Upon our return to Connecticut, we read that the talented April Bloomfield had taken up residence at The Mayflower Inn & Spa in Washington Connecticut. Having been a fan of her NYC Gastro-pubs the Spotted Pig and the Breslin, I was anxious to get a taste of her menu which the Mayflower touts as elegant rusticity.
We planned our trip up to Litchfield while looking at the 7 day forecast. Upon making our reservation we specified we would only be comfortable dining outside under their large tent, so we chose a day which looked like it would be 60 degrees and sunny. The staff in the dining room was extremely accommodating (and patient) because as the weather report changed, we shifted our reservation a few times. Luckily, the weather on the Friday before Thanksgiving cooperated, and off we went.
I have stayed at the Mayflower many times over the years. Having gone through many different owners and management teams, it has definitely had its highs and lows.
Currently, the Mayflower is part of the Auberge Resorts collection, and it seems to have undergone a pretty remarkable facelift. What used to be traditional old-world Connecticut design, now seems to be a much younger version of itself following a decorative overhaul by Celerie Kemble. I happen to love her aesthetic, and the younger classic yet quirky vibe is both pleasing and refreshing.
As we entered the Mayflower, we were greeted by this very inviting scene. I really loved this room, it maintained traces of classic Connecticut, but with a bright and happy glow.
Off to the right of the entrance was this cozy little library.
The renovated main dining room, aka The Garden Room is quite fanciful and enchanting. There is presently seating indoors, taking into account appropriate distancing between tables, as well as outdoors.
Everyone at The Mayflower was properly masked, and exceedingly friendly. Upon arrival we were quickly shown to our table outside on the tented patio and then presented with the brief, yet appealing menu. My husband and I were dining with two of our sons, so we had the opportunity to order a nice selection of dishes from the menu.
The one starter I knew we had to try were the deviled eggs. A serving only included one egg (2 halves) so we ordered two. I happen to love deviled eggs, but these were not the best I have tasted. They were nicely presented, but a tad watery.
Next up were the Bread & Butter Pickles with whipped butter and toast. Tasty, but a very petite portion. My sons slathered the butter on the toast as though it were hummus, which may or may not have been the correct way to enjoy it.
Lastly we ordered the Pork Scratchings (otherwise known as chicharrones) which were delicious, but the three men at the table were left wanting more. The small servings seem more in keeping with the spa vibe of the Mayflower.
The Main Courses were next to come. You can get a better sense of the tent from this photo. The side next to our table was fully opened to allow for airflow, though by the end of the meal, the table next to ours had unzipped the entire side of the tent as we were experiencing something of a greenhouse effect. It was very hot. Perhaps to encourage more beer consumption?
One son ordered the Beer Battered Flounder Sandwich. This was voted the best of all the main courses. Tasty, light, and satisfying.
My husband and other son each went with burgers, which we had had in the past at the Spotted Pig. April Bloomfield has consistently been lauded for these burgers, so they were highly anticipated. They were deemed good, but not life changing.
We did order two servings of fries, which were excellent. Similar to “elevated” McDonalds fries, greasy, crunchy, and salty.
I chose to go with the Smoked Beet & Bleu Cheese salad. It was nicely presented, but disappointing. The Tarragon featured a little too prominently and proved to be a distraction.
We were happy to have made the journey up to the Mayflower, and would actually recommend you do the same, though be sure to keep your expectations in line. The food was nicely presented, and the service very amenable, but the dishes themselves were a bit off the mark. The prices are quite high, which makes it even more disappointing. The atmosphere and updated decor held the most allure. It felt great to be out in a “normal” setting, and while Covid precautions were in place, you still felt as though you were experiencing a taste of pre-Covid times. I would return for a weekend, just to soak up the surroundings, and give the Spa a go.
After lunch I was hankering for something to get that tarragon taste out of my mouth, so I convinced the gang to head over to nearby Arethusa Dairy in Bantam for some ice cream. The shop along the Main Street is the place where the ice cream is both made and sold. There is a strict policy as to how many customers are allowed in the shop at one time, so we waited out turn and contemplated flavors.
I decided upon Coconut with Dark Chocolate chunks and Chocolate. The “small” serving includes two very large scoops, and the ice cream itself is incredibly rich, so it was very filling! It definitely did the job of cleansing my palate. The Chocolate was very very good, the Coconut a bit less so.
All in all, it was an enjoyable foray into Litchfield. It was a treat to go on a little excursion, and I would most certainly recommend it. I believe the Mayflower is going to keep the tent in place (with heaters) as late in the season as they can, and they may very well announce a new guest chef in the near future.