Located at 11th and Market Streets in Wilmington, Delaware, you can find the classic, world-renown Hotel du Pont, a historic treasure approaching its 100th anniversary. Opening its beautiful doors in 1913, The Hotel du Pont strived to be a great European-style hotel of the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.
With only 80,000 residents at the time in the quaint city of Wilmington, it was surprising that as many as 25,000 visitors came to see the hotel within its opening days. The visionary, Pierre S. du Pont, the owner of the Dupont Company, a company providing scientific solutions globally, planned this hotel originally with 150 guest rooms, a main dining room, a “rathskeller” or bar, a men’s cafe and bar, club room, ballroom, and ladies’ sitting rooms. The stunning French and Italian craftsmanship is evident in each and every room of this hotel. The hotel went through many changes over the years especially during the 1950s, however, today the lobby has been restored to the elegant, timeless grandeur that it once beheld in its beginning days. The guest rooms have also been renovated to reflect the preservation of the history and charm in a modern way.
Many high-profile guests have walked through the doors of The Hotel du Pont including historic figures like Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, John F. Kennedy, and Joe DiMaggio. Entertainers such as Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Duke Ellington, Elizabeth Taylor and Whoopi Goldberg have enjoyed spending time in the grand Hotel du Pont. Besides the glorious lobby and guest rooms, The Green Room (the main dining room) features French cuisine in a beautiful setting with gold chandeliers, panels of oak, Italian mosaic and original paintings. Large, comfortable wingback chairs and incredible floor-to-ceiling drapes give you the sense that you are dining like royalty. The consecutive 24-time winner of the four diamond AAA award, The Green Room’s Executive Chef, Keith Miller, offers a menu that utilizes the best seasonal ingredients combined with a creative touch. You can dine any time of the day in The Green Room with breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.
I had the pleasure of indulging in a lovely dinner at The Green Room. The menu is sophisticated with a slight edge maintaining the classicism and integrity of the hotel while embracing the modern trends of the today’s culinary arts. The appetizers start you off strong with items like “Hudson Valley Foie Gras-golden raisin two ways, chipotle-vanilla brioche and three salts”, “Citrus-Smoked Salmon Wrapped Diver Scallops-buckwheat bilini, golden trout roe and dill emulsion”, or (my favorite named-dish) “A Study in Local Mushrooms-exotic mushroom consomme with porcini-dusted sweetbread, mushroom foam, and a rosemary-scented smoked mushroom skewer”. With amazing choices like these, it was difficult to decide but we opted for the “Seafood Boudin-Blanc-beluga lentil ragout and truffle pistou” (shown above). This dish is reminiscent of a true boudin sausage but becomes something all its own, possessing rich flavors of the sea in this complex seafood sausage blend but the real enhancement and intensity of this dish comes from the truffle pistou, an oil-based cold sauce.
Following appetizers, soups and salads are offered like the “Warm Wilted Spinach and Purple Cress Salad-wild boar bacon, shallots, quail egg, and goat cheese vinaigrette” or “Sweet Onion-Almond ‘Cappuccino’-crispy ris de veau and onion crostini”. Entrees are perfectly suited for meat and seafood lovers alike. “Loin of Colorado Lamb-pommes puree, braised baby fennel, lemon-thyme bourbon whiskey pan sauce” (shown above on the right), and “Charbroiled Veal Chop-brandy grilled pears, forest mushrooms, and white truffle emulsion” satisfy those carnivore cravings.
Seafood lovers can delight in “Butter Poached Tiger Prawns-‘sous vide’ artichoke and black olives, ale stewed wheatberry, smoked tomato broth” or “Line-Caught Black Sea Bass-salsify-pistachio-shiitake saute, crispy shiitake, and sauce foie gras”. For the best of both worlds order the “Surf and Turf-grilled 6-oz. black angus filet, calvados demi, lobster medallion, frisee, petite vegetables and parisienne potatoes” (shown above on the left). If that’s not enough, the chef has new specials daily like the one I tried featuring cod with a filet of seared cod and cod mousse shaped into scallops drizzled in truffle oil, surrounded with seasonal vegetables and topped with parsnip crisps (shown above). If this menu is intimidating at all to you, then feel free to order from the bar menu with classics that are sure to satisfy.
Even with all the intrigue of the dinner menu, the “After Dinner Enjoyments” or dessert menu certainly takes the cake. Executive chef, Michele Mitchell creates exquisite confections like “Sweet Cream Cheese Panna Cotta-sour cherry compote and graham cracker tuile” or “Lemon Grass Scented Creme Brulee-wild strawberry juice and vanilla bean tuile”. A true chocolate lover’s heaven can be found with “Three Chocolates Tasting-milk chocolate milk shake, white chocolate almond terrine, and moist chocolate ganache cake”. For something that is as beautiful as it is delectable, try “Our Signature Dessert: Amaretto White Chocolate Raspberry Napoleon-thin layers of dark chocolate between white chocolate amaretto mousse with fresh raspberries and berry coulis” (shown on the left). If I could make this, then it would certainly be my signature too. Rich, chocolaty, and creamy with touches of sweet, tangy fruit and almond flavors make this signature a true masterpiece.
Whether you are visiting the Wilmington area or live in or near Wilmington, Delaware, then I highly suggest a trip to the legendary Hotel du Pont, especially its extraordinary Green Room. You are sure to soak in the history of this near century-old landmark hotel. After walking through the doors, you will immediately feel as though you have been transported to an old European city. Take advantage of this feeling, enjoy a cocktail in the bar and dine the night away-you can even sleep over.