“Welcome Mr. Hsia to the Glenmere Mansion”
What’s in a name? Apparently plenty. Throughout our lives we’re constantly telling people who we are, maybe deep down we’re all hoping that someone would recognize us by name. The simple gesture of greeting me by name as I stepped towards the building seemed effortless, but made a deep impression. This is what separates an ordinary “hotel” from one worthy of inclusion in the Relais & Chateaux.
Located just over an hour’s drive north of the city, and only 10 minutes away from Woodbury Commons Premium Outlet, Glenmere Mansion is the type of resort that hard working city dwellers deserve. The views of Glenmere Lake conjures up a serenity of Southern France, yet the stunning architecture transports guests to Tuscany. A place where you can completely unwind, forget where you are, but pop right back to work a day later without travel fatigue or jet lag.
Behind this ambitious project is former orthopedic surgeon Daniel DeSimone and Alan Stenberg, who purchased this property back in 2005 and undertook a 3 year, $30 million renovation. The building was originally designed and built by prestigious firm Carrere and Hastings (the same folks who designed the New York Public Library) back in 1911, so much of the renovation was about preserving its grandeur while bringing some of the infrastructure up to date. Geothermal heating and cooling was installed, along with new energy efficient windows that matched the old design. Towards the back of the building, the pool and garden looks as if it’s been part of the property since last century, with its elegant and classical styling elements. It was quite a shock to learn that it was only recently added, for it blended perfectly into the building’s lines.
We all know a successful hotel doesn’t come from just the infrastructure, but the people that operate it. Despite having zero experience in hospitality, other than an understanding of what they liked and didn’t like at other hotels around the world, Glenmere was added to Relais & Chateaux in its first year, an amazing accomplishment.
To complete the other half of the hospitality puzzle, DeSimone, who himself is quite skilled in the kitchen, worked with the executive chef Seadon Shouse on a menu that blends French and American cuisine. The Supper Room, the formal dining option, puts diners in direct sight of Lake Glenmere. Seldom in New York does the food have to live up to the view and decor, this would be no easy task.
Yet the team accomplishes this brilliantly. Upon entering the front door, you’re led to a “living room” where waiters serve up delicious, and very reasonably priced cocktails, strained and poured table side. Once you’ve eased your mind into an ideal pace, you’re lead into the formal dining room.
The 3 course prix fixe is very straight forward, just what I need as my vision is drawn to the expansive lawn leading towards the lake down the hill. While I’m sure the chef could have devised some multi-course showcase of culinary ingenuity, a traditional, simple menu really works best for this setup. I’ve generally a fan of multi-course tasting menus, but here I was enjoying the peace and quiet without waiters showing up and disappearing every few bites.
The amuse was a miniature BLT. Playful.
We started the meal with a tomato gazpacho, which was wonderful for the warm summer days. The flavor was very balanced, and the shrimp adds a bit of texture and flavor.
Scallops, seasoned with very gentle dash of five spice, was a nice sized appetizer. When you sear scallops nicely, simple seasoning works best, and the chef was definitely delicate with his execution.
Onto the mains. The steak was nicely cooked, and sufficiently tender, but did not wow us. We’ve all been pampered by dry-aged beef all over the city.
I was quite excited by the butter poached lobster, for it’s a dish defined by Thomas Keller, and replicated at many other fine restaurants to a varying degree of success. The lobster at Glenmere was soft, tender, and extremely flavorful. Not quite Per Se, but close.
Desserts were quite playful. The sundae gave you an opportunity to craft your own dessert, topping off delicious scoops of ice cream with warm chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Simple spin on a timeless classic.
For a more innovative flavor, the pineapple “soup” with meringue was absolutely delicious. Topping acidic desserts with fresh herbs is something more chefs ought to be doing.
At this point of the meal, many guests chose to move outside for a relaxing drink, or to smoke a cigar as they watch the sunset. I mentioned in the beginning that one of the benefits of Glenmere is its proximity to New York City. At this point this is all irrelevant, you won’t want to leave.
What does this rating mean?
The score takes into consideration (half point) of the stunning setting and views. Prices are not cheap, but for what you’re getting it’s very reasonable. The meal was compliments of management at Glenmere, though I was not required to write about the experience, nor did this fact affect the score. I’ve begun to save up for a retreat at Glenmere Mansion.
The Supper Room at Glenmere Mansion
634 Pine Hill Road
Chester, NY 10918