The Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa has now been open for a few months. The structure that was once perpetually surrounded by cranes and other heavy equipment, requiring any who entered it to wear a hard hat, has become the new darling of Seven Mile Beach.
The ballroom has already seen a lot of foot traffic and excited residents have Tweeted, Facebooked, Snapchatted and Instagrammed their staycation images to challenge the Trump-dominated social media landscape.
It was only last Saturday when I finally had the chance to sit down and try a meal at the Kimpton. My November and December had been crammed full of social obligations, followed by a cruise in January that rendered me unable to consume one more morsel of food or drop of alcohol for quite some time.
After a couple of weeks of returning to a normal eating pattern, I was ready to go! My usual dining companion, and best friend, Lynne Firth, agreed to accompany me for a night at the Chef’s Counter – a unique culinary experience nestled inside Avecita, which in turn is nestled inside Ave, the resort’s main restaurant. It’s like Russian dolls for foodies.
The Chef’s Counter can accommodate up to 10 diners, offering a personalized encounter with the chefs and mixologists in the open kitchen. You can see the food being prepped and cooked before you, as you are entertained by servers who make sure your glass is kept full at all times.
On the night we dined, we were seated next to a couple who had just arrived on the island from Boston. They were hoping their beloved Patriots would win the Super Bowl the next day. Apparently that hope was not in vain.
The tasting menu featured seven courses with suggested beverage pairings for an additional cost. We decided to go the whole hog in the spirit of research.
Dale Sharein, our server for the night, introduced himself and chatted about what we could expect from the evening. He then brought over Chef Remy Lefebvre, a man with an impressive resume who has worked in fine restaurants all over the world. We promptly interrogated him about his background.
Right off the bat, we were presented with a surprise amuse-bouche. So this was how they were going to play it. Okay, we were ready!
Over the course of a wonderful evening, we discovered taste buds we never knew we had. Was it the Wagyu beef short rib, slow cooked over 18 hours to give it an unbelievable texture, or the queen snapper that had us at “hello”? Perhaps it was the fava beans that we found unforgettable, or the salmon roe with seaweed tagliolini … we couldn’t decide.
Truly, the food was fantastic and unexpected, paired with some well-chosen wines. A standout creation from alchemist Juan Martinez was The Bull – the only cocktail pairing of the night. Fashioned from dark rum, homemade vermouth, chai tea, Grand Marnier and smoked bitters, it was absolutely delicious. The four of couldn’t get enough of it.
Any thoughts of attempting to make it at home flew out the window, as we took in the sight of glass beakers, tubes and other paraphernalia that brought back memories of high school chemistry.
When you go to the Kimpton, seek out Martinez and beg for The Bull.
Claudia Barrovecchio, pastry chef at Avecita, produced the first of two sweet endings: A smoked eggplant bonbon with white chocolate. Yes, I said it: eggplant. Who knew it would lend itself so perfectly to the world of confectionery?
This was followed by a burnt milk panna cotta with grapefruit and saffron ice cream. Absolutely wonderful.
Beyond the extraordinary degustation we had just enjoyed over a couple of hours, one of the joys of sitting at the Chef’s Counter is the intimacy of the event. You feel like an engaged participant in your own meal. It is an invitation to a gastronome’s home where you are treated like an old friend.
By the end of the night, we were already thinking of a list of people who we knew would appreciate such a culinary journey. Our neighbors from Boston were planning to make another reservation for three days hence.
As I mentioned earlier, it took me a while to get around to tasting the delights that the Kimpton had to offer. It was definitely worth the wait.