By CB Wismar
Photos: Tanya Blum
If you are local to the Litchfield Hills, the Berkshires or the Hudson Valley, then venture to Troutbeck
for the food. You should not be disappointed.
If you are bent on exploring the area, then add to your sojourn a night at one of 17 fully renovated guest rooms in The Manor House (c.1919). It offers all amenities and recreation opportunities, which begin with three trout ponds in the Webutuck River running through the 45-acre property, tennis courts and miles of hiking trails, with access to cycling, skiing and equestrian sports.
Corporate group, wedding or family reunion? The Century Lodge (c.1760) is a modernized four-bedroom cottage with an adjacent building housing 12 rooms and a large gathering space. The elegantly re-done ballroom can handle groups of up to 240, with smaller spaces for up to 40 participants.
In short, Troutbeck is back. After years of sitting quietly dormant on the outskirts of Amenia, New York, just over the border from Sharon, Conn., the entire complex of buildings and grounds has been carefully renovated, upgraded, comfortably furnished and enhanced.
Which leads us back to the restaurant.
Chef Marcel Agnez has assembled an elegant, seasonally influenced, farm-to-table menu that makes decisions difficult for the diner. The scallops or the black bass? The venison chop or the roasted chicken with braised endive? A vegetarian delight, an enticing pasta dish or one of the specials?
On days of operation (Thursday through Sunday) breakfast and lunch are offered, as well as a Sunday brunch. For dinner, starters range from fresh oysters with a blood orange granita ($3 each) to a refreshing Belgian endive salad with candied pecans, blue cheese and poached pears ($13). For a warm-up during colder months, there’s a savory baked oyster and leek chowder ($11).
Entrees are listed as “specialties,” and the designation is apt. Each dish offers a great use of flavors, textures and enticing aromas. The grass-fed grilled pork chop with apple sauce and haricots verts ($26) is moist and tender. Pan-seared scallops are elegantly set off with carrot turmeric sauce, red beet tartar and almonds ($21). A standard fare like roasted chicken becomes a tour de force when presented with braised endive, potatoes, sorrel, sunchoke and truffle madeira ($26).
The menu is adjusted with the season, so dishes will change as fresh items become available to the chef. Specials are added daily to enhance the options (and complicate the decision-making process). Troutbeck has turned to no fewer than eight local Hudson Valley farms to source their ingredients, supplementing their selections with daily shipments of seafood and other fresh ingredients.
Desserts are elegant. Cakes, crème brulee and other delights will tempt the table to at least “have one to share” as an accompaniment to an individual pot of French press coffee or selected fine teas.
The Troutbeck wine list is well balanced and reasonably priced, with the most expensive offering a French Delamotte champagne for $68. Clearly, great care has been exercised in offering both white and red wines from California, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Argentina. Four whites, three reds, a rosé and a Prosecco are available by the glass, most in the $12-$15 range.
Troutbeck’s website offers lodging and restaurant reservations as well as snippets of information about the property, the area and local activities. There are also some intriguing quotes from those who have made Troutbeck home and a vaunted destination for over two centuries. One such quote from noted naturalist, conservationist and nature essayist John Burroughs (1837 – 1921) about farmer, naturalist and poet Myron Beecher Benton (1834 – 1902) who spent his entire life at Troutbeck, captures the elegant, honest flavor of the property and the extent to which its re-birth has been successful.
“I liked Myron Benton from the first sight of him. He had the flavor of the farm and of the country — a rural quality of mind and character that had been touched and mellowed by the influence of the best literature.”
The restaurant is open Thursday through Sunday for breakfast, lunch, Sunday brunch and dinner.
Reservations are strongly suggested for dinner.
515 Leedsville Rd., Amenia, NY