If you live anywhere in New England and you don’t know about the Hawthorne Hotel, you should. And if you’re ever in Salem, Massachusetts, you have no excuse not to stop in. Tell them The Hungry Mouse sent you to have a nibble. You won’t be sorry.
So The Hawthorne is one of those grand old hotels, in mini form, nestled right next to the Common.
The first time I walked in (a few weeks ago, to have coffee with Juli Lederhaus, the hotel’s general manager and one of the nicest people on the planet), it felt like a historic Manhattan hotel.
The Hawthorne also happens to be right up the street from The Mouse House, making it extra convenient for holiday feasting. Now that we’ve finally managed to get ourselves inside, I know we’ll be spending a fair amount of time at the Tavern this winter, tucked in by the fire with cozy beverages and snacks.
We walked in through the side entrance on Essex Street, which puts you in just the right position to peek into Nathaniel’s, the fancier of the hotel’s two restaurants.
Here’s the proper entrance to the restaurant.
And what you see once you walk inside.
For Christmas brunch, however, they transformed the entire lobby into a banquet and buffet area, with seating in Nathaniel’s, the Tavern, and the grand ballroom.
We were seated in the Tavern (the door on the left).
We couldn’t have asked for a better table.
The Tavern opens up to the grand ballroom, which is just as grand as it sounds—and makes you want to put on your best posh frock, drink champagne, and go twirl around in the center of the room.
Enough poking around. We were there for the food. And it didn’t disappoint. We ordered a bottle of wine and went to investigate the buffet.
Right before we got up, Juli came by and snapped a few family pictures for us (thank you, thank you!). And, of course, because I always have my camera with me, I had to reciprocate.
To the buffet!
The lobby was packed with food. There was a bunch of delicious brunch-y stuff. Bacon. Waffles. Eggs. Sausages (mmm, sausages)…
And a carving station with prime rib, roast turkey, and ham.
There was an assortment of other stuff, including a nutty cranberry pilaf and some outstanding butternut squash ravioli with sage brown butter cream sauce.
The Angry Chef loaded up on waffles and bacon to start. (Everyone drinks scotch with their waffles, right?)
While Mom and I took a little bit of everything.
As someone who used to review restaurants for a living, I have to say: Buffets are hard to pull off.
There’s a ton of food. You need to keep it hot. You need to keep replenishing the chafing dishes. You need to keep it from drying out.
I can safely say that The Hawthorne Hotel threw one of the best buffets I’ve ever seen. The food was great, and the service was outstanding.
I’m not quite sure how, but we managed to leave room for dessert.
They even had mini apple pies—one of my favorite desserts. (Hey, I’m a mouse. We’re partial to food in miniature form.)
Visit The Hawthorne Hotel
18 Washington Square W
Salem, Massachusetts, 01970
Hope you and yours all had a wonderful holiday!
December was great and packed with adventure, but I’m looking forward to the new year.
I can’t wait to get back to serious business in the kitchen. We have a metric ton of new recipes to test, as well as another book and a few other top-secret projects in the works.
Thanks again for all your support this year. Don’t forget to download your free copy of our cookbook, a Holiday Feast!