An insider's view of the Connecticut dining scene
Oct 2, 2014
07:49 AMThe Connecticut Table
Foxwoods Sets Stags' Leap Wine Dinner Oct. 23; Caymus Event Was Great
Douglas P. Clement/Connecticut Magazine
Through a glass happily: The scene at the Caymus Vineyards wine dinner at Paragon June 5, as seen through a glass of pinot noir.
Also see our recent story Eating Our Way Through Foxwoods Casino’s Best Restaurants (Again)
Paragon at Foxwoods Resort Casino is hosting a unique opportunity for guests to experience one of Napa Valley’s finest winemaking estates. On Thursday, October 23rd, the award-winning AAA Four Diamond restaurant will present an exquisite wine dinner featuring an exclusive selection of whites and reds by Stags’ Leap Winery of Napa, California. This luxurious 5-course food and wine experience begins at 6:00 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres of farrow “stew,” house smoked salmon, shredded shrimp & green olive tapenade, and latke with caviar, paired with Sauvignon Blanc 2013, followed by Gulf of Maine Bluefin with cold curry yogurt, salty noodle, and sour salad, paired with Chardonnay 2013 ‘Hands of Time.’
Right, the current lobster dish at Paragon, in a photo from the restaurant's Facebook page.
Guests will enjoy Chef de Cuisine Scott Mickelson’s creative dishes expertly prepared using the freshest locally grown ingredients. The second course on the menu features Shannock Hill lamb tartare with warm rosemary aioli, salted turnip chips, and two-hour cucumber, paired with Merlot 2009, and the third course offers a wonderful cassoulet with viandes vari, offal and white beans, paired with Cabernet 2011 ‘Artemis.’
The fourth course of the evening features Archer Angus grass fed beef brisket cooked low and slow with truffled celeriac and rocket greens paired with Cabernet 2011 ‘Fay.’ The evening concludes with a Connecticut macintosh terrine with chestnut compote, crème fraîche and cranberry mostarda, paired with Vinsanto 2009 ‘Antinori.’
The Stags’ Leap Wine Dinner at Foxwoods’ Paragon Restaurant is $145/person. Reservations are required and may be made by calling 800.369.9663 or 800-442.1000.
See our original story below about Paragon's Caymus Vineyards wine dinner.
Located on the 24th floor of the Grand Pequot Tower, with a wall of windows offering commanding views out over the countryside, Paragon is Foxwoods Resort Casino’s premier restaurant—the pinnacle of the fine dining experience that includes other venues such as Al Dente and David Burke Prime.
Honored for Best French Dining by the readers of Connecticut Magazine in 2012, Paragon has been awarded the AAA Four Diamond Award of Excellence for 10 years, making it just one of seven restaurants statewide with that longstanding acclaim.
The setting is serene and festive at the same time—in the luxe bar, cozy lounge or spacious dining room stretching out toward the high windows—the charming and talented Jack E. Madry soothes the experience of guests from behind the grand piano, and Chef de Cuisine Scott Mickelson falls into the talent bracket that has the James Beard Foundation team up with him on special events.
His menu includes things like native shellfish and lobster bisque, which warm up the path to classics like steak frites, with Piedmontese sirloin, Boeuf Bourguignon and Stonington lobster. Everything is based on the most prime ingredients; the sirloin entrée is Japanese A-5 Wagyu, the scallops are Bomster—referring to the southeastern Connecticut family that farms them—the veal is New England grass-fed and humanely-raised “Rose” veal, the rib-eye is Archer Angus grass-fed, the mushrooms are wild-foraged, and the cod is Icelandic.
You get the idea. One thing the approach and details add up to is that it makes sense for Paragon to be the venue for the loftiest dinners among the wine and chef’s table events on the calendar at Foxwoods’ restaurants.
The wines were amazing and Mickelson’s dishes were fabulous—and here’s the thing: The cost of the dinner was $110 per person, before tax and gratuity, but it feels like the wines that were generously poured, and the passed hors d’ouevres and five courses of gourmet dishes, easily exceed that tariff in terms of value and satisfaction.
And that equation makes these dinners a relative bargain at the same time they’re exclusive and top-shelf. (If you want to check the math, try researching how much the 90-point-plus Caymus wines would cost in restaurants that sell them by the glass, and consider that some guests effectively had more than one glass of some of the wines.)
But that’s hardly the best reason to discover and attend future wine dinners at Paragon. The primary temptation is purely hedonistic; the flavors and gratification would claim a 98 to 100 rating on a wine-scoring scale.
The Caymus Vineyards dinner opened with guests mingling in the bar and lounge areas as they enjoyed 2012 Conundrum with a quartet of passed hors d’oeuvres: Crisp (and nicely spicy) goat meatballs; aged Serrano ham-and-pumpernickel “fondue”; savory stuffed Medjoul dates, and grass-fed beef sliders.
The appetizers and the Conundrum just kept coming, and it felt like the perfect small-bites meal of its own. As for the Conundrum, it’s a blend of different varietals that produces a rich, complex and slightly spicy wine that marries well with many different types of food or is delicious just on its own.
Once guests were seated, the more formal dinner rolled out in relaxed style, punctuated by commentary about each wine from Dan Campbell, who handles the New England region for the Wagner Family of Wine, the parent entity of Caymus.
He watched guests react as the 2012 Mer Soleil ‘Silver’ unoaked Chardonnay was poured from a ceramic bottle to accompany a fresh, rich, subtle, beautiful Peekytoe Crab (right) with a sesame pretzel, avocado, grapefruit and rocket greens. The wine was crisp, pretty and engaging, and the bottle is meant as a nod to the cement vessel fermentation of the wine.
Caymus is legendary for its amazing Cabernet—considered one of the best in the U.S.—and because of that expertise and legacy, Campbell says, it’s also known for crafting “Cab drinkers’ Pinot Noirs.”
The 2012 Meiomi Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands), served with Archer Angus Marrow and garlic chips (close-up, left), beautifully balances its dark fruit and lingering complexity—but in this case it turned out to be the stage-setter for the encore act to come next.
With Columbia River King Salmon “Hash”, made with earthy and delicious root vegetable-lardon hash and accented by truffled chèvre, came the 2012 Belle Glos “Las Alturas” Pinot Noir (Santa Lucia Highlands).
Pinots love cool climates, Campbell explained, and this single-vineyard example is grown in the most perfect California environment for Pinots. While the Cabernet that came next is a Caymus home run, the Belle Glos (Wine Spectator, 92 points) tasted like the best wine on the table; harmonious dark fruit, sophistication, depth, concentration, long to finish and enrobing all of that was a beautiful elegance. And it was a smash with the King Salmon hash.
It was the 2011 Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet (92 points Wine Spectator, 90 points Robert Parker) that stood up to the Moroccan Spiced Imperial Wagyu Flank Steak (left), and stood up well. Caymus Cabs are known for being ripe and voluptuous, with even a hint of sweetness, and Campbell says credibly that the Caymus regular bottling would be anyone else’s reserve (so imagine what the Caymus Special Selection Cabernet tastes like.)
The evening finished with Fromage Blanc Vacherin with farmer’s strawberry, licorice, and rhubarb, paired with a very limited 2006 Mer Soleil Late Harvest Viognier. It’s a dessert wine with hints of apricot, honey and citrus fruits, and it was sweet-kiss of a way to end the evening.
Anyone put off about accessing Foxwoods’ wine dinners without connecting with the casino and gaming aspect should put the fear aside. For Paragon events and Al Dente chef’s table dinners, you simply park for free in the Grand Pequot Tower garage and take the elevator up. Easy in, easy out.
Foxwoods Sets Stags' Leap Wine Dinner Oct. 23; Caymus Event Was Great