Restaurant Review: Le Chambord
With a recently revamped menu, the 25-year-old Le Chambord offers stand-up American Continental fare
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When Roy Benich was 18 years old, he enjoyed the finest meal of his young life at a French restaurant on 53rd Street in New York. The name of that restaurant? Le Chambord. So moved was Benich by his sublime dining experience, he resolved to one day open an elegant French restaurant of his own. “I thought, ‘If I ever open a place,’ ” he recalls, “ ‘I’m going to call it Le Chambord.’ ”
His dream came true a quarter-century ago, when Benich — who cut his culinary teeth working as a host at New York’s famed Tavern on the Green — purchased a Civil War-era estate in Hopewell Junction and opened a European-style inn with a French restaurant attached. The Valley’s Le Chambord was born.
The restaurant occupies one of several structures on the 10-acre expanse of verdant lawns and shady trees. The house was once the home of a doctor named Fowler, whose previous residence across the street had burned to the ground. Resolving never to relive that horrific experience, Fowler decided, like the fabled third pig, to build his new house out of stone. Construction materials were transported to the site by horse and buggy from the port in what is now Beacon, and masons set about work on a Georgian Colonial mansion that a modern engineer hailed as “the Rock of Gibraltar.” Fire will never claim this house.
The mansion building of Le Chambord, which houses the restaurant and a nine-room inn
In addition to the mansion (where, after dinner, you can also spend the night in one of nine sumptuously furnished rooms), the property also includes Tara Hall, a 16-room hotel; Butler Hall, a conference room; a former art gallery now used as a photography studio for wedding parties; a gorgeous stone patio; and an outdoor pavilion, covered on top but open on the sides, that calls to mind lavish parties of yesteryear — “a Great Gatsby setting,” as Benich puts it. Indeed, the antique sideboard in the main hall of the restaurant was once used on the Long Island estate of the Astor family.
With its lovely and historic mansion, its comfortable and elegant rooms, and a grand ballroom that can accommodate 300 guests — not to mention one of the best pastry chefs around in Annette Jayson, who works with brides-to-be to design perfect cakes — Le Chambord could well be one of the most magical places in the Valley to have a wedding.
I brought my wife to Le Chambord on a Wednesday evening, right after they opened for dinner. The dining room — or rather one of the dining rooms; the house is spacious, with enough tables in the various rooms to accommodate a large number of guests, if need be — looks like the East Wing of the White House. Fine oil paintings, a collection curated from artists the world over, hang proudly beneath brass lights, and objets d’arts are tastefully tucked into every corner.