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: Facebook.com/TheStonehedge.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thursday Night LIVE MUSIC featuring Derek Bergman (9/29/16)

Fresh off a nationwide tour with an Australian aboriginal band, singer songwriter Derek John Bergman joins us at NoLo Bistro & Bar for an evening of blues, acoustic and singer/songwriter favorites. A member of the winning band in the Boston Blues Challenge, and nominee for the Blues Music Award, Derek is a true performer with an enjoyable low key style. Derek is a member of the Boston based band Barrel House Brotherhood and also performs regularly with the Derek John Acoustic Trio.

Join us EVERY Thursday and enjoy live music from great local artists and no cover. On Thursdays, the kitchen is open until 11pm and the bar is open late. Come for Chef Mark Filteau's inventive New England cuisine and stay for the cocktails, beer, wine and music!

Minutes from Lowell and Nashua, NoLo Bistro is right off Exit 35 on Route 3 in Tyngsboro, Mass. Visit us at 160 Pawtucket Blvd, Tyngsborough, MA 01879 or call 978-649-4400 for more information.

Upcoming schedule: http://www.stonehedgeinnandspa.com/livemusic