Finding the Keys
Michael Carroll examines the literary history and enduring allure of Key West.
Chef Thomas Henkelmann's restaurant, on the ground floor of Homestead Inn, has been enjoying rave reviews since 1997, when he and wife Theresa took over the historic property. Based in part on his experience in the kitchens of Michelin three-stars (Auberge de l'IIl in Alsace and Aubergine in Munich), he deftly combines traditional and modern influences—seared yellowfin tuna with pineapple-mango chutney and a light curry vinaigrette was a perfect starter, as was a silky terrine of Hudson Valley duck foie gras; then it was off to sliced loin of venison pot-au-feu style and a beautiful fillet of Atlantic sea bass with crisped potato scales, fennel fan, tomato fondue, and sauce bouillabaisse. Service is topnotch. While Henkelmann oversees the kitchen, Theresa uses her background in interior design in an ongoing effort to refurbish the inn's 22 small, atmospheric guestrooms. Of the 12 rooms in the main building, a 201-year-old former farmhouse, best are rooms 23 (one of the larger bedrooms with ormolu bedside lamps, a carved fourposter bearing a Duxiana mattress, and a surprisingly modern bathroom done almost entirely in beige Carrara marble) and 37 (a smaller, more playful room with an African motif that smoothly pairs a darkly patinated, oversized wicker lounge chair with a more contemporary wrought-iron-and-glass coffee table). Of the rooms in the two separate buildings, number five was small but cozy with its recently installed Mexican tile floor that is heated from beneath and its spacious, double-sink bathroom with separate floor thermostat. An indulgent alternative to the post-dinner drive home. Dinner: $98-$148. Rooms: $250-$395. 420 Field Point Road; 203-869-7500; fax 203-869-7502. www.homesteadinn.com