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Is Wildflower Farms Clay Worth the Outrageous Price?

techsm5

Wildflower Farms, the new hotel from luxury hotel company Auberge Resorts, opened in Gardiner in the last days of September 2022 as the fall colors began to bloom. Rooms at the time started at $1,000 a night, plus taxes and fees. (Rates dropped somewhat for winter.) Within weeks, the leaves were at their peak and the Wildflower parking lot was filling with Porsches, Maseratis and BMWs. Apparently Peak Fool had arrived in the Hudson Valley.

Ultra-luxury hotels need fancy restaurants, of course. The one in Wildflower is called Clay, a beautiful restaurant with somewhat uneven cuisine – sometimes brilliant, sometimes meh – that’s also extremely expensive.

Approaching Wildflower Farms in the winter darkness, the buildings glow from within, all tan orange and gold ingot yellow. The restaurant is accessed via a reception area with a gigantic foyer, which is a superbly comfortable gathering place. (Locals are welcome.)

The restaurant itself is eye-catching with a chic ski lodge feel, acres of woods, and fireside warmth. Four waxy-leaved trees reach up to the high, wood-beamed ceiling, and a pretty open kitchen functions smoothly even when open flames sputter inside.

Everything seems perfect and relaxing. And then the menu comes.

Clay doesn’t publish prices on their website, so I took pictures of the menu. Maybe he wants his guests to start their meals with the unforgettable taste of sticker shock. For example, entrees: yellowfin tuna ($24); Black Angus Tartar ($30); sweet potato ($22). Main courses: halibut ($44); grilled rib steak ($68); doorman ($210, but “serves 2-3”). The cheapest wine by the glass is $17. There’s a bottle of Dom Pérignon on the menu for $3,750.

At these prices, the food should be consistently exceptional. But a starter of salsify (an edible root, $22) was awkwardly plated with clumps of mustard greens seemingly tossed onto the plate like last-minute Ave Marias. It was the first meh.

techsm5

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