Inn at English Meadows, Kennebunk
Though I am quite impressed by the recent renovations of the Inn at English Meadows, the full scope of the improvements truly sets in when I begin examining the old-fashioned decor in the “before” photographs.
Owners Eric and Liz Brodar purchased the 1860 Greek Revival house in 2010, after many years spent living in New York City working in the garment industry. Their goal was to create a contemporary environment while still preserving the historic beauty of the original home. They set out to achieve this in the winter of 2011, employing interior designer Annie Stickney, and contracting Rainbow Construction of Cape Elizabeth to execute the job.
The results are a perfect marriage of modern amenities and Victorian charm, heralding a new era for the innnow in its 75th year of operation. Newly added features include Frette linens and robes, flat screen TVs in each room, German bathroom fixtures, and toiletries from Malin and Goetz. What remains from before is, well, a large, very old house that has been painstakingly preserved on the outside despite harsh Maine weather conditions.
The Brodars invite a few colleagues and me to a “getting to know the Inn at English Meadows” dinner, giving us the opportunity to see the renovations with our own eyes. Chef David Ross and Merrillee Paul, owners of 50 Local in Kennebunk, make a special guest appearance to prepare a four-course meal for the event, which showcases the style of cuisine at their restaurant.
While chatting with chef Ross, I enjoy a glass of intensely fruity and refreshing strawberry sangria. I am, admittedly, not generally a fan of this beverage, but there is something quite appealing about the very pronounced flavor of the fruit, and I find myself craving another glass.
As we are seated for dinner, the colorful place settings, and particularly the beautiful Italian flatware, provide a pleasing visual contrast with our first wine, the Les Domaniers Côtes de Provence rosé from well-known producer Domaine Ott. It is made primarily from the Grenache grape, and though it is certainly a much drier rosé, it still possesses a lush strawberry flavor that makes it a nice transition from the sangria.
The soup course is a silky, vividly colored puree of ramps. Its texture has been accentuated with a garnish of nasturtium, claytonia, violet petals, and a single crispy fried ramp, making for a “bowl of Spring,” if you will pardon my somewhat campy reference.
To accompany the next two courses, we are presented with the Adelsheim Willamette Valley Pinot Noir from Oregon, which has pronounced notes of sour cherries and earth, and an almost cola-like quality. It pairs beautifully with chef Ross’s pancettawhich actually bears more resemblance to a meaty guanciale found in the next course, along with a flawlessly poached egg and a small nest of bitter arugula, lightly dressed with a black truffle vinaigrette. I am fortunate enough to score a second egg from a neighboring diner, who harbors an inexplicable aversion to runny, delicious egg yolk.
Our final course is fluffy, ethereal gnocchi in a Parmesan cheese sauce, served with mild, fresh fiddleheads, and earthy black trumpet mushrooms that have been dried after foraging and reconstituted to intensify their flavor. Violet petals have been employed once again to impart a shock of color to the overall presentation.
After devouring a dessert of thyme panna cotta served with a dollop of coffee gelato and a wedge of white chocolate, I consider checking into a room with an extra bottle of wine and fading into a good night’s rest. This way, I would be able to experience the decadent three-course breakfast that the inn is famous for… I’ll have to make that happen next time.
141 Port Rd. | Kennebunk | 207.967.5766 | englishmeadowsinn.com
50 Main St. | Kennebunk | 207.985.0850 | localkennebunk.com