Walking up to the front door of the English Inn feels like going out to dinner at a friend’s home — a friend with a really large, beautifully landscaped, landmark country home. In addition to the dining rooms and downstairs English pub, the English Inn is also a bed and breakfast and home to banquet and conference facilities. With that in mind, I was a bit skeptical of how fine the advertised “fine cuisine” would be. I was expecting banquet fare, but was surprised and delighted by the food and attentive service.
The menu is heavy on classic special occasion dishes, and indeed, several tables around us were there to celebrate a special occasion. There is also a fixed price Four Course Dinner, which is what we chose.
As soon as we were seated, a server brought us fresh warm crescent rolls. The buttery rolls tasted exactly like the rolls my grandmother used to bake for family events. The menu features classic appetizers, from French Onion soup at $5.50 to Chilled Shrimp Cocktail for $12. Our Four Course Dinner included a choice of four first courses. I opted for the stuffed Artichoke Hearts stuffed with crab. Two artichoke hearts are stuffed with a crab cake type filling and artfully arranged on a square plate with dots of sauce. The crab was nicely seasoned and the artichokes very tender. My date ordered the Duck Confit Crostini: fork tender slices of duck topped three rounds of toasted bread spread with blue cheese. A scattering of dried cranberries and sliced green onions cut the richness of the duck. It was delicious and savory.
The Four Course Dinner includes the English Inn Salad for the second course. The salad consisted of a generous plate of fresh mixed field greens with sweet balsamic vinaigrette, walnuts and dots of black olive tapenade sprinkled on top. A slice of toast topped with a blend of goat cheese and cream cheese was served with the salad. The toasty cheese bread and tapenade were a nice contrast to the slight sweetness of the dressing.
The entrées available for the main course were preparations of salmon, pork, beef and duck. The Fennel Crusted Salmon sounded like an interesting combination of flavors, and I was not disappointed. The fish was perfectly cooked and encrusted in a crunchy warm blanket of crushed fennel seeds. The wild rice blend served alongside was just standard fare, but the spears of fresh asparagus were cooked just right — crisp, tender and bright green. My date chose the Roquefort Filet Mignon. He raved that it was grilled perfectly and said it was very tender and flavorful. A dome of piped mashed potatoes and a fresh broccoli and cauliflower blend was served alongside the filet. He even ate all the veggies — they were that good! Fresh vanda orchids garnished the plates for a festive, pretty touch.
We ended our dinner with a selection from a dessert tray, sharing the Crème Brule and a slice of Chocolate Decadence Cake. The Crème Brule was rich and creamy, with a proper brown sugared crust. If possible, the flourless cake was too much of a good thing after a large dinner. It was very dense, rich and chocolaty.
Our server was efficient, friendly and knew the menu well. The owner, Gary Nelson, helped greet and seat diners, and he made his way around the dining room to check on guests. It is always a good thing when a restaurant owner is on site, and he made us feel welcome and appreciated.
The Inn is a beautiful home in a lovely setting. The piano player provided a soft backdrop of music that did not intrude on conversation. With massive fireplaces, white table linens and carved wood paneled walls, the dining room makes a simple night out feel special.
The menu is pricey, as it reflects the beautiful setting and skillfully prepared food, but there are some great specials available. We took advantage of a newspaper coupon, so our Four Course Dinners were $24.95, rather than the regular price of $32 to $39. The Inn also serves a Sunday Five Course Dinner for $17.95.