Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Regency Room at The Williamsburg Inn

Opened in 1937, the Williamsburg Inn was built by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. to cater to friends who came to visit Colonial Williamsburg. The family felt that the inn should be more of a luxurious country residence than a hotel, and so the standard was set. A striking whitewashed façade, original glittering chandeliers and richly upholstered furniture makes a striking first impression. Guest rooms make even more of a dramatic impact with homemade furnishings of Honduran mahogany and select artwork. The rooms also feature silk window treatments handcrafted in a Colonial Williamsburg workshop, luxurious trim and delicate handmade tassels. Complementing the floor-to-ceiling curtains are beautiful easy chairs covered in silk damask. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997, the Williamsburg Inn is a member of Historic Hotels of America.

One of the Inn’s richest and most elegant spaces, the Regency Room incorporates period design elements from the Royal Pavilion at Brighton, England. Located in the Inn’s West Wing, the room’s design details include Egyptian palm-leafed columns, hand-painted oriental panels with a tree of life design of peonies and birds, crystal chandeliers, rich silk draperies and leather-upholstered dining chairs. Table settings include gold-rimmed dinnerware and elegant hem-stitched table linens. The room’s striking garden view provides a picture-perfect transition from day to evening, as the space comes to life at night with local concert pianist Robert Hodge. 

The food at Williamsburg Inn is as impressive as the décor. Whether dining in the Terrace Room for lunch or the elegant Regency Room for dinner, many of the restaurant’s hallmarks remain true even more than a half-century later — a comfortable-but-upscale atmosphere, impeccable service and incredible culinary offerings that blend southern regional flavours with classic French techniques from Executive Chef Travis Brust. The menu changes seasonally, with house specialties include Crabmeat Randolph, tableside Caesar Salad, Oysters Rockefellar, Berkshire Pork Tenderloin Schnitzel, in addition to nightly Regency-inspired entrée selections and decadent desserts such as Williamsburg Inn Hazelnut Ice Cream Cake with marinated strawberries and Kahlua fudge sauce. 

A glass of sparkling wine to begin the evening

An amuse-bouche: chicken liver terrine crostini

The Regency Room dinner menu 

A warm house-made cheese and herb dinner roll

Individual butter dishes arrive with the dinner roll

Oysters Rockefeller made with local oysters, applewood smoked bacon wilted spinach, Grana Padano Italian anise crème served on spiced rock salt with lemon

Light, delicate and delicious right down to the last shell

A glass of local 2011 Barboursville Cabernet Sauvignon

Braised Rabbit Ragoût with polenta gnocchi, pearl onions, Parisian vegetables
forest mushrooms, wilted greens country croutons, shaved Grana Padano and tarragon oil

Chopped Hearts of Romaine with garlic and fines herbes croutons, grated Parmesan cheese and Classic Caesar dressing

A local 2013 Barboursville Pinot Grigio from Virginia

Creamy Lobster Bisque with brioche crouton, butter-poached langoustine, toasted pink peppercorns and micro greens

A small dish of Strawberry Sorbet is served to cleanse the palate before the entrée

Berkshire Pork Tenderloin Schnitzel served with crispy mustard-herb spätzle, apple-port braised red cabbage, seared crimini mushrooms, chef’s vegetable mélange topped with sauce beurre noisette

7 oz. Herb-Marinated Châteaubriand served with garlic potato-truffle purée, jumbo asparagus, charred shallot forest mushrooms with a bordelaise sauce

Executive Chef Travis Brust of the Williamsburg Inn Regency Room

White Chocolate–Cassis Crème Brûlée
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Chef Travis Brust, Williamsburg Inn

1/2 cup crème de cassis
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/4 cup port
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
Kosher salt as needed
Generous 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise and scraped
1/3 cup roughly chopped white chocolate
3 whole eggs
1 egg yolk

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 275ºF. Bring a large kettle of water to a boil.
Place the crème de cassis, 1/4 cup sugar, port, cinnamon, star anise, and a dash of salt in a small pot. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook until the temperature of the syrup reaches 228°F on a candy thermometer, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

Combine 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar with the cream, vanilla bean, and another dash of salt in a small sauce pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Place the white chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream over the white chocolate and let stand for 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Whisk together the eggs and egg yolks in a separate bowl. Slowly add the eggs to the cream, whisking constantly. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve.

Divide the cassis syrup among four 8-ounce ramekins. Follow with the custard. Place the filled ramekins in a pan that’s at least 2 inches deep. Place the pan on the center rack in the oven. Carefully pour some hot water from the kettle into the pan, enough so that the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the custard jiggles when gently shaken, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Wrap each individual custard in plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving.
To serve, sprinkle each crème brûlée with a tablespoon of the remaining sugar. Burn the sugar with a torch until it’s a deep golden color. Alternately, preheat the broiler and place the ramekins on a baking sheet. Broil the custards until the sugar has caramelized, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Fresh Pea Crostini with Feta Basil Pesto
Serves 4-6
Recipe courtesy of Chef Travis Brust, Williamsburg Inn

For the crostini:
1/4 cup clarified butter
4 cloves roasted garlic
12 ¼-inch-thick slices of French-style baguette
1 shallot, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1/4 lemon squeezed for juice 
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

For the Feta Basil Pesto:
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
12 large fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1/2 lemon squeezed for juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine melted butter with the roasted garlic cloves and spread it on each slice of the baguette.In a sauté pan and over medium heat, sauté the slices of baguette a few minutes until toasted and reserve.

Saute the shallots in 1 tablespoon olive oil a separate pot over medium low heat until they are tender without any color and add the fresh peas and vegetable stock. Cook the peas 3 to 4 minutes or until they are tender and the stock is absorbed. Pour out on a plate to cool. In a food processor or blender, puree the peas with the remaining olive oil, juice of 1/4 lemon, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Reserve, chilled.

For the Feta Basil Pesto, combine the basil leaves, fresh garlic and olive oil and blend until smooth. Add the crumbled feta and juice of 1/2 lemon, and pulse in the blender. Reserve, chilled. Portion the pea puree on the crostini and spoon a portion of the Feta Basil Pesto on each piece. Garnish with micro greens if desired.

Chilled Cream of Asparagus Soup
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Chef Travis Brust, Williamsburg Inn

2 cups canned chicken broth
1 15-ounce can asparagus spears, drained
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 small bay leaf
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
salt and white pepper
1/4 cup whipping cream

Bring chicken stock to boil. Add drained asparagus, onion, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not let the mixture brown. Heat milk and add it to the butter and flour mixture, whisking until the mixture is smooth and thick.

Purée the asparagus-chicken stock mixture in food processor or blender. Strain through a sieve into the milk mixture, pressing down hard on the solids with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is slightly thickened. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Chill thoroughly. Taste for seasoning after the soup is chilled. Stir in cream just before serving.

Avocados Stuffed with Crabmeat Rémoulade
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of Chef Travis Brust, Williamsburg Inn

12 ounces backfin crabmeat
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 large ripe avocados

tomato wedges
lemon wedges
black olives

Rémoulade Sauce:
1 tsp capers, finely chopped
1 tsp gherkins, finely chopped
1/2 tsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped
1 anchovy fillet, finely chopped
3/4 tsp Dijon mustard
3/4 cup mayonnaise

For the rémoulade, combine the capers, gherkins, tarragon, and anchovy fillet in a small bowl, then add the mustard and mayonnaise and mix well. Chill thoroughly until required. Pick over the crabmeat and discard bits of shell or cartilage. Gently toss crabmeat with lemon juice and fold in the Rémoulade Sauce. Peel the avocados, halve them, and remove seeds. Arrange lettuce leaves on each of 4 plates. Place an avocado half on each plate. Fill the centre with crabmeat mixture. Garnish with tomato and lemon wedges and black olives.

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