At Mirbeau Inn and Spa in the Finger Lakes of New York, guests have the chance to escape to the French countryside without leaving the country. While the property offers a world-class spa, vinotherapy treatments, fitness classes, cooking classes, wine tastings, luxury cottages and Monet-inspired gardens, one of the highlights of any stay will be dining in their onsite restaurant, French Steakhouse, which I recently was able to visit with a friend of mine named Aubrey. Join us as we indulge in French country fare in a casual upscale space:
For dinner, Aubrey and I dine at Mireabu Inn and Spa’s onsite French Steakhouse. We opt for a three-course wine pairing dinner, which will showcase both American and French wines as well as French Country-style dishes made with local ingredients. Although Aubrey and I are just friends, we can’t help but feel as though we’re on a romantic date. As with many of the spaces at Mirbeau we’re treated to a front-row view of the courtyard, while accents like pristine white table clothes, whimsically-draped curtains, candlelit chandeliers and comfortable seats crafted with rich mahogany create a relaxed fine dining vibe.
The menu changes often so the restaurant can use the freshest available ingredients, although they always feature healthy spa-inspired creations as well as tableside presentations like the filleting of a whole fish and the carving of a Cowboy steak for two. Tonight there are a range of unusual but delicious-sounding options, for example, a “Monkfish Osso Buco”; a risotto crafted from cauliflower and served with baby carrots and local chou vert kale; and an Alsatian-inspired strudel featuring asparagus , Gruyere and toasted walnuts baked in phyllo dough and drizzled with Gorgonzola cream.
We place our orders and tell the sommelier about our wine preferences before a young man carrying a selection of hearty breads comes over.
“Tonight we have a honey curry butter with your choice of ciabatta or garlic knot bread.”
We’re also brought an amuse bouche, a “seafood sausage” that contains lobster, egg white, scallops, shrimp and cream melted into a sausage form. The texture is velvety, with a distinct and delightful shellfish taste.
The first course I have selected is the “Lapin Roti,” a roasted tenderloin of rabbit wrapped in Serrano ham and grilled. On the side of the protein-rich starter are endive leaves topped with house bacon “lardons” and mustard vinaigrette. Our sommelier pairs the dish with a 2011 Dr. Frank Semi Dry Riesling, which features flavors of apple blossom and citrus. The citrus of the wine complements the complex flavors of the rabbit, ham and bacon, while a slight sweetness offsets the smokiness of the dish.
While I already feel satisfied, my palate is once again excited when the main course is brought out. I’ve selected the “Homard a la Colonial,” which features a wok-roasted half-pound lobster with shrimp, scallop and langoustines in a spicy-sweet Thai red curry sauce. On the side is a tuft of Jasmine rice as well as a spoonful of cilantro whipped cream and scallions. The sommelier has decided to pair this dish with a 2010 Michael David ‘Petite Petit,” a substantial, dense and full bodied wine from the Lodi Wine Region in California. While most people often choose whites when eating seafood, this particular varietal features a blend of 85% Petite Sirah and 15% Petit Verdot that goes well with the curry sauce. While the wine coats the palate with flavors of black fruit and vanilla, it features enough richness and backbone to standup to the intense flavors of the curry sauce and succulent lobster.
Before dessert, we indulge with a decadent cheese course featuring Moody Blue, a rich, creamy blue smoked over fruit wood; Drunken Goat, a semi-firm pasteurized goat cured in Cabernet; and Parmesan Reggiano, a hard granular cheese made from raw cow’s milk. To help enhance the experience, the delectable cheeses are served with honey comb, tomato onion jam, a 30-year aged balsamic and a variety of breads and crisps. Each offering has its own distinct texture and taste, from the crumbly, tangy blue to the more sweet and delicate goat. The highlight of the experience is drizzling the balsamic onto each morsel, so rich and sweet it could be used on ice cream.
Finally, it’s time for dessert. Luckily, I’ve opted for something light yet satisfying, a chocolate mousse made with caillebaut 65% dark chocolate and hazelnut brittle. This course is paired with something I’d never heard of, a Terra d’Oro Zinfandel Port. While not as heavy or sweet as a typical port, the wine gives the perfect finish with flavors of raisins, sugared dates, chocolate, caramel and a hint of orange peel. It was made to be enjoyed with chocolate, and as I indulge in a chocolate mousse and hard chocolate bowl, I’m in heaven.
We opt for a nightcap, whiskey on the rocks, and sit back to take in the view. Even at night it’s beautiful, the crystal ice glistening in the dark. As has happened many times this day, I forget that I am not in the French countryside, but am instead in the same state most associate with honking taxi cabs, bustling streets and stressed locals. At Mirbeau Inn and Spa you don’t even have to leave the property to travel the world, escape from your worries and experience the finer things in life.