Stepping into The Charlotte Inn is like stepping back into another time. A time where life was slower, more purposeful and dare I say more romantic.
I have been to The Terrace at the Charlotte Inn many times to meet with chefs over the years. Each time I have gone, I would always think about all the things I would change to make The Terrace more trendy, more modern.
However, on my most recent visit to meet with the new executive chef, Michael Rottman, I finally see that I have been wrong about how I have been looking at The Terrace all these years.
This visit was the first time I notice the sign for The Green Room, where people tend to like to dine at The Terrace off season. The room is cozy, warmed by an ever burning fire and is filled with beautiful antiques.
I was greeted by Jeremy, my favorite server there. He remembers guests, is quick with a smile, a drink recommendation, and is so fond of The Terrace. Speaking of drink recommendation, a chilly Spring evening, and he suggested an classic cocktail, an Old Fashioned. Excellent choice Jeremy!
As I was sitting there, I looked around and saw how much the other diners were enjoying themselves. Gorgeous china, a burning fire, soft music, all provide a truly lovely dining experience. There is nothing loud or garish. It is a place where you enjoy the beauty of the space, your company and the food.
I realized that this space and the main dining room are just as they should be. Spaces that are for special meals, a place to have dinner to savor, a place to celebrate refinement.
When I spoke with the chef, Michael, had so much to say about his new home. He has an attachment to The Terrace that runs deep. His mentor, Michael Brisson had his restaurant l’etoile for over 20 years in The Charlotte Inn, for many years before opening up at his own location.
Michael (R) learned so much from Michael, and they have a bond that runs deep. For Michael to be the chef in the space that his mentor once cooked in is both exciting and humbling. It is as though life has come full circle for Michael here. It is as if he has come home.
Michael is prepared to cook amazing food, food that is close to perfection. The Terrace is the restaurant of the iconic Charlotte Inn which has Relais & Châteaux status. This is a huge commitment as an Inn, a title that is an honor to have. Guests expect perfection, and Michael believes that his sole purpose is to ensure the quality of the guests’ experiences.
How fortunate for us that The Terrace is open to the public, and that we get to experience something so special, in a place that is so special. So, I have hung my silly notions of change and understand exactly what The Terrace is and how much it has to offer.
Guests expect the best when dining here. With these expectations, Michael is being very selective with the items he uses. For example, he is using oysters from one Martha’s Vineyard farm, Cottage City, because for him they are the best.
He is working with local farms to secure the freshest local foods and is also creating a number of housemade specialties like chicken liver pate, fresh pasta, and housemade butter just to name a few.
The menu is New American French with an attention to ingredients and presentation. Delighting guests with classic flavor combinations with a modern twist, with a classic presentation. It’s about preserving the past, celebrating the integrity and the history of the Inn.
Dinner is served at a slower pace. Courses are savored. The intermezzo is back in style, taking the time to cleanse the pallet so everything can be enjoyed.
The menu at The Terrace will change often, since the ingredients will change with the season and availability from local sources.
Another nice touch is that the chef sends out a surprise tasting course. I was delighted to have a gorgeous scallop mousse ravioli with a champagne buerre blanc. Almost too beautiful to eat, this was my first taste of scallop mousse and hopefully will not be my last.
There is am impressive list of choices for your first course like Cottage City Oysters with Roasted Garlic Butter, a wonderful cheese plate, the Green Terrace salad, and of course chef’s chicken liver pate, just to name a couple.
The chef recommends the pate and of course I had to have the oysters since I typically just get fresh ones to shuck. These were a special treat. Michael’s garlic butter is so decadent with the oysters.
For your entree, the decision may be a bit of a challenge for some. However, I was immediately drawn to the Espresso Crusted Filet Mignon. The bold espresso with brown sugar on the perfect piece of filet cooked medium rare is simply incredible.
I also had to try Michael’s Bolognese with veal, pork, beef, fresh made pappardelle, and Tuscan sheep milk cheese. This was a meal that owners, Garrett and Paula Conover requested for the menu. A great idea as people love a good Bolognese!
After all that rich, delicious food, there was still dessert to be had. The choice was once again simple. Michael’s Earl Gray Crème Brulée with fresh berries. This is a truly magical dessert – well balanced and what you would expect at the end of dinner at The Terrace.
Chef Michael Rottman’s talents shine at The Terrace. There is something about this space that touches his soul. A combination of things, working in his mentor’s past space, the respect from the owners of the Charlotte Inn, and that so much of the Inn and restaurant reminds him of his grandparents – wonderful memories from his childhood.
We wish The Terrace at the Charlotte Inn a wonderful 2019 season in grand style!