During a late January weekend trip to western Pennsylvania’s Nemacolin, my husband and I took a leap of faith. Lautrec, one of several on-site restaurants at the resort, offers a truly unique dining experience. Executive chef Kristin Butterworth’s Leap of Faith menu begins with a wax-sealed envelope and quill pen and ink set on the table. We ceremoniously opened the letter, which featured a welcome from Butterworth and a page with icons depicting different possible menu items. Patrons can circle or highlight the ingredients they like and cross out any items they are not interested in consuming. From there, Butterworth and her team create a seven-course menu for diners. Options are available for sommelier pairings, Champagne pairings and foie gras/truffle additions.
We chose to add wine pairings with each course, and, after our exceptional server took our circled selections back to the kitchen, our experience began. This meal was unlike any we’d previously enjoyed, and we took a true leap of faith, opening our minds and taste buds to whatever came our way. Even the bread course was beautifully presented, and the warm croissant was delicious. Our first course was a beet panna cotta, with crispy beet greens. The panna cotta was fashioned into a replica of the vegetable, and the resemblance was uncanny. Next up, sweet potato dumplings (similar to a gnocchi), served almost as a twice-baked potato in the skin. We were both slightly confused when the next course arrived in an ashtray with what appeared to be ash in the bottom. This course was a venison tartare cigar. It’s all in the presentation here — it’s a visual journey as much as a culinary one.
Before each course the sommelier came over to pour our next paired wine and explain its origin, profile and age. I enjoyed all the wines — even the sweeter port wine that ended the meal — and each paired well.
My favorite course came next — a delicious scallop-filled dumpling that melted on the tongue. A perfectly cooked, medium-rare Wagyu beef dish was next, so tender it also melted in the mouth. I was trying to eat smartly, so I could enjoy some of each course without becoming too full; however, the portions are appropriately sized for the number of courses. Cheese, honey and Marcona almonds featured in our next course. Almost like a cheese mousse, the nutty saltiness was a nice complement, and this naturally led us into the final course: a gorgeous candy cart wheeled table-side. We picked a few sweets to finish our meal, happily sated.
Overall, it was a magical night. We dressed up in a cocktail dress and suit, which felt especially nice in the midst of the pandemic, and allowed ourselves to enjoy an indulgent culinary masterpiece that expanded our taste buds.
1001 Lafayette Dr.
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tel 866 344 6957
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