I have to begin with a disclaimer--my wife Carrie and I have never actually stayed at the Blair Hill Inn. We own a vacation home 45 miles away and, three or four times a summer, drive 45 miles each way for the sole purpose of feasting at the Blair Hill Inn. I can't think of many places that would draw us to do that. And we've been doing it since Ruth and Dan McLaughlin bought the place 14 years ago and opened it as a premier restaurant and B&B. It has done nothing but improve since then as the McLaughlins have poured themselves into the refurbishment of this grand 19th century mansion, producing a restoration that is truly exquisite in every detail.
We always arrive half an hour early in order to have a drink on the porch and enjoy the best view in Northern Maine, which on a clear evening stretches a good 50-75 miles in a 180-degree arc that includes countless mountains, the endless North Woods, the incomparable Moosehead Lake, and sunsets that most people can only dream of. Ruth and Dan go out of their way to greet their guests, and not just those like us whom they've known for years. Within minutes, you feel more like you're at a house party than a restaurant.
The prix fixe menu is always both ingenious and simple: a choice of two or three appetizers, soup, salad, three entrees, and two desserts. Either during cocktails or just before the meal, there's usually an amusee to stimulate the palate--perhaps an escargot in a puff pastry, or a tiny quiche. (Although Carrie and I lived for two years in Paris, we'd never heard of "amusees" until BHI.)
While we have traveled all over the globe and eaten in some of the world's top-rated restaurants, Carrie and I have never been more thoroughly rewarded by a meal than at the Blair Hill Inn--and it's happened every time we've eaten there. It is that perfect cuisine experience in which flavors have been combined in an inventive yet subtle way that produces a flavor you've never quite tasted before, a perfect amalgam of nevertheless independently distinguishable tastes. (Carrie always hangs onto the menu so that she can go back and see what she's eating, because the combinations are always so fascinating and unique.) So often when restaurants strive for uniqueness, they stray so far off the beaten path that you have trouble finding something you like; that's never happened to us at the Blair Hill Inn. In fact, what usually makes it hard to choose is that we want it all. See for yourself--there's a sample menu on the website. We have been consistently astonished at the quality, and I wish I knew how they do it, especially since the chef has changed several times since Dan did the cooking himself that first summer. Yet the quality has done nothing but improve, and the current chef, Jonathan Cox, a Culinary Institute alumnus who arrived last spring, is the best yet. His roast corn soup with a dollop of Maine crab is quite simply the best soup I've ever eaten.
The prix fixe is $59, but with a cocktail, wine, and tip, it's more like $100. Even at that, though, it's a bargain. As I write this review, salivating from our year-round home 135 miles from Greenville, part of me is ready to hop in the car and drive a mere 2-1/2 hours each way. Of course, we could stay there....
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- "Arugably the finest inn of inland Maine (and possibly the entire state)" Travel & Leisure Magazine. Here is a refreshingly distinctive inn that thrills the most discriminating traveler. Few places possess such dramatic landscape and magnitude of lake and mountain views. With sparkling views at every turn, the inn's fresh and stylish elegance delights guests from all over the world. Sumptuous cuisine and truly warm service await your visit. Blair Hill Inn - genuine, refined and welcoming. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Blair Hill Hotel Greenville
- Blair Hill Inn Greenville, Maine