By Invitation Only (Sort of)
A new Connecticut restaurant with huge ambitions is betting on the lure of exclusivity.
Because we always want what we can’t have, we want a dinner reservation at The Restaurant at Spicer Mansion, a luxe inn in Mystic, Connecticut, that’s due to open Memorial Day weekend. Trouble is, unless you’re a guest, the only way you’re getting one is by invitation.
The Restaurant is aiming to restore the rapidly fading interest in fine dining by taking a run at it in a rather dramatic fashion, by recreating the finer points of yesteryear’s traditions. Think canapés and cocktails in a grand salon prior to the dinner service. From there, guests will be escorted into one of three Victorian-era dining rooms, where they’ll be seated at tables set with Italian hemstitch linens and Baccarat crystal. Tableside preparations will follow, naturally.
The six-course tasting menu ($115; add another $75 for the wine pairing) will change nightly and pull heavily from nearby farms and waters. Beyond picking herbs from Spicer’s own garden, executive chef Jennifer Backman will be working closely with the Spicer’s sister resort, Ocean House, in Rhode Island, and its on-staff food forager. Backman left another Spicer sister resort, the Weekapaug Inn, also in Rhode Island, to take this position.
And it’s a position that holds a lot of promise in the eyes of Daniel A. Hostettler, the president of Ocean House Management. He sees The Restaurant at Spicer Mansion as the east coast’s answer to Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, which is pretty widely considered the top restaurant in the country.
With that, an invitation feels a lot less likely. —Scott Edwards
Photos courtesy Spicer Mansion