Travel Inspiration By A Pro Trip Designer

Dining at Newport R.I.’s Vanderbilt Grace

Food + Wine, Hotel Reviews

Aug
06
2012

Muse by Jonathan Cartwright
Vanderbilt Grace
Newport, R.I.

Despite the weather turning stormy in Newport last Saturday night, my evening was delightfully warm and cozy –-thanks to the generous staff and tasting menu at Vanderbilt Grace’s Muse restuarant. While the rain beat against the windows, I was happily ensconced in a plush corner banquet surrounded by starched white tablecloths, soft blue walls and flickering glass-shaded candlesticks. Needless to say, I was ideally situated for the weather.

Muse at Vanderbilt Grace

Muse at Vanderbilt Grace

Helmed by chef Jonathan Cartwright, a Grand Chef Relais and Chateaux, Muse is known for seasonal New England fare with an international (read: gourmand) flare. The restaurant has also just been awarded “Best lobster dish in New England” by Rhode Island Magazine for its superb butter-poached smoked Lobster. With such an accolade, I couldn’t resist and made that my first dish of the fairly-priced ($75), prix-fix menu.

The Blue Ribbon Special: The Smoked Lobster

The Blue Ribbon Special: The Smoked Lobster

I followed up the award-winner, which was quite good – though, I confess, lobster with mayo and a buttered roll is more my speed – with an intermezzo of white tomato soup with basil dumpling. Not only is the idea of an intermezzo fantastically indulgent, but the soup itself, was wonderfully light – the mark of a good intermezzo. With a bottle of Frog’s Leap Merlot, I opted for the Veal Medallions and Herb Crusted Cutlet of Spring Lamb with Pea Puree, Ratatouille Ravioli and Madeira Sauce for my main course. Other offerings such as pan-roasted halibut or pan-seared Guinea Hen Breast with Quebec Foie Gras were tough choices to overlook, but I’m a sucker for the lamb and madeira combo. Plus, my husband had ordered the Foie Gras for his starter and dutifully given me half (a spousal kindness, if ever there was one). The veal was perfectly cooked while the lamb was ideally spiced, as in lightly adorned with a smattering herbs that enhanced rather than overshadowed the meat’s natural jus. I closed the meal with their selection of fine ripened New England cheese, which was well-selected and came with warm olive toasts. Despite my order of cheese, my sweet tooth is forever primed. Fortunately, our lovely server brought over a decadent plate of truffles as we handled the bill, capping off an excellent meal with just the right caliber of sweetness.

The bar at The Muse

The bar at The Muse

Indeed the above review reads overwhelmingly positive, but it was truly a lovely experience (says the critic). I confess, I’m a sucker for a restaurant who has embraced modernity (well-lit, fresh decor, efficient service) yet maintained the traditions (full, hearty courses, polite staff) of olde-world fine dining. Given the Vanderbilt Grace’s 100-year old history and elegant, brick facade and traditional interiors, I find it an ideal place to dine when visiting Newport. It’s mixture of classic moldings and modern light fixtures make for an attractive melding of old and new and secure it as one of Newport’s top date spots – particularly if you can reserve the corner banquet.

Rooftop Terrace at Vanderbilt Grace in Newport

Rooftop Terrace at Vanderbilt Grace in Newport

ROLLIN’ WITH NOLAN TIP:
Since Muse is located in the front of the mansion, facing the street, the restaurant’s views are unremarkable. However, start the date off with a cocktail up on their roof deck, preferably during sunset, and then the tucked-away atmosphere of the restaurant becomes a welcome compliment to the evening.

Posted in: Food + Wine, Hotel Reviews

Published by Meg, Monday, August 6, 2012 No Comments

Caribbean Hideaways Signing at Forty One North

Hotel Reviews, Personal or Promotion

Jul
30
2012

This past weekend I was in Newport, Rhode Island for a book signing of my second book; Caribbean Hideaways hosted by the lovely folks at Forty 1 North. The assembled group and I enjoyed delicious Caribbean-influenced cocktails made with 10-cane Rum and passed nibbles of jerk chicken and shrimp while I spoke about my signature hideaways hunting methods to a delightful group of Forty 1 North card members. As always, it’s a treat to speak about my passion and share my books with others, not to mention, be a guest speaker at Forty 1 North.

Forty 1 North's chess kit and dockside Grill Restaurant

Forty 1 North’s chess kit and dockside Grill Restaurant

The deck at Forty 1 North is easily one of the best spots in Newport, particularly if you’re a yacht enthusiast. With direct views of nautical traffic in the harbor, plus a row of dock slips that often cater to some of the world’s most elegant boats: Hinckleys, Rivas, or in the case of this past weekend, the 147-foot megayacht, the good spot to people-watch too. With a lively crowd that begins at 5pm and goes until 1am – thanks to a DJ spinning from 10pm, the Grill area is one of Newport’s hottest evening venues.

On the deck before the book signing at Forty 1 North

On the deck before the book signing at Forty 1 North

Instagram photo of the view from our room - note the tall ship cruising by

My Instagram photo of the view from our room – note the tall ship cruising by

The rooms at Forty 1 North, particularly the one I stayed in (Room #1) are incredibly comfortable – the beds especially. With deep soaking tubs (of which my 2-year old son was a particular fan), multi-head, walk-in showers, flat-screen TVs and in-room IPads, all the necessary luxuries are available. But for me, the real luxury comes from the intimate views. The creature comforts are, of course, much appreciated, but its walking out onto the terrace and taking in the splendor of Newport’s Harbor that elicits the sigh of content.

ROLLIN’ WITH NOLAN TIP: If it’s access to Yachts, or those who own them, that drives your visit to Newport, then there is no better place than Forty One North.

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Posted in: Hotel Reviews, Personal or Promotion

Published by Meg, Monday, July 30, 2012 No Comments

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About Meg

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Meg is the founder of luxury travel consulting company, Friend of a Friend Consulting. Her three books, Italian Hideaways, Caribbean Hideaways and England's Hideaways are published by Rizzoli. Passionate about travel, hotels and wine, she continues to write freelance travel pieces and is currently pursuing a Masters in Wine through the WSET.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and do not reflect separate business relationships with the subject. Whenever posts are supported financially, they are designated as such.