New Yorkers are spoiled by our access to phenomenal food. We’re blessed to have corner restaurants and bistros that serve better food than upscale dining establishments in other parts of the country. All is well when we stay in the area, but turn into a mixed blessing when we go on vacation. At one restaurant upstate, I saw an asterisk next to a lobster entrée with saffron. Scanning down to the bottom of the menu, it stated “Unique and for serious foodies only”. Sigh.
The solution to this self induced dilemma? Make dining an important part of your itinerary. I often find myself scouting dining destinations before the trip, and plan around breakfast, lunch and dinner. On a recent trip to the Fingerlakes, I decided to drive back through Pennsylvania. A quick search for Relais et Chateaux properties on the way showed Hotel Fauchère and the Delmonico Room.
As a food enthusiast obsessed with the stories behind a dining establishment, the history of Hotel Fauchère immediately caught my eye. Back in the 1850′s, Louis Fauchère was the master chef at Delmonico, the famous New York restaurant that’s still in business today. In 1867, Fauchère moved to Milford and purchased a little hotel. To pay homage to his friends and former employer, the Delmonico brothers, he named his new restaurant the Delmonico Room.
Through many years, and a few owners, The Delmonico Room and Hotel Fauchère has maintained a level of excellence. A hotel and dining in one sweet intimate package, I quickly booked both.
The hotel itself sits on the main street of Milford, but is a serene little building. The courteous staff makes you feel right at home, and the coordination between the hotel and restaurants felt seamless, as demonstrated repeatedly through the evening.
The Delmonico Room is open for breakfast daily, but only open on weekends for dinner. The room is small, dimly lit, and extends out to the enclosed patio area. It was nice to see them recognize you by name right when you enter the room, a slick hand-off between different departments, befitting of Hotel Fauchere’s Relais et Chateaux membership.
Having previously been asked of our dietary restrictions by phone, we opted quickly for the seasonal tasting menu. There was another $115 Chef’s Grand Seasonal Tasting Menu, but we chose to go with the slightly lighter fare.
The dining room was perhaps half full, but we immediately noticed that service was slow, to the point of annoyance. Having just had a drink downstairs at the casual eatery Bar Louis, and witnessed the large crowd, I wondered if the kitchen was overworked. The water glass would remain unfilled, empty plates would sit for minutes, in between courses, the wait would stretch 15 to 20 minutes.
If this was Kitchen Nightmares, I could imagine Chef Ramsay screaming in the kitchen right now. “Get your stuff together, yes?!”
When the food did come out though, it was spectacular.
After a bizarre amuse bouche (fried shreds of potato?), the meal kicked off impressively with foie gras pate topped with fresh vegetables, nuts, and a raspberry sauce drizzle. The ingredients worked together marvelously, making the salty slices of liver exciting without overwhelming the natural flavors.
Risotto topped with truffle and a quail egg followed, and was just as delightful. The quail egg thickened the relatively light risotto beautifully, and the truffles really accentuated the flavors.
Monk fish medallions followed (at this point we were more than 2 hours into dinner). The fish was masterfully prepared and seasoned. This was one of the finest fish courses I’ve ever had, would not look out of place at Le Bernadin.
Service blunders continue to put a damper on the evening, however. When we asked if service could be hastened, the kitchen responded by bringing out two courses (meat, followed by dessert) at once. Not exactly the improvement I was looking for.
The main entree was duck, 2 ways. On one side of the plate, a delicious piece of duck breast. On the other side, a broiled heart of duck. From presentation to flavor, this was hard to beat.
After dinner, it was a pleasant surprise to see that the room has been tidied up during dinner. Excellent coordination between the staff.
For the price, and the quality of the cuisine, the Delmonico Room is a standout. It would perform well in any major markets, and is an absolute gem at Milford. The hotel and the restaurant are definitely worth a visit, but do start your dinner early, it could last a while.
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Delmonico Room at Hotel Fauchere (Make a Reservation)
401 Broad Street
Milford, PA 18337