By Telly Halkias
Whether your love is brand new or decades old, a romantic dinner for two is always a great way to keep the spark alive. But finding the right venue for an intimate evening can be more time consuming than you think. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of romantic locales offering a range of delectable fare, from farm-to-table staples to the finest in French cuisine. Whatever the reason for your visit, each is perfect for Valentine’s Day or just a night out on the town.
Nestled along Vermont’s Historic Route 7A in the village that once was Norman Rockwell’s home, an intimate table for two awaits an anniversary, a first date or once-in-a-lifetime proposal at Jonathon’s Table. Here, candlelit romantic ambiance is married with epicurean delights in a warm, charming hideaway. The cozy interior belies the extensive menu full of classical and thoughtfully eclectic offerings.
Share delicious meals, scrumptious desserts and delightful wines. The delectable prime rib, a house specialty, and succulent seafood, are accompanied by a house salad and garden-fresh vegetables. Dessert presentation is full of delicious choices including a maple crème brûlée that is to die for. The talented wait service is attentive, yet unobtrusive. Jonathon’s Table is a not-to-miss and memorable experience, both for lovers of art history, and lovers, period.
29 Sugar Shack Lane, Arlington, Vt.
Information, directions and menu: 802-375-1021 or jonathonstable.com
Dinner: $17 – $30
Named “One of the Most Romantic Hotels in the World,” Blantyre offers the luxury of a Forbes Five Star resort within a historic English Tudor Manor House, nestled on 110 acres of lush lawns and woodlands in the Berkshires.
Built in 1902, Blantyre retains its Gilded Age-charms, evident in the resplendent antique furnishings, fireplaces, sumptuous fabrics and flowers found within.
Dine on delicacies like squab and foie gras terrine, braised pork belly and poached Faroe Island Salmon in the conservatory, where intimate tables for two are lit by gold chandeliers, or within the elegant wood-paneled dining room. Dining at this property is an exquisite experience with outstanding service, a charming atmosphere and extraordinary farm-to-table cuisine. Enjoy a pre-dinner glass of Champagne in the Great Hall or a glass of wine in the historic Music Room while you select from a traditional Bistro menu or prix fixe multi-course dinner, which can be paired with wines selected by the in-house sommelier at an additional price. Blantyre received Wine Spectator’s “Grand Award” for its wine cellar with more than 9,000 bottles and 2,200 references.
16 Blantyre Road, Lenox, Mass.
Information, menu and directions: 413-637-3556 or blantyre.com
Dress: Smart casual
Dinner: $125 per person for three-course prix fixe dinner menu, Wednesday through Sunday. Bistro menu, $12 – $38, available only on Mondays and Tuesdays, for lunch and dinner.
The Mill on the Floss
For the past 44 years, the Champagne family has been the keeper of The Mill on the Floss. In the early 1900s, a judge from New York developed the 1700s farmhouse, with a beautiful rock maple addition, into a summer residence while maintaining the exquisite landscape and preserving an operating grist mill.
Since 1973, under the expertise of the Champagnes, the Mill has become a prime destination for haute cuisine in the Berkshires. Chef Suzanne Champagne Ivy has created the perfect balance between her contemporary approach to French cuisine and the classical techniques taught to her by her late father, Maurice.
The Mill is well-known for its menu, which includes coq au vin, roast duckling, sweet breads and rack of lamb, as well as scrumptious desserts such as Gâteau Maison, crème caramel and chocolate mousse.
The Mill is truly a cozy, romantic and beautiful place. Perfect for Valentine’s Day, or any occasion throughout the year. As their owners are fond of saying: “When you want to make it special, make it The Mill.”
The Mill on the Floss
342 U.S. Route 7, New Ashford, Mass.
Directions, menu, and full contact info: 413-458-9123 or millonthefloss.com
Dinner: $29 – $36
The Dorset Inn
The northernmost point on this winter’s romantic dining sojourn, nowhere says “quintessential Vermont village green” quite like the welcoming approach of the historic Dorset Inn.
Valentine’s Day, that cozy February winter night, is ideal for dining fireside in the historic red dining room or classic New England tavern. Think comforting and warming foods. Foods for sharing — such as an appetizer of mussels. Other delicacies such as roast turkey croquettes, veal paillard, roasted duck breast, and Citizen Cider Unified Press Hard Cider will await both the casual and discerning couple looking for a romantic evening that feels like home, but with a little bit of pampering. Or, pair these offerings with a large format craft beer ideal for sharing, Champagne cocktails and aphrodisiacs such as oysters on the half shell. And of course, for dessert, decadent chocolate! Flourless chocolate torte with chocolate mousse, dark chocolate ganache and raspberry coulis.
The Dorset Inn
8 Church Street, Dorset, Vt.
Information, directions and menu: 802-867-5500 or dorsetinn.com
Dress: Business casual in the dining room; casual in the tavern
Dinner: $45 per person for a prix fixe Valentine’s Day menu. Nightly dining room menu, $15-$34.
The Old Inn on the Green
Many historic American inns offer the intrinsic romance of a time gone by, with boot-worn wooden floors and stairs, a muted color palette, and details created by the artisans of the era.
The Old Inn on the Green offers all that and more. Considered one of the culinary gems of the region, it’s reputation is partially due to Chef Peter Platt’s close ties to local farms and purveyors.
A standing tradition is Saturday’s Prix Fixe Menu, a four-course meal with nine choices of appetizers and entrees, including dishes of short ribs, roast duck breast, lamb shanks and tofette funghi, as well as four to five desserts to choose from. A Chef’s Tasting Menu, available nightly, offers plates of roasted squab, seared medallions of foie gras, crispy veal sweetbreads, poached lobster and organic Scottish salmon.
The dining room, lit exclusively by candles (plus two roaring fireplaces in winter) provides the glow of both romance and authenticity. A hand-painted mural of the town green, when it was farmland, graces the restaurant’s eastern wall and unique seasonal decor made with natural materials can be seen throughout.
Considering its small town location, the menu and service surprise with big-city sophistication, and an in-house pastry chef assures that the end of the meal is as spectacular as the rest. Patrons swoon over the inn’s vintage wine list, and if the swoon is protracted, there are 11 cozy and tasteful guestrooms for overnight stays.
The Old Inn on the Green
134 Hartsville-New Marlboro Road, New Marlborough, Mass.
Directions, menu, and info.: 413-229-7924 or oldinn.com
Dinner: Chef’s Tasting Menu, $95; Saturday Prix Fixe Menu, $75; Mid-week Welcome Menu, $40; a la carte menu, $12 – $46, offered nightly, except on Saturdays and holidays.
The Publyk House
The old barn on Harwood Hill that is The Publyk House is made for an intimate evening, where you’ll dine in one of four distinct rooms, all with breathtaking views of Mount Anthony framing the Bennington Battle Monument — always splendidly lit in winter. Start the night sipping winter craft cocktails — peppermintinis, caramel apple martinis, sugar plum fairies or chocolate covered raspberries — at the bar. For those who choose to arrive a little early, the newly opened Orchard Room features a large stone fireplace and a wall of windows perfect for enjoying beautiful winter sunsets. The second two-sided fireplace complements The Publyk House’s other two rustic dining rooms.
Winter specials offer up hearty fare that feeds the body and warms the soul. Begin by sharing the warmed baked brie topped with brown sugar, maple syrup and pecans. Dinner specials are sumptuous. Of course, if you make it a Valentine’s Day date, it won’t be complete without one of its famous chocolate dessert specials.
The Publyck House
782 Harwood Hill Road, Bennington, VT
Directions, menu, and info: 802-442-7500 or thepublykhouse.com
Dinner: $17 – $48
Telly Halkias is a national award-winning, independent journalist. He lives and writes from his homes in southern Vermont and coastal Maine.