The Esperanza Restaurant and Inn sits perched atop a hill overlooking the rural outpost of Bluff Point on the western branch of Keuka Lake. This Greek revival mansion has seen many reincarnations over the course of its 168 year history, serving as everything from a winery to an orphanage and passing through too many different private owners to count. By the time I was a kid in the 1970’s, the mansion was abandoned and had fallen into serious disrepair. Looming atop a steep driveway, the old building had the scary aura of a haunted house, and had become a late night party hangout for local teens, who broke into the building and scrawled graffiti all over the crumbling walls. Local gossip says that famous Brazilian artist Romero Britto actually submitted the highest offer for the estate when it went up for sale a few years back, but the eccentric painter and sculptor lost out to more influential Rochester developer David Wegman. Wegman built a cheap looking new motel in the mansion parking lot, which stands markedly apart from the stunning architecture of the original mansion. I toured the mansion after it first re-opened several years back, and was not impressed by the ersatz décor. You picked up a candlestick and saw the fifty-cent “Big Lots” price sticker still on the bottom. Cheap pictures on the walls looked like they came from the same Big Lots bargain bin.
My husband and I ate dinner at the Esperanza restaurant on a Friday night in August. We opted to eat in the fine dining section, and were immediately seated at a corner table upon our arrival. The room featured a fireplace and a hutch full of china tea cups. Deep casement windows alongside our table overlooked the valley and lake below. I ordered a glass of local wine and we were swiftly presented with a basket of warm rolls accompanied by softened butter. For starters, I ordered the basil, tomato and mozzarella salad. The menu boasted that this salad contained vine-ripened tomatoes. Since August is the month of ripe tomatoes - especially in this rural area bursting with Mennonite farm stands – I expected nothing less. To my disappointment, thin, off-pink slices of tomato arrived, looking like something that might accompany a fast food hamburger. The dish was topped off by rubbery mozzarella cheese served cold and drizzled with a grainy mustard seed dressing. My husband made a better choice with a crock of silky lobster shrimp bisque. Sadly, throughout the meal we were tormented by fruit flies. Our constant swatting at these little pests presented a serious distraction to our enjoyment of the meal. Organic veal arrived with spinach like growing moss piled atop two medallions of meat. For the accompanying presentation, matchstick-thin potato sticks were piled over braised leeks and potatoes that swam in a wine reduction sauce of pan juices. The crusty chunks of veal were soft and delicious. Too full for desert, I ordered coffee, which was served in a small white ceramic cup and tasted very much like instant. Dinner for two, with two glasses of wine came to $109. At these prices, no wonder the only locals I saw were the waitresses. We couldn’t leave without walking out onto the veranda and taking in the spectacular view of the western branch of Keuka Lake. This is the one thing the Esperanza offers which no one else can: the most breath-taking view you will find anywhere in the Finger Lakes.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Since 1838, the Esperanza Mansion has represented the highest level of Greek Revival Architecture in the Finger Lakes region of New York state. It has now been fully restored to its 19th century splendor. Guests may choose from 9 Mansion guest rooms and 21 rooms at The Inn at Experanza. The Esperanza Mansion offers breathtaking views of Keuka Lake and the surrounding countryside, making this the ideal destination for a relaxing Finger Lakes getaway. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Esperanza Mansion Hotel Bluff Point