Apologies for the late review! On Sunday 3/16/14 my husband & I stayed overnight in the Monroe Room and participated in the 10 course chef’s tasting with wine pairing. We used a voucher we bought from Living Social. Making the reservation was easy and we communicated with Chef Alan via email for confirmation, etc. Initially we were worried about not being able to eat all of the food served because of our small appetites, but Chef Alan was very reassuring and receptive to our needs.
On the day of our arrival we were aware that Stanardsville was due to get 5”-8” of snow that evening. When we arrived it was snowing pretty hard, but honestly it made the neighborhood that much more quaint. The Lafayette Inn is nestled in a small town filled with history; it really looked like something out of a painting. We came inside the Inn & Chef Alan was there to greet us and brought us to our room. He pointed out “Monty” on the second floor which is a sort of statue that we didn't get; it looked like a dead man in a waiter’s outfit, top hat, and serving tray. Monty wasn't scary really, but utterly bizarre. If there is a story about him, we missed it.
The Monroe Room was very lovely. It is on the second floor and it is accessed by walking upstairs and going outside to the porch which wraps around, so the room is accessed from the outside porch. We were given a mini bottle of champagne and a few small bags of almonds. After a 4 hour drive, we were happy to see both :). The room came with a private full bathroom, TV with limited cable channels, gas fireplace, a Keurig coffee maker, radio that has a port for your iPod, sofa, full size bed, clothes closet, chest of drawers, wood floors with an area rug, iron & ironing board, huge windows, and several space heaters. We found the bed to be very comfortable and the linens were very clean – we could actually smell the detergent from them being washed. The sheets & thick blankets were wonderful for the very cold night, as was the fireplace and space heater. The windows are single pane so noise from the street did make it through at times. When the snow plows came by it was very audible, but we actually took comfort in those sounds knowing that hard work would mean we could actually get out in the morning! The room also had a small notebook and pens for guests to write a little note about their stay. We thought it was pretty cool to see the notes of past guests going as far back as 2010.
The Chef’s tasting took place in the small restaurant/room just to the left when you come inside the Inn. There were a handful of other couples taking part in the tasting with us; we were all seated at our own tables as couples. At first it was very quiet, almost awkward, but everyone loosened up after a bit so there was a bit more chatting, etc.
Chef Alan was great with describing and explaining each course and the wine that was paired with it. There were several dishes that he said, “if you don’t eat it, at least smell it,” which we found amusing since you could still get some mileage out of the dish and the wine even if you didn't eat it lol! We had never had a food & wine pairing before and I have a very narrow preference when it comes to wine so I was initially concerned about how I would take to the various pairings. We were so impressed with the pairings & we can’t imagine eating without a wine pairing ever again! The pairings enhanced the flavor of the wine and each dish beautifully.
The tasting (see our pictures of each dish!) began with an amuse bouche of a bacon wrapped date with a balsamic glaze, which was a delicious start to the event – best way to describe it – an event since this tasting isn’t your typical dinner, but a true experience for your senses and we really learned a lot during the near 3 hour experience. It was a nicely paced dinner and Chef Alan explained the details of the food and wine and how the pairing brings out the different flavors and notes in both the dish and the wine.
The first course was Corn Fritters in a Cinnamon Honey Butter which was delicious, warm & crispy and the butter and wine pairing put it over the top.
The second course was Southern Egg Rolls filled with shredded pork, collard greens, onion, & Cajun spices served with Sweet Chili Sauce and a spicy VA Peanut Sauce; this was one of our very favorites, they were warm and very crispy, not greasy, and the sweet chili sauce was scrumptious.
The third course was the Lafayette Salad; this was one of my favorites, too, mixed greens with house-made balsamic vinaigrette, spiced pecans, and apple julienne (basically shoestring granny smith apples). The dressing was thicker than a traditional balsamic; it was so good I began just devouring the salad with my fork and fingers, that’s the sign for me that it is super yummy. The wine paired with this salad was just perfection; the flavors were delicious when mixed together.
The fourth course was a Warm Salad of roasted corn, onions, tomatoes, mozzarella, and a balsamic dressing. Lots of delicious flavors, everything blended well together, and I was thrilled at how soft and flavorful the mozzarella was. I’m used to bland, rubbery mozzarella but this was the exact opposite – we couldn’t get enough!
The fifth course was Vegetable Ravioli – stuffed with grilled veggies in a rich pesto & garlic cream sauce; having small appetites we knew this would kill it for us because we had to gobble up these ravioli. Definitely one of those dishes that you wanted to smell as well as eat. The sauce was so good and flavorful, plus the wine pairing, again this just knocked our socks off.
The sixth course was an accommodation for us since we didn’t want seafood and we were so pleased and touched that Chef Alan remained mindful of our needs: rather than a salmon trio, we had a delicious Mushroom Trio that was basically prepared the same way as the salmon – blackened, with dill, and with wasabi.
The seventh course was Lemon Chicken with Capers. Another fantastic pairing – the wine accentuated the flavors of the dish perfectly. The chicken was light and tender, we loved the citrus and the perfect addition of capers.
The eighth course was another accommodation for us not wanting seafood, so instead of shrimp & stone ground grits, we received a Sautéed Veggie Medley overtop of grits. I have never liked grits but these were impossible to say no to – they were delicious, creamy, and perfectly cooked and seasoned.
The ninth course was a Butcher Cut of Pork, which was very flavorful and tender.
The tenth and final course was a warm bread pudding. This was a perfect end to the evening. We had never had bread pudding and we were afraid it would be too heavy or just too doughy, but it was surprisingly light, packed with delicious flavor, and had we had any more wine in us we would have licked that plate clean :).
We definitely understand their slogan, “Come hungry, come sober.” While the wine pours are small, it still catches up with you towards the end of the evening! It was very nice that we could just stumble back to our room after dinner and marvel at the snow coming down before tucking in to bed. One of the best things was that all of the food that we could not finish was packed up & labeled for us so we could take it back to our room. I was so grateful for this because I am a major midnight snacker & I hadn't brought anything from home to eat at 2am. Our leftovers were perfect for that & we even continued to munch on them once we got home!
In the morning we packed up and took everything to the car & began warming it up & scraping off all of the snow – see the pics, the snow made everything incredibly beautiful! We were served breakfast in the dining room & had our choice of French Toast or what we actually picked – an omelet with spinach, tomatoes, and mozzarella, and our choice of sides. My husband chose the yummy grits and bacon, and I chose the potatoes and sausage, so we could both nibble away at all of the offerings. I’m usually not a fan of omelets, but this omelet not only sounded great, but was very delicious – soft, fluffy eggs, melty cheese, and ripe tomatoes, and not dry at all, just yummy!
Check out couldn't have been more simple - I just gave Chef Alan our room key during breakfast!
Soon after our stay Chef Alan emailed us information on each course and the accompanying wine as he promised, which was very nice and very helpful as we wrote this review. Our stay was wonderful all around and we hope we can return again soon! Thank you Chef Alan for such a memorable & delicious experience!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Trip Advisor "Travelers Choice" for both the Inn and Restaurant. * Award winning restaurant- on site. * Happy Hour- Fridays & Saturdays 4pm-6pm on the Upper Deck (May-Oct) * Gourmet Burgers * Ice Cream- Rated on of the top in Virginia * Sunday Brunch * Local craft beer, cider, wines as well as full bar service. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Lafayette Hotel Stanardsville