Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Spiced Pear

The Spiced Pear is The Chanler hotel's signature restaurant in Newport, R.I. As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, I visited the Chanler with my mum. She is lactose intolerant and therefore has trouble finding too many options on restaurant menus...not this time! In fact, her dinner was just as delicious as mine and occasionally some of her courses may even have surpassed my own!

Executive Chef Thomas Duffy makes poetry out of food...like any true genius he can take the simplest ingredients and make magic. First of all, let's talk about the quality of the produce...tomatoes that tasted heavenly, herbs straight from the garden that had been picked that day and fish that just melts in your mouth. What a difference it makes when the ingredients are confident enough to speak for themselves with only the perfect amount of interference from the culinary team.

We had the Ahi Tuna on a bed of cucumbers and soy pearls to start...it was like an explosion of Summertime on one's palette: fresh, light and oh so perfect. Then I had the butter poached lobster with truffled leeks...divine! I only wish I could have more room in my stomach to finish my plate: I was so full.

Throughout the dinner service was exceptional: no request was too trivial and nothing was impossible. The Spiced Pear overlooks the water, you can literally hear the crash of the waves from your table but all the while the French chandeliers and molded ceilings contribute to an air of Newport grandeur. There are a lot of very fine restaurants in Newport...but if you want a grand experience overlooking the ocean, the romance of the Spiced Pear coupled with the delicacy of the cuisine is well, nothing short of exceptional.

Chef Thomas Duffy (Below)

The Chanler: New England's Most Perfect Place

Versailles, eat your heart out: Newport's luxury boutique hotel The Chanler brings European elegance to New England the likes of which you are unlikely to find anywhere else! If you want to be treated like Royalty and escape reality for just a few moments, then you won't regret your stay here.

Last week I decided to take my Mum on a little Newport trip. Let me preface this piece by explaining just how picky and discerning a traveler she is...I travel with her a lot and she has never been fully satisfied with any hotel experience: if it's not the bed linens or the food, there's always something that's not quite perfect. So, you can imagine wha a compliment it is for her to rave about a place!

We arrived at noon at the Newport Transportation Center and got picked up by The Chanler's shuttle service: a luxury S.U.V. complete with uniformed driver ready to drive you anywhere you need to go in Newport throughout your stay: already things were looking up! I felt like we had just accessed the famous Platform 9 & 3/4 from Harry Potter and were being shuttled to a magical place.

As soon as we arrived we were offered a glass of champagne and shown to our room, which in this case was The Louis XVI Signature Room. It is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful rooms in New England and beyond. The four poster bed will make you feel like a real princess or rather a Queen! Everything from the chandeliers everywhere, the fireplace, the paintings to the perfect French Rococco bathroom will transport you to an alternate universe. But the most extraordinary feature was the wrap around balcony with ocean view- simply breathtaking!

We went for a stroll along Newport's famous cliff walk, literally two steps away from the hotel, which overlooks the ocean on one side and Newport's famous Golden Age mansions on the other and for the first time I felt as if Lady Astor and the Vanderbilt's weren't relics of a bygone era that I couldn't relate to, but rather vibrant neigbours who might stop over for afternoon tea...this is how a stay at The Chanler will alter your perception of the world...

Here are a few pictures, it doesn't get any better than this...

The entrance to The Chanler from Newport's famous Cliff Walk...the gardens are perfectly manicured, the hushed whisper of nature at its grandest...here, French poet Baudelaire's words echo throughout "La, tout n'est luxe, calme et volupte" (Translation: Here, all is luxury, tranquility and beauty)

The Chanler lit up in the early evening...yes, it really looks this gorgeous in the flesh...it's a fairy tale come to life.

The Lobby

The Louis XVI Signature Suite...the most beautiful room I have ever experienced! Time stood still for a moment...

The sitting area in my room...

The Balcony with ocean view...

The view...

Everything from the perfectly manicured lawns to the exquisite bed linens was memorable. Most memorable of course was our dinner at The Chanler's restaurant: The Spiced Pear (please refer to the seperate blog entry entitled "The Spiced Pear")

Needless to say my Mum adored The Chanler, from now on it is the only hotel in Newport she will stay in! For her, and for me, this was hotel nirvana...I cannot think of a single thing that could be improved upon...

For all your special occasions: weddings, anniversaries this is THE perfect spot. I know how hard it is to splurge on a fancy suite and I would never give you all the green light unless I was 100% sure this was the best. So, if you have a honeymoon, anniversary or birthday I recommend the Louis XVI Suite...in fact, don't even wait for that special occasion...if you can, book it now because every girl deserves her princess fantasy to come true...even if it's just for a day...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Living like a Vanderbilt

Newport, R.I...it's a beautiful moment frozen in time. With only a hint of imagination, the gilded age and the glamour of a Summer Season with the Vanderbilts springs gloriously to life. Uniquely American but with European influences, the magic of Newport lies in its ability to bridge the gap between Old and New World atmosphere. Nowhere is this unique osmosis felt more intensely than at the Vanderbilt Grace Hotel, owned and renovated by the tasteful Grace Hotels Group since 2010.

From the moment you step into the Vanderbilt Grace you know you have achieved "hotel nirvana". The Old World decor is distinctly modern and tastefully renovated, the service is second to none and the little things you once thought trifling suddenly make your life seem so much sweeter.

Of course, the crowning glory of the hotel is restaurant "Muse" by Chef Jonathan Cartwright. Under the wing of his culinary genius food transcends its function as a mere mode of sustenance and becomes an art form the likes of which museum curators would covet. The service at the restaurant would make Mrs. Vanderbilt herself a little envious...every detail, every gesture is perfectly choreographed. An army of supremely well-trained servers comes out of the kitchen to serve a handful of dishes with ballerina like grace.
There are lots of wonderful restaurants in Newport but if you want to celebrate that special occasion or want to create an unforgettable food experience then Muse is in a league of its own in Newport, and elsewhere.

Visitors to Newport stroll down the famous Bellevue Avenue and visit the gilded age mansions with whimsical nostalgia as they peer through the past, a glamorous window that closed long ago. But when you stay at the Vanderbilt Grace Hotel that window opens up just a fraction...not in a kitchy touristy way, but with impeccable service and gracious hospitality.

If you plan to visit Newport this Summer, the Vanderbilt Grace Hotel is a must!

A few pictures to whet your appetite...