Five Things: Muse by Jonathan Cartwright at Vanderbilt Grace, Newport
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
One. Elegance and Service.
The Vanderbilt Grace Hotel and Muse, the restaurant located at the entrance level, deliver the promise that Newport makes to all of us. A chance to walk through the splendor of Newport’s past while enjoying the elegance and upscale accommodations that it still provides. Built by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt in 1909 this property has stood as a testimony to the opulence of family and a city. Happily, the great tradition of pristine service remains strong at Muse. My dining experience was faultless, nothing left to chance, all things considered.
Two. Grace Cocktail.
This eponymous cocktail, crafted by world famous bartender Salvatore Calabrese was a smooth and refined tincture. Muddled lemongrass was mixed with Grey Goose La Poire, pear puree, honey syrup, apple juice and a squeeze of lemon. Finishing the glass off was a deftly placed
Three. Thanks, Jonathan, for the Bisque.
Oh, I’m just going to say it. Best lobster bisque ever. Ever! If I awarded points or stars or spoons this delicious bisque would get them all. This course arrived with a large dollop of cognac Crème fraiche crowned with chunks of lobster meat sitting alone in the center of a bowl. The waiters, in unison, poured the bisque around the lobster to complete the dish for the table. A well-defined smoky flavor permeated the bisque from time well-spent roasting shells. The use of lobster oil elevated the blend even further, delivering a clear and refined lobster essence.
Seldom can I leave so happily after the soup course. Thankfully I was sticking around for dinner as well. A pan-roasted duck breast on cauliflower puree had a perfect execution. Crispy, succulent skin was well adorned with a red pepper coulis and a cardamom-infused sauce. The dynamic flavors in the dish were well crafted and the texture of the accompanying grilled sweet peach slices was wonderful. I was also happy to try the pan seared beef tenderloin. This plate was also impeccably prepared. The tender and flavorful tenderloin was well appointed with a shallot glaze and merlot sauce. The pervasive mushroom flavor throughout the dish was brilliant.
Five. Dessert for days.
If dessert is your course of choice you must head down to Muse. I started with what the house called a ‘pre-dessert’ of berry smoothie shooter and a berry and cream wonton with a tart berry coulis. Certainly a great warm-up for dessert. A peach and blueberry brulee arrived at the table with an almond tuile cage, a peach reduction and a finish of blueberry sorbet. The delicate and buttery tuile paired masterfully with the sweet and tart berry confections. Just when I thought I was done my server brought out a plate of petit fours and of course as I tried to leave… the post dessert, a piece of mildly sweetened cake.
Would I go back? Yes. Anniversary, promotion, Tuesday dinner. Whatever motivates me… I will certainly be back.
Hit “Save”: Muse by Jonathan Cartwright. Mon-Thurs 6-9pm, Fri-Sun 6-9:30pm. Vanderbilt Grace, 41 Mary St, Newport. 846-6200.
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