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Executive chef Adam LaFave’s menus feature French cuisine with a twist.
LaFave recently launched his spring-summer menu and two of his favorite courses on his new menu happen to both be appetizers.
“The French Manor is an atmosphere where you can come in and enjoy the food. Even when you’re coming up the driveway, it feels like you’re in another world. ” Adam LaFave
“The first one is a foie gras torchon rolled in crushed pistachios, with Brulee peaches and a sweet wine gelee finished with a shallot jam. The second is escargot with beef bone marrow, roasted garlic brioche crostini, grilled oyster mushroom, parsley, lemon powder, onion marmalade and finished with a fig and port wine reduction,” said LaFave.
If your mouth is watering at the thought of decadent French cuisine, read on.
Anyone with a hankering for succulent beef will delight in Chef LaFave’s aged NY strip steak rubbed with a black trumpet mushroom powder and accompanied by a crispy potato rose, sautéed Swiss chard and finished with maître d’ butter as an entree. A roasted Cornish game hen dish accompanied by mushrooms, Boursin Polenta and Glace de Poulet is another addition to the menu.
What’s his first step when he’s planning a new menu?
Months before, he said, “The first thing I think of when I create a dish is to highlight. If I use halibut, I think about what works well with halibut. I love truffle risotto and I think that compliments the dish. The richness from the risotto and the mushrooms cut well with the little bit of acidity from the Blood Orange Beurre Blanc.”
“Experimenting is definitely fun. I get smaller amounts of ingredients and experiment with them. If I like how it goes together, I’ll feature it.”
LaFave crafted his French cuisine inspired spring-summer menu with lighter flavors and seasonal vegetables and whenever possible, he supports local growers.
“Currently, we are buying oyster mushrooms from a local grower,” LaFave explained.
Herbs grown on the premises will be cut daily and used to flavor and accentuate his dishes.
LaFave began his career at The French Manor as a dishwasher when he was 16-years-old. After two years, he was allowed to do kitchen prep work and soon realized his affinity for the culinary arts.
“I worked with the chef for a while and I went to Marywood University for criminal justice,” he said. “I worked here cooking full time for a year and enrolled in Johnson & Wales culinary arts program in Providence, RI.”
After graduation, he was a chef at several local restaurants before finding his way back to The French Manor. One of the things he loves most about his work at the manor is the laid-back atmosphere.
“It’s not as fast-paced as some restaurants, so there’s more time for making sure the plate looks really appealing and adding more components. We don’t have to hurry to get the food out. I like the artistic side and that’s a lot of fun for me.”
If you’re in a quandary about what to order, chances are the staff has sampled each item and is eager to answer any questions about ingredients used. Feel free to ask your server for his recommendations.
“The staff will come in two hours earlier than they regularly do to go over the new menu. I explain everything and go back and cook one or two of each dishes so they can try them,” LaFave said.
Even the least adventurous diner will find a palate-pleasing selection because there’s literally something for everyone: meat, poultry, fish, seafood and vegan and vegetarian dishes. Be sure to let the staff know if you have food allergies or restrictions and LaFave said he’ll come up with a dish based on your dietary needs.
“After you get to the point where you know how to make food taste great, then it’s really fun to experiment and you can do different plating designs to enhance the appearance. We try to find a balance. I try to accommodate everyone.”
Breakfast and dinner are served daily in the historic dining room and Hanna’s Cafe. Visit thefrenchmanor.com/dining for more information.
The French Manor Inn and Spa is an enchanting full-service, family-owned inn modeled after a chateau in the north of France.
I enjoyed a memorable overnight stay at the inn two months ago and had an opportunity to experience a full course meal prepared by Chef Adam.
On a late winter evening in February, I was seated in a comfortable upholstered chair listening to Frank Sinatra tunes by the fireplace as my server delivered each course of this outrageously delicious meal to me.
Sliced strawberry with feta cheese, candied orange, micro greens, and finished with a 30-year aged balsamic vinegar
red beet salad with feta, candied pecans, orange supreme, pickled shallots, candied orange slice, and spring mixed tossed in a ginger-citrus vinaigrette
pan seared halibut accompanied with truffle risotto, sautéed black trumpet mushrooms, and shaved truffles finished with a blood orange Beurre blanc
I recommend this destination based on my experience and not because my visit was comped. My opinions are my own.