Sharpe Hill Vineyard (Pomfret, CT): Destination Dining in Connecticut's Quiet Corner
Sharpe Hill has been one of my favorites for many years. It's also one of my mom's favorites, so as a belated birthday celebration, we met one of my mom's friends and her daughter to celebrate on Labor Day weekend.
It was a perfect day to sit outside and enjoy the setting along with the wonderful food that IS Sharpe Hill. We began our meal with a shared fruit and cheese plate that is our favorite way to begin a meal here. It was more than plenty to serve the four of us--I'll let the picture speak for itself.
As always, I had the filet, beautifully presented, cooked perfectly rare as ordered, and accompanied by red and blue potatoes, some squash, fresh tomatoes and a slaw...not to mention the garden-fresh flowers you see pictured.
Everyone else at the table ordered the lamb and loved it. I'm not a lamb fan, so I can't comment, but it was served with mint jelly, potatoes, tomatoes and carrots. My mom ordered hers medium-rare, our friends ordered it medium. Each dish was cooked as ordered and as you can see, we enjoyed generous portions.
Regardless, we always save room for dessert--especially at places as special to us as Sharpe Hill. Each mom shared a key lime tart with her daughter--and one of our friends pronounced it the best key lime tart she had ever had. Not sure I can argue with her...I found myself wishing I didn't have to share it, it was especially excellent and garnished with mint and fresh berries. Lovely to look at and even lovelier to eat!
My mom chose the Dry Summer Rose with her meal. Our friends both loved the Ballet of Angels. I am a fan of both the St. Croix and Cab Franc and very honestly don't remember which one I chose that day. Both pair nicely with filet.
If you haven't been to Sharpe Hill yet, remember to make a reservation in advance (they book up quickly!) and use your credit card to hold the reservation with a $50 deposit (refundable or can be applied to your bill). Also, if you'd like to do a wine tasting prior to your meal, show up 20-30 minutes beforehand. I love to go with my mom and with friends, but can't deny this is quite the setting for a romantic meal.
- fruit and cheese plate
- filet mignon
- key lime tart
Sharpe Hill Vineyard
108 Wade Rd, Pomfret, CT
Individual French pear tartlet = heavenly bliss on a plate, served in puff pastry with almond paste and topped with fresh berries. Save room! As Janet Jackson sang, "You Want This!" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuRLTi...
Dinner, as usual, was wonderful. Plain and simple, we've never had a bad meal here and last night was no exception.
WHAT ELSE IS NEW
There is a new Pontefract, port-like dessert wine available. And they've opened a little room off the side of the tasting room--which now IS the tasting room--called the Monkey Lounge.
My personal faves remain--the American "California-style" chard and the Cab Franc. Cheers!
For my mom--wild wood-grilled salmon with minted peas and corn and German mashed potatoes with watercress. She loved the salmon, but was less enthralled by the sides. I liked the minted peas and corn. It was interesting/different. In honesty, I was less taken by the German mashed potatoes (with vinegar), but it didn't detract from my overall enjoyment of the meal. I just have enjoyed other mashed potatoes more. It tasted like German potato salad made into mashed potatoes--that's probably more explanatory. As such, to me, it tasted more "picnic-y" than dinner. Still, I appreciate trying new ideas and tastes. My new favorite is Tyler Florence's mashed potatoes with coarse ground mustard--to each her own. ;)
For me, same as always, filet mignon, black & blue, with bearnaise sauce and the same sides above. I'm having the other half for dinner.
For him, the spicy Jamaican chicken. I had a bite and it was very tender, coated in herbs and spices, and was served with some sort of hot pepper jelly on the side and rice. It didn't look like the picture on the sample menu, so perhaps I'm not getting the description quite right, but it didn't appear to be covered in a sauce or served with mango chutney.
I'm looking forward to my leftovers. Still, I cannot get that tartlet out of my mind!
Sounds very nice, the dessert being the best. The peas and corn mix reminds me of the new cook I worked with one time that mixed the green beans and peas together for the banquet. The manager looked at it and said, "That's different." And it was.
That part of CT is beautiful in the winter, was there snow on the ground?
Yes, plenty of snow on the ground and still decorated for the holidays, both in the restaurant and on the ride there. I agree--simply gorgeous out there in the middle of nowhere. :) Only bummer was by the time dinner was over, it was too dark to head over toward 66 to take pictures of the Frog Bridge. At this time of year, the frogs wear scarves. It's a hoot!
It's hard not to heart Sharpe Hill isn't it? :) . Definitely agree that the 'Pontefract' is a winner there. This was already an eye-opener in the tasting room the last time out but I enjoyed our purchased bottles poured with friends some time later even more. Estate grown St. Croix in a Port style? Oh mercy me...get a hold of yourself already.
The runner-up for us was the 'Select Late Harvest' made from estate grown Vignoles...my what a botrytised baby you have! Although our bottles are already gone, I can see myself most enjoying this one at the vineyard on a warm day along with that plate of fruit and cheese...and then letting those wonderful Chow-emotions get the best of me. The other wines were fair enough(not a bad 'Dry Riesling') but these two just took it this time around. Perhaps I was unfairly expecting to be blown away by the others-particularly the 'Cuvee Ammi Philips'-on the last visit?
Either way, there's no doubt beauty is in the glass AND on the plate at Sharpe Hill. Is it spring yet? "Emotionally uncontrollable vinophile wandering a CT vineyard in the dead of winter...News at 11:00".
- What more can I say when even the leftovers look THIS good? :)
- And what is a trip to this neck of the woods without swinging by Willimantic's Frog Bridge on the way home (via Route 66). I was so excited to get these two nice shots of my own.
Here is the history of The Frog Bridge for anyone who'd like the backstory to these fanciful frogs and why they're perched on spools. Be sure to check them out at Christmastime when they're sporting scarves!
P.S. I forgot to mention, but shouldn't have as it was so tasty...we enjoyed delicious, freshly-baked bread with butter (see cute little butter dish filled with fresh butter next to the cheese plate)...so much so, they brought us more. A fantastic meal from start to finish with beautiful scenery and good service to boot.
Very nice photos. Lots of good looking food on those plates.
I lived and worked in Putnam in the early 80's, as chef at a little place called My Kitchen.
Got a nice two-star review from the NYT (CT Sunday version) and also the Norwich Chronicle. It was nice for me, I was just out of culinary school
We served local lamb, beef and poultry, fresh seafood, soft shell crabs, cob-smoked ham from VT and Sharpe Hill wines. Also local produce and we had a great local baker for desserts. I used to drive by the vineyard in Pomfret on my way to work.
Our schtick wasa no tipping policy, which was really popular in what local business people called "The Other Connecticut"; pretty funny promotion, because if you went to any of the local bars any night of the week, you'd see how other it really was. %-)))
Golden Lamb Buttery was in existence as was another place, name forgotten, that served sole with strawberry sauce (!) as a brunch item. That dish was sort of the talk of the town.
I lived in Willimantic also but pre-frog bridge.
That part of CT is just so lovely for a drive and a nice meal, especially this time of year. Wish I could get up there.
Again, thanks for the memories.
I didn't realize Sharpe Hill had been around since the 80s--interesting! I agree, that part of CT is the perfect spot for a drive and a nice meal. Another option, if you should get out this way, is Heritage Trail Vineyards in Lisbon. I was just talking about it with one of my friends this morning. :) But visit on a sunnier weekend than this one.
Yes, I seem to remember that Sharpe Hill was one of the first wineries in CT, certainly in Eastern CT, back then people thought it couldn't be done. Their wine prices are quite reasonable, as noted on the website. I unfortunately haven't seen any of their wines in Brooklyn; my local liquor store is the king of the boxed-wine genre. Ha ha. To each his or her own, I guess.
I have heard of Heritage Trails, I went to high school in that area (Norwich.)
You know, I am somewhat spoiled living in NYC, we really have everything, culinarily speaking, especially. I also think that if I was to move back to CT, the only thing I'd miss (besides the high rents) is that you can everything delivered.
Maybe a little trip to Heritage is in your future?
Actually, I've never had any good fried whole belly clams in NY.