You need to book dinner at Winvian Farm, the five-star Relais & Châteaux
resort, spa, and restaurant in Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills. Known for its
idiosyncratic accommodations — a beaver lodge, log cabin, lighthouse, silo,
Arts & Crafts bungalow, or Sikorsky helicopter tucked discreetly into the
landscape — the 113-acre property also offers an unparalleled dining experience that starts with chef Chris Eddy pulling together his daily menu for
The Restaurant at Winvian Farm by strolling through 3 acres of vegetable
and flower gardens flush with organic produce.
Eddy, a Vermont native, began his cooking career in St. Louis and then
worked in New York City with star chefs Daniel Boulud and Jean-Michel Ber-gougnoux. Feeling the need to round out his résumé, he went to Las Vegas in
2005, where he worked at Alain Ducasse’s Mix, making a bargain with his
wife, Kate, that they would stay in Nevada for just one year.
Meanwhile, in Connecticut, Maggie Smith was converting property her
parents-in-law, Winthrop and Vivian Smith, had bought in 1948 and named
Winvian (a combination of their given names) into a distinctive and imaginative resort. Eddy arrived in June 2006 and Winvian Farm had its soft
opening in November of that year. The land’s deep agricultural roots ( Winthrop and Vivian had raised animals and vegetables on the farm) appealed
to him. “What could be more luxurious for a chef,” he says, “than vegetables
growing in your own garden.” Even so, the practical gourmet asked for only a
modest vegetable garden in 2007, focusing primarily on zucchini, radicchio,
jalapenos, arugula, fresh herbs, and sunflowers, which would become a seminal ingredient in his cooking. “I had no idea,” he says. “When I sprinkled
the petals into salads, the flavor was exceptional.” Soon, the dimensions of
the vegetable garden began their steady expansion to 3 acres of organic gardens and four greenhouses.
Eddy had no experience with gardening but read everything he could get
his hands on (Barbara Damrosch’s The Garden Primer, 1988, Workman Publishing Company, is a dog-eared companion) and experimented continually.
Never tried sunchoke ice cream or cardoon
soup? Do you doubt for a nanosecond that
kale cake can be absolutely lip-smacking
The Restaurant at Winvian Farm is open for dinner
Wednesday through Sunday from 6: 30 to 9 p.m. and for
lunch on Saturday and Sunday from 12: 30 to 2 p.m.
Reservations are required; 860-567-9600, winvian.com.