Cuisine: This ambitious newcomer, taking up residence in an old inn in off-the-beaten-track Clifton, has emerged as a home of elegant rusticity. The secret’s in the sauces—ethereal reductions, froths, and marmalades drizzled or dolloped so judiciously that they never overwhelm. Even braised veal with root vegetables and vermouth cream isn’t as weighty as it sounds—its tiny pool of cream is almost like a condiment. The lineup of talent is formidable: Chef Clayton Miller came to Clifton after stints at the French Laundry in Napa Valley and Daniel in Manhattan; co-owner Stefan Trummer, who has shaken and stirred at New York’s Bouley, doubles as cocktail master; Tyler Packwood, late of the Inn at Little Washington, is sommelier; Chris Ford, from ChikaLicious Dessert Bar in New York, is pastry chef.
Mood: Few traces of the old Hermitage Inn remain in the airy main dining room, where French windows overlook a flagstone waterfall and garden and palm-frond fans twirl from the high ceiling. Service is formal enough that a table of four, six, or eight will all get its plates at precisely the same moment.
Best for: A convivial meal with friends, a romantic repast, or a celebratory dinner for a group (there’s a big communal table in the center of the main dining room). A mostly over-30 crowd gathers in the first floor bar/lounge on weekends.
Best dishes: The house Titanic 13 cocktail, with grape vodka, muddled grapes, and Champagne sorbet floating on top; flour-dusted ciabatta; a fresh take on pumpkin soup with sweet lump crab, salty bay-leaf crumble, and frothy pumpkin foam; frisée with mild curry vinaigrette and celery three ways (puréed, shaved, and steamed); vermouth-braised veal with rutabaga and vermouth cream; flaky Nantucket flounder with Yukon Gold purée; chocolate cream, a painterly swipe of lush chocolate pudding with hazelnut sorbet and crunchy cocoa nibs.
Insider tips: The wait between starters and main courses can be long. Request a table in the Winter Garden; the third-floor dining rooms aren’t as charming.
Open Monday through Saturday for dinner, Sunday for brunch; bar/lounge open until midnight. Expensive.