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The White Hart Inn
There’s no better time than now to get on the road again and head for foliage central. For us that translates into a drive up Route 8 to Route 44, through scenic backroads to Connecticut’s northwest corner and Salisbury’s White Hart Inn, in the foothills of the Berkshires.
We hadn’t been to the inn in ages and were eager to reconnect, especially after hearing owners Scott and Roxanne Bok had just completed a head-to-toe redo of the 19th-century landmark, long the hostelry of choice for parents of preppies at Hotchkiss and Salisbury School. In the process, they converted 26 small, older guest rooms into 15 luxurious (but not over-the-top) suites and reinvented the inn’s common areas.
Now new and old seem to meld seamlessly. From the spacious fireplaced foyer (formerly the registration area), we ascended a graceful winding staircase to Suite No. 8. There we were
delighted to find an elegant yet comfortable home away from home with a soothing cream-and-gray-blue color scheme, a four-poster bed dressed with Frette linens and a generously sized bathroom that happily married tradition (wainscoting, a pedestal sink) with signposts of the good life (Carrara marble, silver-and-glass appointments).
We could have lingered indefinitely in our comfy sitting room, imagining ourselves back in the 19th century idealized in the Currier & Ives prints on the walls, or enjoying our bird’s-eye view of the inn’s expansive lawn, aka the Salisbury green. But we were eager to try new chef David Miller’s creative cuisine in the Hunt Room, a reinvigorated venue with mahogany beams, warm red walls and a floor-to-ceiling map of Litchfield County c. 1826. Talk about local, Miller’s menu draws on the bounty of the Boks’ Twin Lakes Farm just down the road. So after toasting with a Bellini made with farm-fresh peaches, we moved on to a dinner of sublime roasted corn soup made from Twin Lakes corn, tender steaks from the farm’s grass-fed cattle and just-picked salad fixin’s. As for dessert, Miller’s ethereal banana mousse cake won raves from Southern Living and his chocolates, in a dazzle of shapes, colors and flavors, are not to be missed—he owned three restaurants and a chocolaterie in Florida before being lured north by the Boks, and brought his talented pastry chef, Taylor Radan, with him.
The Hunt Room is welcoming to the max, but so too are the inn’s two other dining/gathering spots: the cozy Tap Room and wraparound porch, the latter perfect for outdoor dining—or just settin’. Lots of guests do just that, book or newspaper in hand.
But after lunch the next day on the porch (we recommend the Twin Lakes burger, served with heirloom tomatoes on a grilled pretzel roll), wanderlust kicked in and we were off—to explore nearby Millerton, N.Y., home of Harney & Sons Fine Teas and its charming tasting room/tearoom/shop; the shops and galleries in walking distance of The White Hart (notably, The White Gallery and Joie de Livres, the rare-book and photography gallery at Salisbury Wines); and the glorious Litchfield Hills. Speaking of which, the Appalachian Trail passes right by The White Hart and Connecticut’s tallest peak, Bear Mountain, is due north.
While it’s home to just 4,500 residents, the town of Salisbury, comprising the villages of Salisbury, Lakeville and Lime Rock, is quite the restaurant mecca, with Pastorale, The Boathouse, Interlaken Inn and The Woodland in addition to The White Hart. We decided to check out the newest entry, Café Giulia, brainchild of architect-turned-chef Robert Willis. Verdict: We’d go back in a heartbeat for Willis’ spinach salad with roasted beets, oranges and mint, pan-roasted duck with Bosc pear sauce and blackberry clafoutis.
In fact, after only two days we found ourselves savoring the country life and reluctant to leave—it’s easy to fall into a kinder, gentler pace in these bucolic environs. On the way home, we learned about the Litchfield Hills “Tour des Farms” (860/343-8085, ext. 147; active.com) kicking off at Freund’s Farm in nearby East Canaan Oct. 2, and the Salisbury Fall Festival Oct. 8-10. Time to call The White Hart re availability, not to be beaten out by all the (other) leaf-peepers.
For more information, call (860) 435-0030 or visit whitehartinn.com.