Both Thomas Henkelmann Restaurant and Homestead Inn are both Fred Bollaci Enterprises Preferred Destinations and is a Fred Bollaci Favorite Restaurant to be featured in the upcoming memoir. The restaurant is located inside the inn, which has a handful of beautifully-appointed guest rooms and suites. Be sure to book well in advance, I suggest dinner and at least overnight, or even better, spend the weekend!
The historic and absolutely lovely Homestead Inn in the heart of exclusive Greenwich, CT was purchased in 1997 by Thomas and wife Theresa Henkelmann, both gracious and charming hosts, who lovingly and tastefully restored and boldly redecorated, bringing a touch of European flair and elegance to the lovely property. The inn feels like the perfect combination of a French country estate, a historic New England manor home, and a five- star luxury hotel, complete with beautifully manicured gardens, fountains, artwork, and gorgeous flowers and specimen trees. As someone who enjoys art and design, the unabashed use of color indoors is most striking, as is the beautiful artwork and whimsical elements (monkey wall sconces), blending the Old World with the new, resulting in a perfectly harmonious, relaxing, refined, elegant, yet charming locale you just may never want to leave. Warm and hip, chic and sumptuous; the rooms and suites are elegant and comfortable, classic and timeless.
Homestead Inn and Thomas Henkelmann restaurant have long been considered one the country’s finest dining and lodging destinations, located within an hour of Midtown Manhattan in the prestigious Belle Haven peninsula of Greenwich, Connecticut, surrounded by majestic estate homes, towering trees, just blocks from Greenwich Harbor and several minutes drive to the center of town, a shopper’s paradise. The inn is majestically situated on nearly three lushly manicured acres. The owners sum it up perfectly: “this timeless architectural masterpiece with a luxury hotel and world renowned French restaurant Thomas Henkelmann is an impressive modern showcase of elegance, warmth, and sophistication.” This unique property epitomizes the best by blending attention to even the most minute details with timeless elegance and tradition, offering superb modern amenities, very comfortable bedding, Bvlgari bath products (my favorite), lovely antique furniture, Christofle silverware, whimsical, yet tasteful artwork from around the world, and complimentary Wi-Fi. The staff is refined, cordial, and accommodating, anticipating your every need and catering to your every whim. This is truly a gourmand’s dream weekend getaway, “La Dolce Vita” right in Connecticut.
Born in Germany’s Black Forest near the border of Alsace, France, Thomas Henkelmann began training in his family’s restaurant Zum Zacher at an early age. He continued working for three years in the kitchen at the esteemed Trescher Schwarzwaldhotel in the Black Forest on Lake Titisee and then to the world-renowned Hotel Le Richemond in Geneva and a year-and-a-half in Paris. Chef Henkelmann can thank his mother, who urged him to hitch a ride with a family friend to Illhauesern in Alsace to the famed three-star Michelin rated Auberge de l’Ill in search of employment. With no appointment he went apply for a position at the esteemed restaurant, owned by the Haeberlin brothers. As luck would have it, the restaurant was closed and he was without transportation. Thomas knocked on the kitchen door hoping to use the phone. Chef Paul Haeberlin answered the door, the two struck up a conversation, and Thomas Henckelmann had a job and what would be the most pivotal relationship in his career, setting the stage for great things to come. Following his training with Haeberlin, he became Patissier and Poissonier at the three-star Michelin Aubergine in Munich under Chef of the Century Eckart Witzigmann (Gault Milleau). He completed his Chef’s Master’s Degree before moving to New York City in 1989 as Executive Chef of the restaurant Maurice at Le Parker Meridien and later at La Panetière in Rye, NY. Thomas Henkelmann is a recipient of the coveted titles: Relais & Châteaux— Grand Chef, Tradition et Qualite — Les Grandes Tables du Monde and has received a 4 star rating by the New York Times.
Chef Henkelmann offers contemporary French cuisine, seasonal specialties and many signatures dishes for which he has become famous. Something this gourmand loves: the food looks as fabulous as it tastes! Chef Henkelmann literally creates a masterpiece with every plate that leaves the kitchen. For one who believes that first impressions are everything, my first impression of every experience I enjoyed during my weekend sojourn at Homestead Inn, as well as two breakfasts and one extraordinary dinner at Thomas Henkelmann was excellent, (from the gorgeous gardens bursting with color, so lovingly tended to the gorgeous displays of food that came to the table, which looked like they belonged in a museum) and every taste and every minute of my stay proved me to be correct. Chef Henkelmann calls his philosophy of creating edible art gemütlichkeit. The French call it “l’art de la table.” I call it a winner and one of the best all-around dining and lodging experiences I’ve had in a long time!
One of the most enjoyable, delectable dishes I have ever sampled, the Veal Sweetbreads, kissed in the pan until just delicately crispy on the outside, succulent inside is a specialty in a restaurant where everything is special.
The amazing Cannelloni with Crabmeat and a dollop of Caviar! Chef Henkelmann was kind enough to allow me to share his recipe for this fantastic dish on my website for your home enjoyment! (Recipe below)
Thomas Henkelmann’s Maryland Crabmeat Cannelloni with Leeks and Saffron Scented Sauce (Serves 8) Ingredients: 1 lb. jumbo lump crabmeat 100 gr. Diced and blanched leeks 100 mg. light Béchamel sauce made with 1/3 fish stock and 2/3 heavy cream 20 gr. Tarragon leaves, finely diced 8 pasta sheets 10×15 cm cooked al dente and dried off 8 twigs of tarragon and some nicely diced tomato for the garnish 200 ml lobster stock flavored with tarragon and saffron 80 gr. Butter mixed into the lobster stock 50 gr. Parmesan Reggiano cheese, grated 300 gr. Spinach Directions:
- Mix the crabmeat with the still warm Béchamel sauce, the leeks and tarragon. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne
- Place 1/8th of the crabmeat mixture on each pasta sheet and roll a tight cannelloni
- Place the cannelloni next to each other in an oven-proof deep dish. Pour a mixture of half cream and half water into the bottom of the dish
- Place the Cannelloni in a pre-heated 400° F oven and bake for approx. 10-15 minutes until top of Cannelloni is light golden brown
- Sauté the leaf spinach in butter seasoned with salt and pepper and place in the center of a warm serving dish
- Place the Cannelloni atop the spinach. Garnish with a tarragon twig and some diced tomato. Carefully spoon the saffron scented lobster jus around it.
Variation: Cannelloni can be prepared with a Crépe in lieu of pasta Note: recipe can be lightened for home preparation/weight loss by slightly reducing the amount of butter and using whole milk instead of cream when making the béchamel (standard recipes for béchamel can be found online).
Thomas Henkelmann is a member of internationally esteemed Relais & Chateaux and of Les Grandes Tables du Monde, and is considered the top restaurant in the state of Connecticut. The food is absolutely sublime. It begins with the freshest, highest quality ingredients, flawlessly executed, resulting in dishes that make you want to dance in your seat!
Homestead sommelier Pierre Grall is extremely approachable, and a valuable resource–whatever your wine budget, you are sure to be turned onto something great. I enjoyed a white burgundy (chardonnay), an outstanding 2009 Mersault-Perrier, premier cru, Pierre Matrot with dinner.