Although Jeannette Doellgast, the owner of Plumbush Inn, says she hasn’t actually seen anyone down on one knee in the dining room, the place is renowned for proposals of the old-fashioned kind (as well as being a dripping-with-romance wedding venue). And Doellgast admits that she’s spotted many a newly engaged couple. “You look on her finger and see a super-shiny ring, and you can tell she just got it,” she says. “In summer, we see people go for a walk in the garden, and sometimes they’ll stop at the wedding arch, where we do ceremonies. That’s very conducive to proposals.”
It’s certainly a storybook setting: a Victorian mansion with richly paneled walls and plush décor set amid lovely gardens. It has a swanky pedigree, too — it was once the home of Agnes Shewan, who bagged an aristocrat and became the Marquise Agnes Rizzoli dei Ritii. There are five dining rooms, each with just a few well-spaced tables. In summertime, the veranda is the first choice of the starry-eyed; in winter, a table near the fireplace in the Rose Room or the Oak Room are favorites. Soft lights, hushed background music, and a leisurely pace add to the mood. “We see a lot of couples holding hands through dinner — couples of all ages, from mid-20s to seniors. It’s very sweet,” Doellgast remarks.
Even the menu seems romantic: Doellgast’s husband, chef Mohsen Alam El Din, prepares traditional American fare using classic French techniques, so you’ll find dishes like Atlantic salmon in a herb emulsion or grilled duck breast in a cherry and port wine reduction. Beef Wellington is a house specialty that has a celebratory feel, as do the rack of lamb and châteaubriand — both for two, and popular among the lovebird set.
Even though they own the place and have been married for a quarter of a century, Doellgast and her husband still succumb to the charms of Plumbush. “On a snowy day, we’ll sit together in one of the dining rooms, share a bottle of wine, and enjoy each other’s company,” she says.