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Democrat & Chronicle
First bite: Wyoming County inn is a cozy getaway
The Hillside Inn is an elegant gem tucked in the hills above the village of Wyoming. Built in 1851, this mansion has a long history of service and hospitality, hosting guests such as John Muir, Susan B. Anthony and the Roosevelts. This past February, Paula and John "J.D." Hade became the newest proprietors. The Hades enlisted chef Jeff Wujcik, a native of LeRoy, Genesee County. Whether for a meal or an overnight stay, the Hillside Inn is a cozy cool-weather destination.
The appetizer menu has a decidedly Mexican influence, although the main menu is more continental. To start, we selected two items — the Hillside quesadilla ($7.50) and the spicy stuffed Poblanos ($8.50). Not only were the servings of amazing proportion, but quality did not bow to quantity. The flour tortillas were nearly imperceptible under a generous stacking of tender cooked shrimp and chicken chunks. Dressed with a blush-colored basil tomato confit, it was crowned with an edible orchid supported by corn tortilla spirals. The Poblanos presented four dark green chili halves filled with a lightly seasoned beef mixture topped with melted cheese. The delightfully zippy salsa verde pooled around it invited finishing, calling every last tortilla curl and crusty roll into service.
One companion chose the lamb chops ($21), ordered medium rare. Two good-sized chops were grilled just as requested, then topped with a rich tarragon-infused cabernet sauce. This combination of three strong flavors is difficult to balance, and the tarragon was quite assertive. Another companion chose the Ahi Tuna ($16), ordered rare at the chef's suggestion. The delicately seared crust of white and black sesame seeds broke easily to reveal a cool pink center. A light soy teriyaki sauce, some wasabi and a rosette of pickled ginger accompanied it. I chose the Roast Duckling ($20) which offered two leg quarters roasted till the skin was crisp. The duck was topped with a scattering of plumped raisins, then drizzled with a light apple cider and orange honey glaze. All entrees came with potato or grilled veggies. We liked the tiny redskin potato cups piped with a creamy Parmesan horseradish filling.
All the desserts are made in-house. We ordered the Key lime pie ($6.50), which was the table favorite. It flirted between torte and pie, with a tall, springform-molded graham cracker crust and a creamy dense lime filling. The Crème Brulee ($4) was very nice and had a hint of orange in the crackling sugar topping. The Bananas Foster ($6) was a generous serving of the warm caramelized bananas atop two scoops of cooling vanilla ice cream.
A small but complementary wine list is available to diners. A full bar, down an adjacent hallway, has a rustic feel with a polished wooden bar and coyote and bearskins on the wall. J.D. presides over the bar and offered us a complimentary drink of his own design. The creamy Oatmeal Cookie had hints of cinnamon, vanilla and Irish Cream.
There are several dining rooms available. One is bright and airy and used mostly for guest breakfasts or teas. There is a main dining room used for larger functions, and a small den-like dining room with hand hewn wooden beams and an open hearth. We ate in the Library Room, with carved wood panel walls and rich red tones.