooking the village green had appeal, we decided to settle into a comfortable table in the main dining room, though this decision was not easily made because we had the option of dining in a wonderful old tavern area of the Inn, which seemed cozier than the main dining room. Still, with seating looking out on the village green through multi-paned windows, the setting was perfect for an enjoyable dinner. Special mention should be made of the wonderful landscape paintings on the walls of the main dining room. The scenes of nature’s beauty, in their antique-looking frames, might have been painted in the 19th century and could be hanging in the wonderful room of Hudson River paintings in Albany, New York’s Institute of History and Art. The plein air artist, Emily Buchanan, has created an atmosphere of New England rural beauty for the pleasure of dinner guests and staff at The White Hart (www.emilybuchanan.com).
The food at The White Hart combines an artistic presentation (with the food sometimes exhibiting sculptural tendencies on the plate), with the freshest of seasonal ingredients and creative light sauces. The food is centered and served on surprisingly modern, bone-white china, which works to spotlight the food in the environs of an old New England inn. My appetizer of yellow squash and fresh mozzarella cheese with a tomato-base sauce was served in a colorful tower of yellow, white and red, which I quickly dismantled and enjoyed. The squash was perfectly prepared, grilled slightly to an al dente, with the lightest and freshest mozzarella and a flavorful tomato sauce. The taste of the ingredients lingered on the palate in an almost magical way. Appetizers of a lightly dressed (black currant champagne vinaigrette) salad of seasonal greens and a purple pepper stuffed with a mixture of ground beef and pork, sourced from the Inn’s Twin Lakes Farm, and basmati rice pleased my dining companions. The purple pepper rivaled my tower of squash in its artistic presentation on the plate. Care was taken as well in how the salad of seasonal greens was piled in the bowl, and the freshest tomatoes and goat cheese lightly flavored the greens. Food as art was clearly going to be a theme for a remarkable meal of fresh, carefully prepared dishes.
The entrees pleased us all including the two of us who rarely eat meat. My local pork tenderloin was perfectly prepared, tender and moist with its licorice-like flavor from a creative “ouzo [the famous Greek aperitif] carrot mango reduction sauce” and “fennel pollen encrusting.” A glass of Pinot Noir from nearby Millbrook Winery in Millbrook (Dutchess County), NY, with its velvety texture and lush berry aroma, complimented this distinctively flavored pork dish. One of my dining companions enjoyed her tender beef short ribs, sourced from the Inn’s Twin Lakes Farm, and braised in a rioja and wild currant sauce. The Hudson Valley sourced duck breast pleased the palate of a duck connoisseur who explained that the flavor of the duck was not overpowered by the light sauce, with its citrus accents.
Desserts of wonderful peach sorbet, which was ice-cream like in its dairy-richness, served over fresh blueberries and strawberries, and a berry cobbler were perfect sweet endings to a memorable meal. We dined for approximately $65.00 per person, which included the cost of a glass of wine for each and gratuity (FWB 9/5/10). [The White Hart, 15 Undermountain Road, Salisbury, Ct., 860.435.0030, Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner: Daily 7:00AM-9:00PM, Brunch: Sat-Sun 11:00AM-3:30PM, www.whitehartinn.com] FOOTNOTE– We are sorry to report that The White Hart has recently closed its doors according to a recent newspaper report: www.nytimes.com/2010/11/11/