A Victorian Holiday Repast at The Willows

It’s not every day you get to eat a meal prepared by one of the world’s 68 Certified Master Chefs.

Last Monday, I did just that – and you can, too.

The Willows Restaurant in Bristol (located in the Hilton Doubletree) is known for its innovative seasonally inspired cuisine, always painstakingly prepared and elegantly served. Now with Chef Dale Miller at the helm (Master Chef extraordinaire), the food is better than ever. Through next Saturday, December 20th, the restaurant is serving a sumptuous three course menu, “A Victorian Holiday Repast” for $35 just in time for the holidays. Reminiscent of classic Victorian cuisine, the decadent dishes are chock full of hearty ingredients to warm up a winter day.

While Nick was photographing the gorgeous dishes, I got to snag (more than) a few bites. The warm parsnip and tomato fennel bisque is a chilly day game changer; the flavors complement each other beautifully and the herbed scone and clotted cream just puts it over the edge. The smoked salmon and scallop Brandade cake is another featured starter (really, how can you choose between them?!), perfectly accompanied by a piquant English mustard.

And the entrees. Oh, the entrees. I’ll go ahead and admit that I’ve never had a proper Beef Wellington until last week. My experiences have consisted only of mediocre frozen appetizers or micro versions at wedding cocktail hours. Plainly put, Chef Miller’s version is extraordinary. Housemade puff pastry, juicy fillet, and mushrooms duxelles in a lovely wine sauce. Top it off with a seared foie gras medallion (right? RIGHT?!) and we’re good to go. Aside from the soup, the salmon Thermidor had the best presentation. It’s just gorgeous. And as delicious as it looks.

The warm gingerbread with lemon curd was otherworldly – the perfect, perfect way to end a festive holiday meal. Don’t miss out on this awesome deal – get all the details here! The full menu is posted below. Enjoy!

 

SAVOURIES
(Please Select One)

Warm Parsnip and Tomato Fennel Bisque,
Garnished with Herbed Scone and Clotted Cream.

Kentish Salad Composed Salad of Organic Greens
Artichoke Hearts, Haricot Vert, Toasted English Walnuts Aged Sherry Vinaigrette.

Smoked Salmon and Scallop Brandade Cake
English Mustard Sauce, Onion Fronds

MAIN COURSE
(Please Select One)

Roasted Breast of Maple Leaf Farms Duck

Oyster Stuffing, Lemon Shallot Glaze

Filet of Beef Wellington,
Seared Foie Gras Medallion, Mushrooms Duxelles Graced with Sauce Madere

Fillet of Salmon Thermidor
Sherry Tarragon Glacage

*All of the above are served with a Warm Potato and Asparagus Trifle.


SWEETS AND SUCH
(Please Select One)

 Cherries Jubilee with Housemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

 Victorian Flower Pot with White Chocolate Mousse and Raspberry Coulis

  Warm Gingerbread Gateau, Lemon Curd sauce

I’m on TV!

 

Check it out, friends – I’m on Better Connecticut talking about farm to table dining. Gotta love summer produce!

WFSB 3 Connecticut

Farm-Focused Dining: Seasons Magazine

The new issue of Seasons Magazine is out! Check out my article about farm-to-table dining featuring Firebox in Hartford, Community Table Restaurant in Washington and Francesca’s Wine Bar and Bistro in Collinsville! Thanks to Diana DeLucia for the (as always) stunning photos:

 

The Belmont Elderflower – An Onyx Original

If there’s one thing that keeps me going all summer – call it happy hour fuel – it’s the crisp, tangy, floral combination of fresh grapefruit, St Germain elderflower liquor, gin (or, in this case local CT moonshine), and a hint of bubbles, be it  lime soda water or prosecco.

I give you the Belmont Elderflower.

I created this tasty libation for my friends at the Onyx Moonshine distillery in East Hartford. I’m a big fan of their products – whether the original moonshine, the 111 proof (perfect for summer infusions), secret stash whiskey and limited releases (now cranberry, crisp local apple in the fall).

Test out your own concoctions and have fun with it! Hard to go wrong.

The Half Door Gets A Facelift (Just In Time For Summer)

I’ve always really enjoyed The Half Door but now it’s even better with Chef Ben back on the scene. Since their reopening in April, a new menu features most of the restaurant favorites but includes a handful of much needed updates, as well as more local craft beers (in addition to the already stellar international selection) and a solid cocktail list featuring muddled seasonal fruits and jams. Last Tuesday, I opted for the Violet Beauregarde with Tito’s vodka, St Germaine, blueberry puree and a squeeze of lemon. So refreshing and fantastic.

The toadstool burger was downright phenomenal as well – local beef adorned with sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, bacon and cheddar on a HBC roll.

Upon perusing the online menu, it looks like the happy hour food options have changed and all for the better. From $5 kabobs to cilantro-parmesan sweet potato wedges, it’s a nice high end twist on typical pub grub. Hope they start the specialty beer dinners back up soon!

Everything Is Better With Brunch

It’s a fact of life.

Anyway, in the spirit of spring and hopes for warmer weather, check out my latest article in Seasons Magazine, all about my favorite weekend meal. Featuring A’Vert Brasserie, Seasons Restaurant and Evergreens at The Simsbury Inn, the column’s words can’t do justice to such amazing brunch offerings at each restaurant. And Diana Delucia’s photos are, as always, pure magic. Read on!