Photos: Dinner at Glenlaurel Inn
The night that we drove to the Glenlaurel Inn was consumed by fog making the Scottish inspired Inn so much more convincing. The Inn lies on 140 acres of land and is tucked away into a corner of woods. The main house is lit by soft lights, giving it a warm and welcoming glow even the coldest of nights.
As you step into the Inn, you are beckoned by rich and luxurious Scottish decor. On the main floor is a romantic dining room with small intimate seating, meant for the couples seeking a romantic getaway. Below is a cocktail room with a bar and fireplace and down the hall is another dining room with a large table, easily sitting 15 for larger groups. The scene isn’t as intimate but the length and grandeur of the table takes you into a medieval castle setting. We were first served a beautiful assortment of cheeses and crackers, with cocktails. Once called to dinner the head in keeper read us a poem that she personally selected for our group. She does this for every diner, making everything a personal and meaningful experience. Every day at Glenlaurel a unique six to seven course meal is made using fresh and as much local produce as much as possible.
The first course was a Pan Seared Diver Sea Scallop with Champagne Vanilla Bean Beurre Blanc and Gaufrette, and yes it was as good as it sounds. The single scallop was beautifully and carefully placed on the bed of sauce with light bean sprouts for added texture. The concept of savory and sweet being put together is always something that makes me nervous but the subtle sweetness of the scallop was perfectly balanced with the light vanilla bean sauce. Scallops are something that a lot of restaurants seem to put on their menus in attempt in looking sophisticated but always seem to fall short. However, the sear on this scallop was near perfect and the inside was neither over or undercooked, as scallops can quite easily become.
The second course was a Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Ohio Proud Maple Creme Brown Sugar Croutons. This soup was very rich, sweet and delicious, and this is coming from someone who dislikes almost every soup. The presentation was simple and humble in comparison to the scallop, with a swirl of cream and a gathering of croutons in the middle, the complexity of the flavor however was incredible. There must have been at least ten different spices used in the creation of this soup and the croutons added the perfect amount of crunch, giving your pallet a textural break.
The third course was Arugula Tossed with Herb Oil, Pignoli Crusted Brie and Raspberry and Balsamic Aspic. Personally, arugula is one of my favorite greens to use in a salad because of its smaller, more manageable leaves and its interesting peppery mustard flavor, so I was pleased to see that this was the main salad. The strong flavor profile was well balanced by the heavy, creamy brie and sweet aspic. The salad was best eaten with every component on a single bite because the aspic itself was a bit overwhelming due to its gelatinous texture.
The fourth course was a lemon lavender sorbet. The concept of a palate cleanser is very interesting and honestly gives your taste buds a break from the layers of flavors that have been piled on, leaving you ready for the star; the main course. Lavender is a newer flavor that has been introduced to sorbet but is very interesting and pairs extremely well with lemon.
For the main course we were presented Polenta Dusted Black Grouper with bacon wrapped haricot vets, lobster citrus risotto and Ohio Proud Apple Cider Sage Beurre Blanc. Sitting on top, the grouper was cooked to perfection, both moist and flaky. The breading was light and crispy but made the fish a bit heartier, adding to the Scottish tradition of the Inn. It was placed delicately a bed of green beans, which were very nicely seasoned with a fresh crunch. Beneath the beans was the lobster citrus risotto, giving the dish even more depth and flavor. Combining two seafoods in one dish was an interesting concept and played off quite well. The rice was cooked al dente and the flavor of the lobster was nicely matched with the notes of citrus found throughout the risotto. I found the sauce actually somewhat tangy for the sweet flavor of the apple, which contrasted well against the mild, delicate flavor of the grouper. Every part of the dish, when put together harmonized perfectly, to create a complex yet filling and hearty meal.
The dessert was a flourless chocolate cake crusted with a layer of crushed pistachios, a dollop of sweet cream, rainier cherries, cherry sauce and a chocolate garnish. The presentation of this dessert was absolutely beautiful. The rich dark browns of the chocolate popping against the bright red cherries made a stunning composition. The chocolate cake was somewhat dense due to the fact that it was flourless but boasted an intensified chocolate flavor that I haven’t seen in most cakes. The crushed pistachios added the right amount of crunch to the smooth, fudgey cake. The cherries were dried but surprisingly still chewy and bursting with flavor. The sauce was the perfect addition to the dish, helping to bring all the components together.
Overall, my visit to Glenlaurel was exactly what I imagined and more. Filled with hospitality, rich traditions and great company, it was a pleasure to spend an evening there.
All photos by Lillian Dent.
Disclaimer / Editor’s Note: Columbus Underground was invited to participate in the Comfort Food, Crystal Caves & Moonshine Media Tour in the Hocking Hills area in January 2016, and utilized the opportunity to send photography intern Lillian Dent on a multi-day photo shoot experience to hone her skills as a writer and a photographer. Food and lodging was provided to her free of charge as a part of the media tour event.