Guest Columns

Seafood Abounds as Equus in Tarrytown Introduces Fall Menus

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Four fall menus with lots of intriguing and imaginative seafood dishes were introduced this week at Equus at the resplendent and internationally acclaimed Castle Hotel & Spa in Tarrytown.

The fall menu lineup consists of à la carte lunch and dinner menus, a five-course, $85 prix-fixe dinner menu and a prix-fixe three-course, $58 Sunday brunch menu.

An abundance of seafood dominates the four French-inspired menus and many items exhibit deft touches of the kitchen’s creativity.

For example, an innovative dinner menu dish includes octopus prepared four different ways – tempura, grilled, burgundy style and red wine stewed. The dinner menu has scallops and grouper as appetizers, and as a main course a distinctive “oil bath swordfish” (a blending of bok choy, Tomatillo jam and black bean Diable sauce). Roasted lobster with leek pudding and jumbo shrimp with blue cheese orange sauce round out the seafood on the dinner menu.

Not to be outdone, the lunch menu has tempting seafood dishes including crab cake Benedict and grilled octopus with halloumi cheese, artichoke and honey mint sauce. An unusual offering is lobster BLT (bacon, chopped romaine lettuce and tomato) accompanied by rouille mayonnaise on brioche. Other lunch options include salmon with green cabbage sauce, swordfish and tuna tartare.

The a la carte dinner menu has appetizers starting at $15 and entrées ranging from $27 to $39.

Prix-fixe menus are available for dinner (five courses, including a pair of desserts at $85 per person) and Sunday brunch (three courses at $58 per person). Tax and gratuity are additional.

The a la carte lunch menu has salads priced at $14 and up and pear soup accompanied by smoked foie gras, chestnut and maple syrup ($15). Luncheon entrées include wrapped mushroom risotto ($19), grilled swordfish ($23) and a Wagyu beef burger ($26).

Non-seafood lovers can opt for a luscious “land” dish such as grilled lamb rack with smoked eggplant puree, fried pappardelle and natural lamb jus available a la carte at dinner ($35) and also on the five-course prix-fixe menu.

The Castle Hotel & Spa is a 31-room resort on nearly 11 acres in Tarrytown. Construction began more than 100 years ago by Gen. Howard Carroll, a darling of the New York social set, a City Hall beat reporter for The New York Times and the operator of construction businesses during the late 19th and early 20th centuries

The family tree traces back to Charles Carroll, who left England in 1688, settled in Maryland, entered politics and accumulated vast tracts of land from the Chesapeake to the Potomac.

His descendent, William Carroll, was an Army general whose Tennessee militiamen escorted a wagon train carrying federal muskets in January 1815 to the besieged American forces of Gen. Andrew Jackson in New Orleans.

During the Civil War, Howard Carroll’s father Samuel, a Union Army colonel and a West Point graduate, commanded a brigade that helped turn back Pickett’s Charge. Samuel was later promoted to brigadier general and then to major general when wounds sustained at Spotsylvania ended his military career. Howard’s mother was the daughter of a Maryland governor.

Howard Carroll liked hosting extravagant parties attended by royalty, politicians, the upper echelons of high society and leading stage celebrities. (He was also a playwright.)

He tired of entertaining his growing circle of friends in the confines of New York City. A search revealed that land 25 miles away perched on the highest hilltop in Westchester County had grandiose views of the Hudson River and the Palisades, and stone could be quarried on the site.

After a long period of considering prominent architects on the east coast, Howard Carroll hired Henry F. Kilburn to design “The Castle at Carrollcliffe.”

At that time, Kilburn was in the twilight of a long and distinguished career as an architect. He was a few months shy of his 21st birthday when he designed the St. James’ Episcopal Church on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, which still stands today. The construction of St. James Church began in 1864.

Influencing Howard Carroll’s choice of Kilburn as architect was a townhouse he had designed in 1887 on East 39th Street that broke with New York tradition, defying the monotonous rules of brownstone row house design prevalent then. Kilburn deftly combined Queen Anne and Tudor-style elements rarely used for the homes of the rich and famous in New York City.

The townhouse had been built for a 36-year-old single woman said to be an acquaintance of Carroll’s, although the exact relationship between the two is unknown.

The Castle would be Kilburn’s last important assignment. He was in failing health and died in 1905, several months before the first phase of construction was completed. More than 100 artisans and skilled stonecutters labored to construct The Castle. It was built in stages ending in 1905, 1907 and 1910, when the final stone was put in place.

Howard Carroll died on Dec. 30, 1916, leaving a wife, Caramai, and two children, Arthur and Lauren. The last family member living in The Castle moved out in 1940, and the following year it was purchased by an investment firm. Ownership has changed hands several times over the years.

Name changes also occurred along the way and in recent years went from The Castle at Tarrytown to The Castle on the Hudson and then to Castle Hotel & Spa.

The Castle was never fitted with cannons or other armament as a deterrent to enemy vessels that might try to navigate the Hudson River but it served as a lookout post during World War II.

Equus is located in the Castle Hotel & Spa at 400 Benedict Ave. in Tarrytown. For reservations, call 914-631-3646.

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