Culinary Perfection at New Canaan’s Colonial Getaway
Off the Merritt Parkway in New Canaan, deeply rooted in New England with global influences, awaits a unique experience at the Roger Sherman Inn. This historic inn and gathering place is the backdrop to Chef Francois Kwaku-Dongo’s seasonally inspired cuisine.
After a quick ride from NYC, I pause to take a seat on a bench beneath the pink petals of a tree in bloom, taking in the inviting air of the property. Originally built as a private home in the 1700s, the Roger Sherman Inn has retained an intimate and personal feel while embracing sophistication as a Fairfield County inn and restaurant destination. Rich with historical significance, this iconic landmark has a following of local residents that have shown great loyalty and support. However, new owners as well as the new executive chef have brought great promise.
It’s easy to see why the community has rallied around this colonial gem. After checkin, a corner room welcomes an overnight stay that is bright, spacious, and filled with a freshness so often amiss in older inns. Attention to detail is evident immediately: the room is impeccably clean and well-maintained, and elegant decorations hint at the history of the inn. There are seventeen beautifully appointed guest rooms all charming and transporting, with the added convenience of modern day amenities, private bath, cable TV, WiFi, mini bar, and AC.
The stunning setting of the historic Roger Sherman Inn is the backdrop for the seasonally-inspired menu showcasing fresh, locally-procured ingredients is a culinary tour of New England, with coastal seafood, local family farms, and talented artisans. Using East Coast ingredients as the foundation for quality and flavor, Chef Kwaku-Dongo applies techniques he has honed in some of the most demanding kitchens in the country, most notably while acting as Executive Chef at famed Chef Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in West Hollywood and Chicago.
Chef Kwaku-Dongo is creating his own iconic restaurant following in Fairfield County, at the Roger Sherman Inn, which boasts multiple dining rooms, al fresco dining options, and a beautiful landscape for any milestone celebration and intimate gatherings.
On the wrap around porch, I join a small evening crowd and watch the sun retreat across the lawn, enjoying a board of local cheeses and strawberries and a well paired wine. Glass in hand, I explore the premises on the veranda outside the main dining room. Wonderfully set, this space offers a perfect outdoor evening perch with a string of lights laced above the side patio that shine like fireflies beckon summertime rendezvous.
Heading inside for dinner, I’m excited to see a menu as enchanting as the property. Classic dishes are infused with creativity, and an emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients promises to deliver a decadent experience.
The Tuscan Kale salad is a sight to behold: bold dark leaves contrast with a drizzle of pink strawberry and poppyseed vinaigrette, and crumbled feta and toasted almonds complement the delicate flavor of the greens. I’m impressed with Executive Chef François Kwaku-Dongo’s adventurous take on a standard starter dish.
With specials like truffle chicken pot pie that is piercing the airy crust brimming over the edge of the pot, I savor the lightness of the cream sauce and tenderness of the chicken. I find the menu well-rounded; seafood, meat, and veggie lovers alike will be sure to find something to please any appetite and ensure a return visit.
I dig into pasta, and again I’m impressed to find a noticeable lightness to the fare. A modest tagliatelle is adorned with black truffle shavings, adding a flavorful boost to the parmesan broth. Just when I think I’ve hit capacity, the kitchen sends a surprise: another dish of parmesan broth, this time featuring plump English pea-stuffed pasta, bright and fresh and perfect for a spring evening.
For dessert the chef bring me the warm chocolate flourless cake with sea salt caramel gelato. The cake’s texture and body is as elegant as its cocoa flavor, a depth and authenticity to its sweetness the sign of a skilled master at work.
Finishing the day of travel with cocktails on the porch, there is live music at the bar and cheery local crowd gathered. Relaxing into a comfortable couch chatting with the wonderful staff from the evening, it’s clear that a dining experience at The Roger Sherman Inn can only be produced by a hardworking team of truly passionate people. With plans to expand the event spaces, build an on-premise organic garden, and consistently deliver culinary excellence, the Roger Sherman Inn will continue to charm visitors from near and far.