Boulud in the Berkshires
They spent the spring in Paris, June and July in Newport, August in Bar Harbor or Saratoga—but September and October were reserved for the Berkshires.
The mega-rich of the Gilded Age enjoyed their earthly pleasures and among them were opulent “cottages”—seventy-five of them in just Stockbridge and Lenox. The Vanderbilts, Morgans, Carnegies and Choates have largely disappeared from the Berkshires’ social landscape but twelve of their sumptuous constructions, perfect representations of conspicuous consumption à la the late-19th and early-20th centuries, remain and have now been repurposed for the enjoyment of today’s elite.
Lavish entertainment was the hallmark of gentility among the one-percenters of the Gilded Age and exquisite food was central to that, created by a cadre of chefs carried along on the seasonal migrations of their employers. Today Blantyre, built in 1902 as the seasonal home of wealthy New York businessman Robert Paterson, carries on the tradition of bountiful hospitality, a tradition only slightly affected by the restrictions of the Corona virus.
Indeed, the impact of Corona has offered the charming Relais and Châteaux hostelry a unique opportunity. Through mid-October, the red-brick Tudor mansion is home to Café Boulud New York at Blantyre. During this time, Michelin-starred Chef Daniel Boulud’s team will undertake dinner service Wednesday through Sunday, weekend brunch and private parties.
The renowned chef is not working daily at Blantyre but pops in to check in on his team. Because Café Boulud in New York has not been able to open due to COVID, many of the staff have relocated to Blantyre for the summer to support the pop-up. Executive chef Jerrod Zifchak is at the helm in the kitchen while general manager Rachel Ossakow heads up operations in the dining room.
“It is an honor to be collaborating with a culinary innovator like Daniel Boulud, whose presence will elevate Blantyre to a world-class dining destination,” says Linda S. Law, owner and steward. “Our partnership is a much-needed bright spot in what has been a challenging few months for everyone. Now more than ever, people want to enjoy special moments with an added measure of safety and security.”
She noted that the estates 110-acres seem designed for social distancing.
Boulud, a French chef and restaurateur, has restaurants in New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C., Palm Beach, Miami, Toronto, Montréal, London and Singapore. He is best known for the eponymously named restaurant Daniel, in New York City, which has two Michelin stars.
New York City remains locked down for indoor dining. Boulud has only been able to open Bar Boulud and Epicerie at 64th Street and Restaurant Daniel on their terraces. He said the interruption in business offered a perfect opportunity to explore the environs of the Berkshires, where many of his New York friends and customers have homes.
“We were not thinking about bringing Café Boulud to Blantyre but did have in mind doing some kind of activation during the summer,” he said. “As we were not ready to open Café Boulud New York yet, it was a great opportunity to bring it on the road.”
Guests to Blantyre at the turn of the last century would have undoubtedly been treated to the elegant French food so favored by Victorian elite. Boulud’s innovative “pop-up” bistro echoes that tradition, albeit with a lighter touch. He brings the flavors of the original award-winning Café Boulud on New York’s Upper East Side to Blantyre, combining the finesse of his seasonal French cuisine with the warm hospitality of a neighborhood café.
Using fresh and local ingredients, many sourced directly from suppliers around the region, he creates summery French classics with a twist. For instance, diners can start with a cucumber and avocado vichyssoise with lobster, dill cream and pickled Fresno or a Vietnamese summer roll with poached shrimp, marinated vegetables, mint and cilantro. Not your thing? How about a tuna crudo with compressed melon, yuzu, shiso and sea beans or a pâté en croute.
A main course might consist of a sweet corn risotto with chanterelle mushrooms, shaved Parmesan and tarragon or a rack of lamb Provencal with confit cherry tomato, zucchini, eggplant puree, chickpea panisse and rosemary-scented jus. Branzino “Cha Ca’ with turmeric, vermicelli noodles, scallions, peanuts, and fish sauce vinaigrette is another option, as is Poulet Roti à L'Ail (garlic-roasted chicken) with a summer bean fricassee, kale and natural jus.
The three-course prix fixe meal is $78. Dinner and dessert menus can be found online at blantyre.com
There is an extensive list of wines, cocktails and beers available.
Beyond weekend brunch and dinner service, specialty dining experiences are also offered, ranging from picnics—including a Gild Age picnic—to intimate celebrations.
The bistro has clearly been a hit with diners—61 out of 78 customer reviews give it a full five stars, while the majority of the remaining diners award four stars.
The restaurant, which is open to the public, provides dinner service 5 to 9PM Wednesday through Sunday, and brunch 11:30AM to 2:30PM on Saturdays and Sundays. Reservations are required and can be made online or by calling 413-637-3556.
Meal service throughout the property is in complete compliance with state and CDC guidelines for dining inside or al fresco.
Blantyre Country Estate, which is also accepting overnight reservations for its 24 elegant accommodations, was the first United States hotel to become a member of Relais & Châteaux.