In case a wheel of Beekman 1802 wasn’t enough, the BF’s step dad, Jimmy, also surprised the whole family with reservations for the Fireplace Feast at the Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield, MA. Sounds like a cozy, lovely winter evening, doesn’t it? Well, I am happy to report that all of our expectations were met and exceeded!
The drive out to West Brookfield will put you in the right state of mind for the evening. You kind of feel like you are going “over the mountain and through the woods to..” you know the rest. Through the countryside, The Salem Cross Inn finally appears.
When you enter the downstairs common room, you are greeted by the giant fire place where the evening’s prime rib is already roasting! On the other side of the room you can find a nice lady peeling, coring and chopping apples for tonight’s dessert! She is happy to tell you about the authentic 19th century equipment she is using.
After relaxing for a few, and discovering a new beer that will be added to our list of favorites:
It was time to head out on the hayride! Although Margie & Jim swear that the hayride is much more majestic when it is snowing (and a sleighride), I thought it was absolutely perfect. The chill in the air, the clear sky, the knowledgeable driver, and the beautiful horses all combined for 20 minutes of connecting with nature and smiling.
When we arrived back at the lodge, it was cider time! You could actually choose fresh hot cider or hot mulled wine. We all chose the cider, and it was fabulous. You could taste the freshness, which is always a good thing.
Next up it was time for everyone to participate in the Fish Chowder making! Hot gloves were passed around the room for everyone to take a turn while the chefs added the ingredients. Man, that fire kicks some heat! 10 seconds of stirring and I had to exit the sauna!
You know what that means? Dinner time! We headed up to the beautiful dining room that looks like an old country store, with an actual store front and antiques spewed about. Be warned though, if you are not in a large party you will be sharing a table, which is not always bad.
Each course was brought to the serving table in the middle of the room for dishing up and serving.First up was the chowder we all slaved over. It was delicious. The flavors were all delicate and melded together perfectly.
Next up were the dinner rolls, which were nothing to write home about. Sure, they were good, but I was disappointed that 1. They didn’t bring enough for our table 2. They were not warm and 3. That they were sweet flavors, like pumpkin or pecan. While good, they were just misplaced in this meal.
On to the main event! We were first served family style sides of sweet potatoes and spinach pie. The spinach pie was delicious, but the potatoes were a little too sweet and nutmegy for me. Everyone else loved them.
The prime rib came out next, with new potatoes on the side. I will say, Jimmy did not exaggerate when he told us this is the best prime rib you will ever have. It was amazingly tender, and packed with flavors that did not overwhelm.
The servers came around with seconds of everything, if you could handle it…But there was still dessert to be had! Margie had, for years, told us about the owner and how he “thumped” giant dollops of whipped cream on your apple pie. Unfortunately the owner passed away a couple of years ago, but it was very nice to find out that the lady now doing the whipped cream was his daughter!
The whipped cream…seriously, you have never seen a bowl of whipped cream this big. It took a lot of restraint to not stick my hand right in the middle of it! And on top of the delicious, fresh apple pie…well it was the perfect ending to a wonderful evening!
There were 2 small downsides to my visit. The first was that the waitress had it out for me for some reason. Everyone at the table noticed that she was extremely rude to me, for no reason what so ever. I actually may have been the most subdued person at our table! The second downfall was – NO COFFEE! By the end of the evening, all of the staff had deserted the room and left only one poor waitress to pour coffee for all 150+ guests.
A special thank you to Jimmy & Margie for the lovely evening!