Birchwood Inn – Lenox, MA
Last weekend, my husband and I spent three wonderful days in the Berkshires. We are planning our next trip already (and perusing the Websites of local realtors…the dream). We saw lots of colorful leaves, wandered through quaint towns, viewed famous works of art, bought gifts for the holidays, and ate. Oh, how we ate. The best place to begin on our culinary tour of the Berkshires is with the lovely B&B we stayed at in Lenox, Birchwood Inn, which is owned and run by Ellen Gutman Chenaux. Birchwood Inn is a warm and inviting home away from home. Ellen is both a gracious hostess and an amazing cook. The highlight of our stay were Ellen’s expertly-prepared breakfasts and afternoon teas. Here’s what we ate:
Blueberry-Filled Grilled Peaches
“Waffles of Insane Greatness and Jazzy Sausage”
New England Corn Muffins
Maple Roasted Pears
Harvest Quiche (leeks, artichokes, asparagus, sundried tomatoes) and Grape Tomato Crisp
Pumpkin Apple Streusel Coffee Cake
Saturday breakfast edged out Sunday breakfast ever so slightly. I don’t know what Ellen’s secret is with the waffles, but they were insanely great, and the sausage was perhaps the best sausage I’ve ever eaten. Afternoon tea included Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte on Friday and Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread Cake on Saturday. A-mazing. Ellen, who has a cochlear implant, is accompanied in the kitchen by Quinn, an adorable golden retriever who lets Ellen know when the stove timer goes off! Ellen’s cookbook is being reprinted, but I preordered a copy and hope to make some of Ellen’s delicious treats once the cookbook arrives (stay tuned).
On Ellen’s recommendation, we booked a table at The Old Inn On The Green for Friday night. The Old Inn is lit entirely by candlelight and you feel as though you have been transported to a different era upon entering the restaurant. In addition to the romantic setting, we enjoyed a delicious dinner that showcased chef Peter Platt’s elegant cooking and focus on local ingredients.
Dinner began with two delightful canapés – Smoked Trout Crostini and Gougères with Chevre – followed by an amuse bouche of Potato and Parsnip Soup. We split a large appetizer of Roasted Fall Vegetable Risotto with Garden Chives and Truffle Essence. My husband ordered Herb-Roasted Breast of Hudson Valley Chicken with Roasted Garlic Mash and Fall Vegetables, and I ordered Painted Hills Farms Angus NY Strip Steak au Poivre with Fondant Potatoes, Fall Vegetables, and Red Wine Sauce. Our only complaint about dinner is that the vegetables were overdone; the chicken and steak were prepared perfectly. For dessert we had Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar with Honey Caramelized Peanuts and Hazelnuts – I didn’t love the dessert as it contained milk chocolate rather than dark chocolate, but the caramelized nuts were a nice accompaniment to my coffee. Our bill arrived with delicious dark chocolate lavender truffles.
The Old Inn offers a truly special and memorable dining experience and is not to be missed if you’re in the area. I’ll be back tomorrow with some additional highlights from our trip and a few pictures (finally!).