We’re at The Essex, a “culinary resort” in Essex, Vermont. Everyone raves about The Junction, so we make reservations for Saturday night and prepare to tuck in for Chef Alex’s six-course tasting menu.
At first, things don’t go well. We’ve reserved a seat at the chef’s table, a communal bar bordering the kitchen, where diners can see (and sample) the dishes being prepared. The young man at the door, however, tells us our reservation wasn’t relayed properly. Instead of escorting us to the chef’s table or even the energetic main dining room, he leads us to one of three tables in “the private dining room” — essentially, a cold, dark, undecorated closet with three tables in it.
I’m usually a “get along” kind of guy, but this wasn’t the experience we signed up for (especially not at $85.00 per plate). At first, I’m told there’s nothing to be done … but after I go back to collect Clyde and eat elsewhere, the young fellow appears again, apologizes, and takes us to the dining room.
Here, the energy is better, and the quirky decor (place settings glued to the ceiling and a wide glassed-in fireplace that burns bright blue) make for a better surrounding for our six courses: the parmesean bisque with walnut oil, the baby greens and pear salad, the perfectly cooked little scallop (pictured above), my duck breast and Clyde’s lamb loin, the Bonnieview Farm chedder with bee pollen and blueberry, and the chocolate pot de creme.
Once we’re in the right surroundings, the food’s good, the service is on point, the visits from the Chef are pleasant enough (though I’ve no idea what to say to him), and the meal overall is worth the price of admission. Recommended.