Thursday, January 26, 2017

All That Jazz: Upscale Casual Dining With a Side of Sax

By Emilie-Noelle Provost

While there are many wonderful things about wintertime in New England (think ski slopes and magical snow-covered landscapes) one of the season’s drawbacks is our seemingly universal tendency to hibernate. If it’s been a while since you got out of the house, it’s time to turn off Netflix and dig your favorite date night shoes out of the closet.

On Friday February 3 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., NoLo Bistro & Bar at The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa will host an evening of superlative jazz with renowned saxophone tenor Noah Preminger and his band.

A Connecticut native, Preminger’s debut album, Dry Bridge Road, released in 2008 when he was just 21 years old, was named Debut of the Year in a Village Voice critics poll. A self-described lover of adventure, Preminger enjoys boxing and skydiving and believes, “Taking risks in life helps you take risks in art.”

Now based in Brooklyn, N.Y., Preminger has played in bands with such notable jazz artists as Cecil McBee and John McNeil and has performed on several albums released by Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records. He has been named among the nation’s best tenor saxophonists by the New York Times, Time Out New York, the Boston Globe and the Boston Phoenix. Now age 30, Preminger has performed live as bandleader on several legendary jazz stages including Scullers Jazz Club in Boston and the Metropolitan Room and Ginny’s Supper Club in New York.

Preminger released two recordings in 2016: Some Other Time, on French vinyl label Newvelle Records, and the independent release, Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground, inspired by Mississippi Delta blues. His seventh album, Meditations on Freedom, which the saxophonist’s website describes as “a musical protest against ominous political developments in America,” was released on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2017.

When you combine Preminger’s talent for jazz with Executive Chef Mark Filteau’s innovative, seasonal menu (look for wintertime favorites like NoLo Bolognese with lamb, pork and veal and papardelle pasta and New England Bouillabaisse featuring locally sourced seafood) and resident mixologist Jared Bracci’s creative cocktails it’s sure to be a special night out.

There is no cover charge for NoLo’s February 3 jazz dinner though reservations are recommended. To complete your evening with an overnight stay visit The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa’s online reservation page or call (978) 649-4400.

To listen to a preview of Preminger’s music visit

Monday, January 9, 2017

Tatiana Bobr, The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa’s Catering Sales Manager, Specializes in Making Wedding Dreams Come True

By Emilie-Noelle Provost

Maybe it’s the close proximity of family or because the season is full of joy, or perhaps it’s just that diamonds make great gifts that the holidays are one of the most popular times of year for couples to get engaged. If you were among the lucky lovebirds to give or receive an engagement ring this year, you’re probably beginning to look for just the right place to tie the knot.

Nestled among New England woodlands along the banks of the Merrimack River, The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa in Tyngsborough, Mass., offers a perfect setting for a romantic wedding weekend. Tatiana Bobr, the hotel’s catering sales manager, is an expert at helping couples plan the wedding of their dreams, whether it’s an extravagant affair for 90 or something elegant and understated.

In an industry that’s notorious for employee turnover, Bobr has been at The Stonehedge since 2011. After earning a bachelor’s degree in business management with a concentration in hospitality from Salem State University, she started working in the hotel’s dining room. Within just three months she was promoted to executive assistant to the hotel’s previous owner where much of her job involved managing catering and events. “Before long I was promoted to catering sales manager,” says Bobr. “I have been on a shift in every department in the hotel, so I know when a client asks for something whether it will work – and whether there’s a better alternative. I’ve found this can really help alleviate stress and make couples feel at home. I want to provide a personalized experience.”

To make planning easier for couples, wedding packages at The Stonehedge are comprehensive. Food for the entire event, including the rehearsal dinner, cocktail reception, wedding dinner, cake and brunch the next day, as well as the use of space, can be included. “Packages also include an overnight stay for the bride and groom the day of their wedding and dinner on the couple’s first anniversary,” Bobr says. “People really enjoy that.”

Bobr advises couples who want to get married on a specific day to begin planning as early as they can. “We only host one wedding per weekend,” she says, “so the calendar can fill up fast.” But, Bobr notes, if you can be flexible about dates it’s often possible to plan something quickly.

Because the hotel hosts just one wedding at a time, Bobr says it’s possible for her and her staff to go out of their way, if need be, to make a couple’s experience extra special.

“We once arranged for two horses to be on the property because the bride enjoyed horseback riding when she was younger,” Bobr says. “Another time I arranged for a groom to have lo mein noodles for his appetizer at the request of the bride. During the planning process he kept joking that he wanted Chinese food at their wedding. It was prepared from scratch in our kitchen by our Chinese cook, Seia. He was very surprised!”

Bobr has also helped couples plan weddings from overseas, personally handled last-minute flower mix ups and helped family members who were unable to attend weddings deliver special gifts.

“By the time a wedding weekend is over, everyone involved – the guests, the staff – feels like family,” Bobr says. “We are one big family here.”

To read Bobr’s reviews on Wedding Wire or to see photos from recent weddings at The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa visit this link. For more information about planning a wedding at The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa visit the hotel's wedding page or contact Tatiana Bobr at +1 (617) 231-6664 or

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Joy of the Holidays at The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa

By Emilie-Noelle Provost

They always seem to arrive too quickly. In the midst of decorating, shopping for gifts and attending who knows how many gatherings and parties, the holidays can sneak up on you. If you’re like me, one of the last things on your to do list is planning what you and your family will enjoy for dinner on Christmas, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day – an important job that not everyone has time for or enjoys. If you’re in need of a break in the meal planning and preparation department this holiday season, or just can’t bear the thought of fighting the crowd at the supermarket, NoLo Bistro & Bar at The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa has you covered.

Enjoy the innovative farm-to-table cuisine of Executive Chef Mark Filteau, delicious wines from Stonehedge Cellars and creative seasonal cocktails by NoLo’s resident mixologist Jared Bracci in an elegant and festive setting this holiday season with your family and friends. On Dec. 24, a prix fixe Christmas Eve plated dinner will be served from 6 to 10 p.m. On Christmas morning, skip the cooking and clean up and enjoy brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Regular a la carte dinner service will be available on Christmas Day from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

If you don’t have plans yet for New Year’s Eve, word has it that NoLo’s NYE Celebration is the place to be. Enjoy a delicious buffet dinner, live music until 1 a.m., dancing and a Champagne toast at midnight. If, like me, you have trouble staying up past 10 p.m., an earlier dinner seating is available from 5:30 to 8 p.m. (last seating at 7 p.m.). Make your first meal of 2017 one to remember with NoLo’s New Year’s Day Jazz Brunch including delicious $6 "brunch-y" cocktails.

Maybe you’re feeling a bit blah this year and need a little boost to get yourself into the holiday spirit. Book a reservation for The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa’s upcoming Champagne Dinner, featuring the wines of Perrier-Jouet, on Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. It’s almost guaranteed to usher in the joy of the season.

For more information about any of The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa’s festive dining options, including menus, visit their holiday dining page. For the ultimate in seasonal relaxation, combine any of these holiday dinners with an overnight stay and a spa visit the following day. For reservations call (978) 649-440 or visit the hotel's online reservation site.

Monday, November 21, 2016

NoLo Spiced Cherry Manhattan

The holiday season is nearly upon us! Wow your holiday guests this year by mixing up a batch of NoLo Bistro & Bar’s famous Spiced Cherry Manhattans, one of our most popular cocktails, perfect for entertaining. Recipe courtesy of NoLo’s resident mixologist Jared Bracci.

NoLo Spiced Cherry Manhattan

1.5 ounces MadRiver Distillers rye bourbon

1 ounce Antica Formula sweet vermouth

4 drops Woodford Reserve Spiced Cherry Bitters

2 Luxardo maraschino cherries

¼ of an orange

½ teaspoon brown sugar

Muddle one cherry, the orange quarter and brown sugar in the bottom of a large glass. After they are well combined, add rye, vermouth and bitters. Fill glass with ice and stir to combine and chill. Strain into a small rocks glass over fresh ice (NoLo uses one large, spherical ice cube) and add the second cherry for garnish. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Narrative of Wine and Food: The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa Celebration of Wine Dinner Series

In-depth discussions of wine, food and culture, exclusive, one-of-a-kind menus and expert lessons on agriculture and winemaking make The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa’s monthly wine dinners the best Monday night around.

By Emilie-Noelle Provost

If you’re anything like me, or many people for that matter, your Monday nights are reserved for yoga pants and reruns of Antiques Roadshow. Getting dressed up and going out for a nice dinner probably isn’t on your radar. At least once a month, though, it really should be.

For the last 26 years, The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa has invited winemakers from around the world to share with guests their in-depth knowledge of and enthusiasm for their craft. The wines they choose to highlight are paired with a five-course menu created especially for that evening – each course designed to complement a different wine.

Along with food, wine is also about stories, conversation and companionship. So, while you enjoy your meal you are invited to listen to the fascinating tale of each wine you’re presented with – often including bits of geology, biology, chemistry, history, politics, literature and more – as told by the winemakers themselves. Questions and discussion are encouraged. Communal seating allows for opportunities to meet and talk with fellow diners – interesting people from near and far.

A recent Celebration of Wine Dinner, held in October, featured wines from Chapter 24 Vineyards in Oregon. The winery’s owner and founder, Mark Tarlov, a former Hollywood producer, Supreme Court speechwriter and Justice Department attorney, joined us for dinner. His wines have won accolades from Wine & Spirits magazine, Vinous and Travel & Leisure, and his stories – featuring allusions to Homer’s Odyssey (the winery is named after its mythical chapter 24) and Alice in Wonderland, and lessons on the geological history of the Pacific Northwest – would have themselves almost been worth the price of admission.

But all of this is not to diminish the food. Executive Chef Mark Filteau created an inspiring menu that night, including courses as diverse as smoked steal head trout from New Hampshire, roasted pheasant, an Asian-inspired kimchi scallion pancake, and house-made duck-egg ravioli filled with duck confit – all of them delectable and dreamily paired with Tarlov’s wines.

As elegant as all of this sounds – and it is pretty magical, from the candlelight to the beautiful table setting – for the per person cost it’s a very good value. Guests can purchase the wines they sample and receive complimentary admission to Stonehedge Cellars’ upcoming monthly wine tasting (happily, also held on Mondays).

The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa’s next wine dinner, featuring Maison Perrier-Jouet, will be held on December 8. To make a reservation call (978) 649-4400 or visit our website.

If you don’t want to drive home after enjoying all that wine check out The Stonehedge’s overnight Wine Dinner Package. And don’t forget to add your name to the Wine Dinner Mailing List to be among the first to know about future dinners.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Creating New Dining Traditions: Meet Mark Filteau, NoLo’s New Executive Chef

Dining conventions are changing. First-rate restaurants are doing away with the fussy “fine dining” atmosphere and opting instead to focus on quality local ingredients, creative culinary techniques and the overall customer experience. At The Stonehedge Hotel and Spa’s NoLo Bistro & Bar, Executive Chef Mark Filteau is the driving force behind the fresh and inspired new menu that features innovative seasonal dishes and old favorites made with products grown and made locally.

A Florida native, Filteau has been working in kitchens since age 15. Now a resident of Hudson, N.H., Filteau honed his skills at Legal Sea Foods and at Latitudes at Wentworth By The Sea in New Castle, N.H., among other regional hot spots. Filteau, who took the reins at The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa’s signature restaurant last February, took some time out of his busy schedule recently to talk about his favorite ingredients, his vision for the future of NoLo and the things he enjoys most about his job.

How is NoLo different now from when it was Left Bank? Tell us about some of the changes you’ve made.

We wanted to be more approachable, to not be a place where people had to save up to come in and have a nice meal. I feel like a lot of the staunchy fine dining restaurants are going away and restaurants are becoming more approachable – even though often they are using the same high quality ingredients and techniques. We’ve really tried to remove the fear that people sometimes have when going out to a nice place, where they might be self-conscious about not being able to pronounce something on the menu. Here, you can wear jeans and a T-shirt if you want to and get great food done right without the sticker shock.

Can you talk about some of the local producers you are using?

Right now we’re getting a lot of products from Brookdale Farm [in Hollis, N.H.] and from the Tyngsborough Farmers Market. We get inspired by what’s available. We’ve also recently started working with Mill City Grows in Lowell. We get their lists weekly. We supplement these products by using a distributor that uses suppliers that have local farm programs. My eventual goal is to have everything on the menu come from within 50 miles.

What would you say to people who might be skeptical about eating in a hotel restaurant?

We have a personal touch. The same people are working here every day. We remember our customers. There are locals now who come in every week. And to others who might still have Left Bank in mind when they think of us, I’d say give us a shot. You’ll be very pleasantly surprised.

What’s your vision for NoLo’s future?

I would love for us to get as farm-to-table as we can – produce as much in-house as we can: cheeses, dry aging, butchering our own animals. I’d like to be as self-sustaining as possible. I’d love to do even more themed dinners, maybe one featuring Scotch and cigars or a nose-to-tail experience.

Tell us one of your favorite things about your job.

When you get to the executive chef level you don’t always get to cook that often, but recently when we were really busy I jumped back on the line. Just being in that zone again – there’s nothing else like it. I love that.

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Glorious Return of The Hotel Bar

Gone are the days when ordering a drink at a hotel bar was an activity reserved for killing time. Hotel bars, even those at nicer properties, were for many years more or less homogenous, often featuring bland, conservative decor, canned music and a fairly predictable selection of beers, wines and cocktails – certainly not the sort of place you’d want to spend a Saturday night. But with craft cocktail culture taking hold in cities across the globe, it was only a matter of time before hotels began to take notice and get on board.

Today’s hotel bars harken back to the classic cocktail lounges of the 1940s and ‘50s, to the era of Conrad Hilton, when the music was live, everyone dressed to the nines, and bartenders reigned supreme.

Jared Bracci, resident mixologist at NoLo Bistro + Bar, The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa’s signature bar and restaurant, has created innovative bar menus for several local hotspots including M.C. Spiedo in Boston and Stella Blu in Nashua, N.H. He thinks hotel bars started getting their groove back with the launch of Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ W Hotels brand back in the late 1990s.

“Each W Hotel has a trendy restaurant and bar – some of them even have nightclubs,” Bracci says. “They were so good that [W Hotels’ bars] began attracting locals.”

As part of The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa’s recent renovations and rebranding, the former Left Bank Restaurant and bar have been completely reimagined and revamped under the name NoLo, short for North of Lowell — appealing to locals and hotel guests alike who appreciate inventive, hip, seasonally-inspired cocktails and cuisine.

“Customers these days expect better quality than in the past,” says Bracci, whose goal is to bring Boston-style urban sophistication to the bar while also helping NoLo develop a unique regional identity and character.

“Our cocktail menu is based on the Merrimack Valley,” Bracci says. “We use as many locally made spirits as we can get our hands on, and many of our signature drinks are named after notable people from the region.”

“Betty Davis Eyes” (muddled blueberries, Ciroc apple, Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur, cranberry juice, soda, apple wedge) and “Daniel Webster’s Mule” (Tito’s Vodka, fresh lime juice, ginger beer) are just two examples from Bracci’s cocktail menu.

“I think the quality of the locally made spirits we use is much better than what hotel bars have used in the past,” says Bracci. “In addition to our new cocktails, we can make old fashioned drinks much better quality, too. That’s another reason hotel bars are better these days. Better ingredients make superior cocktails.”

Follow The Stonehedge Hotel & Spa on Facebook to find out what Jared will be shaking up next: