Restaurant Review: Summer, Winter
As unlikely as it might sound, my favorite upscale suburban restaurant is in a hotel, an extremely stereotypical suburban hotel, at that. As a general rule, I tend to avoid hotel restaurants, but, believe it or not, the restaurant at the Burlington Marriott is really something special. It’s called Summer Winter, and it is run by Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier, the creators of Arrows in Ogunguit, Maine.
These guys promote the locally sourced ingredient philosophy. You can see that in the menu and, of course, when you eat the food. Peek through the windows at the balcony that rings the dining room where you’ll see greenhouses filled with freshly growing greens and pots of tomatoes and other vegetables. While you wait for your meal to be prepared and served, it’s worth taking a stroll through the garden, weather permitting.
We don’t eat at Summer Winter frequently, but each time we do, I make a mental note not to wait too long to go back. This visit was prompted by an email promoting their Friday Night “Date Night” where they offer a three-course fixed price menu. The menu was appealing, so we made reservations.
The meal started with the largest bowl of soup I’ve ever been served in a restaurant. The word “Tremendous” comes to mine. It was butternut squash soup laced with maple syrup with a spicy chile relish, sort of like Srichacha sauce. The relish sunk to the bottom, so it provided hidden bursts of surprise heat as we ate. It was delicious, and as we’ve just entered squash season, I want to try to make something similar at home. The portion was large, and we were sort of full after the first course.
The only actual choice in the menu was for our main course. Howard picked one, I picked the other, and we traded plates for a while. He chose grilled trout with a red curry sauce and an Asian noodle salad on the side. It was a winner. I chose the braised short rib, which melted off the bone. It was served in a large bowl with the braising juices, with jasmine rice on the side. The meat was tender and tasty, though it felt awkward to be eat the meat and rice from separate dishes. I wasn’t exactly sure how I was expected to combine the parts of the meal.
Both were great meals, though I had a slight preference for Howard’s trout. Maybe it’s also because I LOVE trout, and we’ve been having a hard time finding fresh trout to cook at home. We’ve been told it isn’t a popular fish. I can’t imagine why; it’s one of my favorites.
Dessert screamed Howard’s name. It was a plate of chocolate truffles, six different flavors, for each of us. We were stuffed, so took most of them home in the little Chinese take out box they were served with. What a nice after-dinner treat on Saturday.
The Summer Winter menu also has a large section of what appear to be tapas-like “Small Bites”. One of these evenings when we want to go out, I hope I’ll remember that a few of those with a glass of wine would make a nice outing.