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A Touch of Class

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“What shall we wear?” my husband and I asked each other as we were getting ready to check out the Supper Room at Glenmere Mansion. A friend who lives near the newly restored hotel in central Orange County had burst into all caps when e-mailing me about how CHIC and FABULOUS it is. But Chester, though it has its charms, is on the edge of all those black-dirt onion farms. Country, right? Take it from me — if you’re going to the Supper Room, dress up. Nobody will be so tacky as to make you feel uncomfortable if you don’t, but the elegant room is worth it — and how many chances do you get?

» Eat out at Glenmere Mansion

Built in 1911, Glenmere is an Italianate mansion perched on a hill overlooking Glenmere Lake (read about the multimillion dollar renovation here). As you make your way toward it along the leafy lanes, you catch glimpses of the salmon-pink building through the trees. By the time you park in the graveled entranceway — with its fountain, clipped box hedges, and stunning view — you feel as if you’re in another world.

A hostess greeted us, then led us through the library and past the grand player-piano in the living room to the Supper Room, where she handed us over to a lanky gentleman (one of the owners, it turned out) who saw us to a table. As I was settling into the ivory leather banquette, one of the staff whisked away my white napkin and replaced it with a black one — should there be a hint of lint, it would match my clothes. That small, thoughtful gesture was one of the many pleasing details that are hallmarks of Glenmere.

alaskan snow crab napoleonSavory sensations: The Alaskan snow crab Napoleon is a delicate way to begin a meal at Glenmere Mansion

Photographs by Jennifer May

chef michael fossGlenmere Executive Chef Michael Foss — seated in the luxurious Supper Room — looks ready for business

The Supper Room is lovely, with 12-foot ceilings and six sets of French doors — five overlooking the lake and grounds, and one opening to the interior courtyard. Silver-leaf, eglomise glass panels fill the space between each set of doors, reverse-painted with Tuscan hill scenes. They look like antiquities, too, but were actually created over the last two years by local artist Staszek Kotowski. Well-spaced tables are arranged around the edge of the room against banquette sofas, with one long table — which holds tall flower arrangements and serving pieces — anchoring the middle. A crystal chandelier adds a little sparkle to the soft candlelight. It’s all restrained good taste rather than razzle-dazzle (Donald Trump probably wouldn’t be impressed), and although somewhat formal, it’s not stuffy or intimidating.

As we were looking over the menu, a young server bearing a napkin-lined basket and wielding tongs appeared and gave each of us a silver dollar-sized, warm buttermilk biscuit — a nice departure from the usual bread basket. Luckily, she drifted back to dispense a second biscuit, and then a third. (The chef told me later that he bakes fresh batches to coincide with diners’ arrival times.) Rather than hovering, respectful, black-clad staffers seemed to shimmer into view when needed throughout the evening. A wine list compiled by Michael Cimino (an award-winning sommelier who selected wines for Xaviar’s at Piermont) is a work-in-progress, but includes some New York vintages and several varieties by the glass.

 

the supper room at glenmereSophisticated style: The Supper Room at Glenmere Mansion

After ordering, we were presented with a dainty amuse bouche on a tiny white plate: Smoked salmon mousse piped onto a star-shaped cracker and garnished with one piquant pea shoot. It was about the size of a Hershey’s Kiss, and the first hint of the chef’s light, confident touch and deft way with contrasts in tastes and textures.

The Alaskan snow crab Napoleon appetizer looked like the delicious delicacy it was, with silky strands of crab bathed in creamy dill mascarpone and nestled between layers of crisp phyllo. A savory crème brulee came simply presented in a square ramekin on a doily, and was a satiny blend of sweet, caramelized onions and Swiss Gruyere custard. A finger of garlic crostini and a sprinkling of peppery watercress sprouts added crunch and contrast.

A tender, aged New York strip came with a hint of char, and a light but earthy wild mushroom sauce au poivre. My spouse pronounced it “just damn perfect”

Two of the specials that evening were steaks, big ones — a cowboy and a porterhouse — but we’d already realized that the relatively modest portions were satisfying. A tender, aged New York strip came with a hint of char, and a light but earthy wild mushroom sauce au poivre. My spouse pronounced it “just damn perfect.” It was paired with a hollowed-out roasted potato cradling a creamy mix of Boursin, horseradish, and parmesan in its center, which elevated the humble spud to something haute.

I rarely eat pork, partly because “the other white meat,” as it’s proudly marketed, tastes bland at best compared to the free-roaming porkers I ate growing up in England. But the hickory smoked Berkshire pork served here is a free-range heritage breed called Kurobuta, known for its marbled meat. The juicy medallions of tenderloin were dressed in an apple cider sauce that enlivened the lightly smoky flavor. Accompaniments — braised red cabbage, tangy with red wine vinegar and a shot of port; and a velvety sweet corn pudding — were perfect opposites and just right.

skate and wild boar dishColorful — and creative: This dish combines skate and wild boar sausage, served atop a bed of napa cabbage, bok choy, scallions, and flashed yellow and red grape tomatoes

You can order additional sides if you like (wild mushrooms with garlic and shallots, roasted root vegetables, creamed spinach, and sautéed green beans were among the choices on the late winter menu), but we found the plates as they were presented to be ample.

For dessert, we shared a Charleston banana cream tart, made with a chocolate pâte brisée and served with a fan of caramelized banana slices. It was intensely banana-ish and swooningly ambrosial, but we were already so sated that we couldn’t even finish it between us. Biscotti arrived along with coffee, and we couldn’t manage those either.

Chef Mike Foss was formerly private chef to a small galaxy of Hollywood stars (among them Burt Reynolds, Harrison Ford, and Tyler Perry). He and Glenmere co-owner Daniel DeSimone are planning seasonal menus of familiar, classic dishes — filet mignon, cider-braised chicken, pan-seared sea bass and such — but with touches that lift them up a notch or two. Ingredients are first-class, and Foss is serious about seeking out local produce, including humanely raised animals and poultry from small regional farms.

Here’s a spot where both a hedge-fund manager and a lowly journalist can feel comfortable and pampered. Prices are on the high side, but it’s worth a splurge, especially for a celebration or when you want a little glamour in your life. Or you can try Glenmere’s informal, cozy Frog’s End Tavern, where the menu of dressed-up comfort foods is inexpensive and you still get a taste of luxe. In warm weather, you can dine in the courtyard and feel as though you’ve been beamed to Italy. Whichever you choose, you’ll get the same gracious treatment, as well as a chance to see how the other half lived in the old days — and how they still do today.

Glenmere Mansion
634 Pine Hill Rd., Chester. 845-469-1900 or www.glenmeremansion.com
The Supper Room is open for dinner Thursday through Saturday, with a $65 Sunday Champagne brunch. Appetizers or salads range from $10-$18; entrées from $24-$42; sides $8. Frog’s End Tavern serves lunch and dinner daily; salads, sandwiches, and entrées from $8-$16.

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