New Reasons Connecticut’s Mayflower Inn & Spa Is the Perfect Weekend Getaway
On Thursday afternoons, a cart is set up near the croquet lawn offering glasses of rosé to guests about to try out their mallet/wicket skills, a very civilized way to start a long weekend at the Mayflower Inn & Spa, Auberge Resorts Collection, the bucolic resort in Washington, Connecticut, two hours northwest of New York. Back at the main house, there’s another offer that day of the week to start the weekend. Inspirational new chef Cortney Burns, a veteran of restaurants such as San Francisco’s acclaimed Quince and Bar Tartine, has just introduced the Garden Delights Menu, a unique tasting menu highlighting produce from the 58-acre resort’s garden as well as local suppliers in dishes that blend tantalizing flavors and health benefits based on her expertise in herbology and naturopathy. It is available indoors and outdoors in the garden room from Thursday to Saturday.
As Burns notes, the techniques for promoting better health will not be obvious to diners; there is no deprivation. Instead, she uses techniques such as dry-charring vegetables, reducing the use of oil which, when heated, can lead to inflammation, and intentionally starting meals with fermented vegetables to facilitate cooking. digestion. All diners will notice that the dishes are creative, tasty and intensely coloured. The current five-course Summer Garden menu begins with an assortment of starters including feta mousse with corn tabbouleh; slow-roasted carrots with green tahini and fenugreek; sprouted rye bread with smoked eggs and radishes and pickles and olives. A trio of tomato concoctions follow, including the simple-sounding but utterly succulent Heirloom Tomato Soup, enhanced with chive crème fraîche and anchovy crumbs; a variation of vitello tonnato, the classic dish of veal in tuna sauce with mixed tomatoes instead of veal, and a tomato ricotta pancake.
Next courses are a crispy whole branzino with a cornucopia of sumac, fennel, and sunflowers; a grilled rib steak with strings of Romano beans and anchovies accompanied by a salad of fine herbs and mushrooms and marbled apples with sour cream and chives. The two desserts are buttermilk panna cotta on a bed of rice pudding with honeycomb, plums and plum mousse and a mix of chocolate, red wine and cherries including red wine ice cream, chocolate ganache and a cherry mousse. The object is to feel satisfied but not to burst…and you are. Menus will change seasonally with this one in place until the end of September.
Burns’ additions are also available daily for breakfast and lunch and dinner in the more casual tap room: mouth-watering, nutrient-dense dishes such as Hollandaise pancake with poached apricots, green almonds and Kernel cream and ½ Green Circle grilled chicken with spring onions, romesco sauce and black olives. The chef will also organize picnics for guests to discover in the property’s colorful Shakespeare Garden or to take hikes, bike rides through the countryside or a fly-fishing lesson on the Housatonic River. She’ll also cook up concoctions from the garden for the resort’s holistic spa, the state-of-the-art 20,000-square-foot integrated wellness destination The Well, an outpost of her New York base. Guides from The Well also take guests through the Mayflower Forest and nearby Hidden Valley and Steep Rock Preserves for forest bathing or educational hikes.
The inn, which underwent a clean and whimsical revamp in 2020, also offers guest entertainment within its walls, including twice-weekly tarot readings, a collection of vintage books in The Parlor provided by Johnnycake Books of Connecticut and unique furniture store The Huntress curated by interior designer Jenny Wolf for shopping. Trips can also be arranged to nearby Mine Hill Distillery to learn more about gin, whiskey and craft cocktails or to the studio of local Litchfield artist Charlie Dumais, Dumais Made, to create pottery.
At the end of the day, most of the guests gather on the lawn for a ritual familiar to many since childhood: sitting around a fire. And if they still have room after dinner, they’ll give in when they’re handed a skewer with roasted s’more.