By Ron Bernthal
HISTORIC HOTEL RE-OPENS AFTER FIVE YEAR RESTORATION
Before checking into my room at the Hotel Fauchèrere, a beautifully restored 19th-century Italianate-style hotel in the small town of Milford, Pennsylvania, I walked down a few steps to the hotel’s Bar Louis, a below-ground bar/restaurant that felt, surprisingly, more like trendy Soho than rustic Americana. The first thing that struck me (as it does everyone) was the huge black & white photograph above the bar, showing Andy Warhol kissing John Lennon on the cheek. The photo, I later learned, was taken in 1978 by avant-garde photographer and former Warhol protégé, Christopher Makos (www.makostudio.com). Other Makos, and photo partner Paul Solberg, prints lined the Anigre wood walls, and with Norah Jones emanating from the speakers, menu items that included Angus beef hamburgers with grilled onions and sushi pizza, and a friendly staff, I knew I had found the hidden gem in this small Delaware River town.
The rest of the hotel, which re-opened in July, 2006, after an extensive five-year restoration, was quite different in atmosphere, but equally as impressive. A National Register landmark building, the hotel was constructed in 1880 and purchased by Louis Fauchèrere, a French-speaking Swiss, who left his position as chef at New York City’s famous Delmonico’s restaurant to open his own eatery, also called Delmonico’s (I guess you could do that in those days), within his own hotel. In the early 1900′s celebrity visitors like Zane Grey and Mary Pickford frequented the hotel, and Theodore Roosevelt sketched out the plan for the National Park Service on a Fauchèrere dinner napkin. After having sat vacant for many years, the hotel has been beautifully restored with 16 luxury guestrooms, all with flat-screen TV’s, feather beds and Frette linens, high-speed Wi-Fi, and marble bathrooms with Kiehl toiletries. My room overlooked the back garden, with a large, private terrace that offered a nice place to sit in the spring sunshine.
Needless to say, the rooms are all high-tech and modern, but the public areas have been restored in the traditional and classic 19th-century style, with Hudson River School paintings lining the walls, original chestnut floors and moldings, and bead board ceilings. The Delmonico Room was created out of the original dining room and an adjacent sun-porch, and during lunch and early dinners natural light pours in through the porch windows. Chef Michael Glatz is CIA-trained, and was instrumental in revolutionizing the culinary scene on the island of Vieques, in Puerto Rico, with Chef Michael’s restaurant at the Inn on the Blue Horizon, and then with his own seaside gourmet shop called FoodSpace. Chef Michael believes in cooking traditional food, without all the fuss and pretentious plate displays of much high-end cooking these days. You won’t even find a salt and pepper shaker on your table at the Fauchere’s Delmonico’s dining room, as Chef Michael feels that his food leaves the kitchen already perfectly seasoned (he was right too!).
My dinner companion and I were too intimidated to order one of the hotel’s two signature dishes, the Delmonico Steak, a 16-ounce dry-aged prime Angus ribeye (the other is frogs legs), but my pan seared veal chop with polenta fries, and my guest’s fresh turbot, with bok choy and roasted oyster mushrooms, were excellent. Continental breakfast, which includes home made granola, yogurt, berries, and fresh-squeezed orange juice, is served in the dining room and included in the room rate.
The hotel has also restored the Emerson House, a 1902 Queen Anne-style home next door, which is being used for business meetings and social events. A new 50-foot underground service corridor leads from the Fauchèrere’s kitchen to the Emerson House conference rooms. This new meeting space annex, combined with the hotel’s luxury sleeping quarters, has been attracting a good deal of corporate business.
401 Broad Street
Milford, PA 18337
Tel: 570-409-1212; FAX: 570-409-1251
Room Rates: $275-$350 per room, per night
Dinner: $50 per person, prix fixe
Pike County Chamber of Commerce
209 East Harford Street,
Milford, PA 18337
Tel: 570-296-8700; FAX: 570-296-3921