New Reasons Why Connecticut’s Mayflower Inn & Spa Is The Ideal Weekend Getaway

On Thursday afternoons, a cart is set up by the croquet green offering glasses of rosé to guests about to try their mallet/wicket skills, a very civilized way to begin a long weekend at 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 offering this day of the week to start off the weekend. New Inspiring Chef Cortney Burns, a veteran of restaurants such as San Francisco’s esteemed Quince and Bar Tartine, just introduced the Garden Delights menu, a unique tasting menu spotlighting the products of the 58 acre resort’s garden along with local purveyors in dishes blending enticing flavors and health benefits based on her herbology and naturopathy expertise. It’s available indoors/outdoors in the Garden Room Thursdays-Saturdays.

As Burns notes, the techniques to promote better health won’t 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 starts meals with fermented vegetables to aid in digestion. All diners will notice that the dishes are creative, flavorful and intensely colorful. The current five course summer garden menu starts with an assortment of starters including feta mousse with corn tabbouleh; slow roasted carrots with green tahini and fenugreek; sprouted rye bread with smoked roe and radishes and pickles and olives. A trio of tomato preparations follows including the simple-sounding but utterly luscious heirloom tomato soup enhanced with chive crème fraiche and anchovy bread crumbs; a spin on vitello tonnato, the classic dish of veal with tuna sauce with a mix of tomatoes in place of the veal, and a tomato ricotta galette.

The next courses are a crispy whole branzino with a cornucopia of sumac, fennel and sunflowers; a grilled short rib steak with strings of romano beans and anchovy accompanied by a fine herb salad and mushrooms and marble potatoes with sour cream and chives. The two desserts are a buttermilk panna cotta on a bed of rice pudding with honeycomb, plums and plum mousse and a mélange of chocolate, red wine and cherries including red wine ice cream, chocolate ganache and cherry mousse. The object is to feel satisfied but not bursting..and you do. Menus will change seasonally with this one in place until the end of September.

Burns’ additions are also available daily at breakfast and lunch and at dinner in the more casual Tap Room: tempting, nutrient rich dishes such as Dutch baby pancake with poached apricots, green almonds & Noyaux cream and grilled ½ Green Circle chicken with spring onions, romesco sauce and black olives. The chef will also put together picnics for guests to experience in the property’s colorful Shakespeare Garden or to take on hikes, bike trips through the countryside or a fly fishing lesson on the Housatonic River. She’ll also concoct preparations 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 its base in New York. Guides from The Well also take guests through Mayflower Forest and nearby Hidden Valley and Steep Rock Preserves for forest bathing or educational hikes.

The inn, which went through a sharp, whimsical redesign in 2020, also has diversions for guests within its walls including twice weekly tarot readings, a collection of vintage books in The Parlor provided by Connecticut’s Johnnycake Books and the one of a kind furnishings store The Huntress curated by interior designer Jenny Wolf for shopping. Excursions can also be organized to nearby Mine Hill Distillery to learn about gin, whiskey and crafted cocktails or to local Litchfield artist Charlie Dumais’ studio, Dumais Made, to create pottery.

At the end of the day, most guests assemble back on the lawn for a ritual familiar to many from childhood: sitting around a fire. And if they still have room after dinner, they’ll give in when handed a skewer with a roasted s’more.

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