“Eat, Drink and be Enlightened”- that is the motto of the Roycroft Inn, and they couldn’t be more right.
With a party of eight our journey began; stepping back in time to 1905. Walking through the gigantic oak doors the first thing that smacks you in the face is the smell of yesteryear; that antique wood grained musty aroma of years gone by, and the beautiful gas fire from the century’s old fireplace. As your eye is drawn upwards you take in all the nuances that make the Roycroft Inn so special. The large oak beams that trace every ceiling, the mosaic tile and stained glassed windows, Tiffany lanterns and craftsman chairs that dance around the fireplace; all of these eclectic pieces are what make the Roycroft Inn unique.
It began with Elbert Hubbard; a man of vision- a man of taste- a man of style. Having founded the arts and crafts movement for the Western NY area, he embarked on a vision that would eventually become the Roycroft campus; a center for creativity and learning of arts and crafts. When the Roycroft Inn was established it became the epi-center for the East Aurora community; allowing visitors and locals to traverse its halls and gaze upon its timely beauty.
Making our way to the ornate cozy bar (AKA teeny tiny), we took a gander at the wine selection. After locating several bottles that sounded superbly delicious; we left it up to our classy bartender to choose for us. His selection couldn’t have been more perfect; handing us a beautiful bouquet that included scents of rosemary, cedar and chocolate. We took our bottles and sat by the roaring fire while we waited on the rest of our party.
The dining rooms at the Roycroft are separated into four distinctly different areas. All telling a story; welcoming you in, making you laugh; indulging your senses in food, wine and atmosphere. Seeing as how this restaurant choice was my doing, I decided too start our group off with some apps: Truffle chips drizzled in white truffle oil and complimented with smoked Gorgonzola cheese ($ 10.00), Butternut Squash Gnocchi with brown butter and fresh sage ($10.00), and Crab Cakes with roasted sweet corn and Chipotle anoli ($11.00). Let me preface what I’m about to say with this: the food here is exceptionally good! If your looking for a great appetizer, you need to try the truffle chips. Not only can a digestive sensitive person eat these (the cheese comes on the side,) but the taste and flavor on these chips is decadent and other worldly. Trust me you will be dreaming about these chips once you’ve had them.
Now I do have to say that I was slightly disappointed in two of the appetizers. The crab cakes were not as meaty and fresh as I would have liked, and were heavily breaded; taking away from what you really order them for- the crab meat. The butternut squash gnocchi was more than disappointing. Not only did it severely lack in flavor but the dough had clearly been sitting around, making the edges firm and taking away from the chewy starchy goodness that is gnocchi. While the sage would have been a beautiful compliment to the butternut squash, it wasn’t due to the lack of butternut squash flavor to begin with. I do not say this lightly- but as someone who learned to make gnocchi at the same time as learning to ride a bike, I dare say I know thing or two about gnocchi.
With that said the rest of our meal was truly a heavenly experience. The Maple Glazed Atlantic Salmon ($22.00) was pretty in pink and perfect. The glaze just lightly coated the salmon, giving it a glossy finish and a woodsy fall flavor. Paired with sweet potato and artichoke au gratin, this dish is truly the best example of fall foods. The stuffed Fillet of Sole ($21.00) with spinach, roasted red pepper and a creamy Mournay sauce was moist, fresh and flaky; falling apart as it slowly disintegrates on your tongue. A classic combination of flavors, the Fillet of Beef Tenderloin ($28.00) lived up to its reputation. Medium rare and packing a punch with crushed black pepper; the juiciness of this tenderloin is something to savor.
Ingredients have to tell a story, and the ingredients used for our main entrees certainly did that! With terrific service and many bottles of wine later, our bellies did the talking for us. Happy, content, and dreaming of the next meal we would have at this rustic arts and crafts lodge….. you get the feeling that Elbert Hubbard is still around; overseeing the amazing creation that he started.