Story and Photography by Manos Angelakis
The Castle Hotel and Spa in Tarrytown, New York, holds a prominent place in Westchester’s history and attracts guests from the area as well as New York City that come to experience exceptional hospitality in this historic property, the THANN Sanctuary Spa now ensconced in the hotel’s grounds, and Equus the restaurant on premises.
Restaurant Equus features three dinning areas: the Garden Room with lovely views of the lush gardens and the historic Hudson River Valley; The Oak Room, with its rich wood paneling first owned by Louis XIV; and the Library which features Mahogany bookcases and a dramatic coffered ceiling. The eclectic cuisine highlights locally sourced, seasonal ingredients and is designed to provide to adult guests a complete dining experience that includes, in addition to the great cuisine, attentively discreet service and an exceptional wine cellar.
We had the chef’s Spring tasting dinner at Equus one evening, and breakfast the next morning. The menu was very interesting with dishes that brought to mind countryside tastes from Italy, Spain, and France. Quite remarkable, as the chef de cuisine on that evening was Japanese, Chef Yoshi.
We started with an amuse bouche of hot asparagus soup with crostini, goat cheese and asparagus spear shavings.
Barbara’s primo piatto was Poached Spot Prawns with chopped cauliflower and sea urchin sauce. A visually very interesting and tasty dish on a bed of poached potato rounds garnished with chives and a slice of lemon.
I started with a Saffron Risotto with green sugar peas, green peas, spring beans and broccolini spears with shaved parmesan. A very Italian tasting primo piatto.
Barbara’s second plate was Maine Sea Scallops surrounded by a fresh vegetable potage, green fava beans, sugar peas and romaine lettuce heart. A light and refreshing seafood delight.
My second plate was Monkfish with Chorizo inside, with carrot sauce, cumin and prosciutto jus. The carrot and cumin gave this dish a very North African taste. I would expect to find this in a Moroccan home, not in a restaurant in mid-State New York.
Then came the meat courses.
Long Island Duck Breast, seared, with wheat berry risotto, goat cheese, red berries and an Albufera sauce. For anyone who has eaten at the Casa do Leão Restaurant up on St. George’s hilltop overlooking Lisbon city, this would be a worthy reminder of the beauty of Portuguese cuisine.
My meat course was Grilled Washu Beef Sirloin, with aligot potatoes, bone marrow, chanterelles and asparagus spears in a Bordelaise sauce. Ah! The beauty of a good French kitchen.
The desserts were indeed exceptional. Both the Chocolate Mousse Cake and the Pineapple Torte were to die for. The espresso was well made, with considerable amount of crema on top.
As the cellar of Equus is very well stocked, we started with nice glasses of a Prosecco, my very favorite light sparkler from Italy, which we also kept for the first course.
A Chardonnay from California was pored for the fish and seafood starters and a Chianti red for the meat courses. I would have preferred a Chilean Cabernet/Merlot blend with the meat, but unfortunately the cellar lacked any. But I quibble!
Breakfast next morning was delightful. On the table was a basket of mini plain and chocolate croissants and other breakfast breads, house-smoked salmon, and local cheeses and salumi.
Fresh squeezed orange juice or grapefruit juice were also made available. The coffee was freshly brewed, and richly aromatic.
For a main course, Barbara asked for the Ricotta Griddle Cakes, a tower of sugar covered pancakes crowned with blackberries. She enjoyed it very much.
I decided to try the Maine Lobster Hash, with poached eggs, roasted fingerling potatoes and crème fraîche sprinkled with chives. A non traditional breakfast treat, which I made magically disappear in a couple of minutes. It was very, very good, exquisitely tasty though a bit on the heavy side to start the day. But I braved through it!
In general, the food at Equus is exceptional and so is the service. Jimmy, our dinner and breakfast server knew the menu inside and out and was able to provide interesting information about many of the more elaborate dishes.
We enjoyed very much our culinary experience at The Castle Hotel and Spa. Though not a Michelin starred restaurant, it well deserves consideration for at least a star, if not two. As the Michelin guide used to say “Worth stopping for a meal”.
© July 2014 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.