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The stately Williamsburg Inn, which began construction in 1937, is a stunning example of Colonial Revival style architecture. An impressive two-story portico welcomes guests with open arms, exemplifying Virginia hospitality the moment you arrive.
That extends to the Rockefeller Room, a well-appointed dining room that showcases the culinary talent of the Inn through a featured, five-course prix-fixe menu, which are available with expertly curated wine pairings.
Named after Abby and John D. Rockefeller Jr., the impetus behind Colonial Williamsburg, the space is both refined and relaxing.
My partner, Douglas, and I arrived about 15 minutes ahead of our dinner reservations, just enough time to step into the Terrace Room and grab two cocktails at the bar.
This is a beautifully crafted cocktail list, with some creative takes on classics.
I enjoyed the Catcher & The Rye, a beautiful and bracing blend of Copper Fox Rye “Batch 1937) (which comes from a Williamsburg distillery) with Bowmore 12 year Scotch, Aperol, and lavender bitters. All the elements worked together, with hints of the bitter underneath the grassy rye and peaty whisky.
Doug loved his Tangier Handshake, a refreshing cocktail with a bit of a bite. Woo Woo Vodka, from Virginia’s Eastern Shore’s Cape Charles Distillery, mixes with lime juice, jalapeño-ginger syrup, and basil. The sip I snuck definitely met my approval.
A bar snack of curried mixed nuts with a few chocolate buttons thrown in for a contrast in taste and texture was addictive. The Terrace Room is also open for meals in a casual atmosphere.
At 6 o’clock, we made our way across the hall to the Rockefeller Room.
The space is open and bright, with tall white ceilings and a multitude of curtained windows looking out to the main, circular drive. The walls are a soothing, muted olive green, colors which each in the seating. Brass and wooden accents add to the clubby feel.
From Chef de Cuisine Julianne Gutierrez’s kitchen comes a lovely menu with five courses priced at $128. There are options with each course, except the salad course.
Also optional are pairings with each dish, curated by Maitre d’Hotel Matthew Tlusty for an additional $58. Wines by the bottle are also available.
Service throughout the meal was impeccable.
We started the meal with a lovely amuse bouche, house baked bread, and artisan compound butters.
One of the best oyster dishes I’ve ever encountered in my long and illustrious bivalve career was the Oysters Abby, an offering as the first course.
Here roasted Laughing King Oysters are topped with a luscious, velvety lemon sabayon that is charred on the top, much like a creme brûlée. The tastes and textures were amazing.
Laughing King Oysters are harvested from the southern tip of Virginia’s Eastern Shore near Cape Charles.
The dish is paired with Paul Prieur et Fils, Sancerre Rouge, Loire, France, 2018.
A beautifully presented plate of farmer’s greens is accented with ham, fresno chili and smoked parsnip dressed with a piquant dill pickle vinaigrette. An amazing deviled egg stuffed with pimento cheese comes along side.
Want my recipe for pimento cheese? Contact me
A glass of Teruzzi & Puthod “Isola Bianca”, Vernaccia D.O.C.G., Tuscany, Italy, 2019 is paired.
A most different – and delectable – Duck Pastrami was my pick for the third course.
Playing off the flavors of a classic Reuben sandwich, a sheet of marble rye pasta is laid out and topped with a lovely cured pastrami made of duck. Kraut of brussels sprouts and bread and butter pickles come along side, as well as a smoked tomato aioli that stands in for Thousand Island dressing.
The offering is paired with Dr. H. Thanisch Bernkasteler Badstube, Riesling Kabinett, Mosel, Germany, 2020
It was a time of jet-setters and Continental-inspired cuisine. Meals started with vichyssoise, ended with Baked Alaska, with Pheasant Under Glass in between.
Over the years, dishes have gone in and out of favor, and it’s been a long time since we’ve seen pheasant on a menu. Until now.
My premier course was Pheasant Saltimbocca, two lovely pieces of pheasant, a small fowl, were prepared in the Italian manner of saltimbocca,. Here the bird is stuffed with fontina and swiss cheeses, wrapped in prosciutto and sage, and cooked until the cheese melts and the ham crisps.
Swiss chard comes along side, as well as polenta. The plate is drizzled with marsala jus.
I enjoyed a glass of Etude Estate, Pinot Noir, Grace Benoist Ranch, Carneros, California, 2017 with the offering.
Chef sent out Abby’s Confections, a collection of small, sweet bites. On the plate: Lemon Cake, American Heritage Cremeux, and Honey-Banana Creme Brûlée. I enjoyed all, but the brûlée was amazing in it’s simplicity: fresh sliced bananas, drizzled in honey, and heated on top to caramelize and create a crisp topping.
Royal Tokaji, Late Harvest, Hungary, 2018 was paired with the dessert plate.
A plate of Fine Cheeses was also enjoyed: Firefly Farm’s Black and Blue, Locksley Farm’s Nottingham and Boxcarr Smoked Campo came with fresh honeycomb, sliced heirloom cherry tomatoes, marcona almonds, and benne seed lavash. It was a lovely composition of flavors and the presentation was gorgeous.
A glass of Marenco Strev Moscato d’ Asti, D.O.C.G., Piemonte, Italy, 2021 was offered with the cheese. A perfect ending to a perfect evening.
Be sure to make a reservation for dinner at the Rockefeller Room and check online for the current menu offerings.
The Rockefeller Room is at Williamsburg Inn, 136 E. Francis St., Williamsburg. Call 855-318-0835 or visit www.ColonialWilliamsburgHotels.com
– Patrick Evans-Hylton