Going Bananas Over a Plate of Pasta


The last time my family and I went to The Greenbrier, some five months ago,the hotel announced it would be closing for a while to refurbish, add a new high-end restaurant, and make a few other nips and tucks. We were amused that our daughter, Katy, on the sixth annual visit of her seven and a half years, was simultaneously outraged and nostalgic. My husband and I, who've probably been there 15 times, knew just how she felt. I only wish she'd been at lunch with me last week for a sneak preview in New York of the menu that will be debut at the new restaurant, Hemisphere, when it opens in late June (the hotel itself re-opens on Monday).  A six-course tasting menu from chef Michael Voltaggio (most recently at Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen in Sonoma County) started with delicate alabaster shreds of abalone and cuttlefish nestled in an abalone shell and topped with a puff of "pad Thai" foam. The dish was spectacular, and lunch went onward and upward from there, without a single misstep in any of the six courses. Even "banana pasta," which sounded like one of those frat-boy foods young Bulli-esque chefs might dream up, was neither gross nor silly, just exotically delicious. As a Greenbrier veteran, I couldn't help thinking, "This from a staid old hotel in West Virginia that bills itself as 'America's Resort'?". Now I can't wait to go back. And even though she'll be a mature eight years old soon, I have a feeling Katy will flip for the food, too, just as I did.

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