Written by Charlene Peters for New England Fine Living (published summer issue 2015)
Photos by Eric Roth and Linda Smith Davis
Like a mad scientist, Executive Chef Stephen Coe and his team gather in the kitchen outfitted for creations of molecular gastronomy. In La Belle Epoque fashion, plates are served with the utmost flavor-forward and creativity in mind, tailored to sophisticated palates of guests who dine in the spectacular ambiance inside the Mirbeau Inn & Spa restaurant, Henri-Marie. Although the château may look like it belongs in France, it’s actually in The Pinehills development of Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Architecturally, Mirbeau Inn is fashioned after a French Manor, with interior design of French country and toile-patterned drapes and bedding. The guest rooms have claw foot tubs, walkouts to verandas overlooking the Monet-inspired gardens; every inch of Mirbeau and its grounds were built with the intention to be viewed.
Just outside of Mirbeau is The Pinehills golf course and walking paths, so there’s activity for everyone. But if you want to stay inside,
the state-of-the-art fitness room and exercise room welcomes you. For weekday guests, the option to indulge in “Tuesday Teatime” and “Wine and Cheese Wednesdays” is offered each week. And then there’s the spa.
The bar has been lifted with the grandeur of Mirbeau Inn & Spa, most notably around the simulated Plymouth Rock in the middle of a 14,000 square-foot transition room inside Spa Mirbeau. Surrounding the rock is a pool of water available for foot soaks before a treatment. Each treatment room has a gas fireplace for ambiance, but heat is an option. However, there is no choice but to surrender yourself in the capable hands of a Mirbeau massage therapist.
The exquisiteness of Mirbeau Inn & Spa astounds, and I feel the Fran- cophile in me churning as I roam from the baroque-inspired Bistro to the restaurant. Henrie Marie is designed in 1920s Art-Deco style, fashioned after a private estate in Paris. It is here where I took my seat to experience a movie-themed seven-course dinner. As it turns out, it was a bit more than seven courses, beginning with an amuse bouche of one French mac- aroon that wasn’t just any macaroon. This small, buttery yellow treat was packed with molecular gastronomical genius. The instruction: allow it to sit on your tongue, hitting your palate for a while before slowly breaking it up. The sensation is akin to eating a large handful of buttered popcorn.
Before the first course, I was served a petit popover with honeycomb butter harvested from bees owned by the chef. The stage was set for a nightofculinarytheaterwhosethemechangesonthechef’swhim.
Tonight’s first course: “Forrest Gump” peas and carrots, to which I ate some of the molecular-structured carrots, but handed over the pod of peas to my husband, since some childhood dislikes never change. Next, “James and the Giant Peach” of scallop ceviche pieces in a peach consume with panna cotta made so perfectly I consciously slowed down to enjoy each smooth scoop. And then, deconstructed “American Pie” of cheddar ice cream with the slightest cheese flavor, a scoop of green apple pie filling and a dehydrated slab of speck prosciutto in a presentation worthy of being served to royalty.
The next film, er ... course was “A Fish Called Wanda” of seared tuna, edible sand, avocado mousse, and tobiko (fish roe) with black vinaigrette. It took a while to figure out that the little black balls were actually squid tapioca. The next course proved the most filling: “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” made with local spaghetti squash and bed- ded under a large, dense meatball soaking in tomato broth and topped with Parmesan foam.
Stealing the spotlight, “Pineapple Express” was served by Coe and his pastry chef. As they lifted off the plate’s lid to a smoky welcome pine- apple intermezzo, there were audible oohs and ahs. It would be best to mention that Coe once had a stint at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, so he has learned how to cook outside the box from one of the masters.
Finally, “I Am The Cheese” showcased Coe’s honey and seasonal house made jams with cheeses, and the final plate of Augustus Gloop (“Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory”) was a menagerie of truffle, nibs, chocolate milk and more decadence.
Upon our farewell morning, we absorbed the gardens that surround the Monet-inspired green bridge during breakfast of duck confit and sweet potato hash served on a crispy local egg, and croque Madame accompanied with a cup of cappuccino.
Although I was in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the only connection
to pilgrimage was that I was served locally-sourced food. Coe, the mad scientists/molecular gastronome, knows how to shake up a menu like no other, while Mirbeau Inn & Spa knows how to cater to Francophiles.