Yesterday, co-owner Jerry Colangelo unveiled the first $7 million wave of renovations to the historic Wigwam Resort in Litchfield Park. The resort's main building is near unrecognizable unless you're old enough to remember when Harry Truman was President. Many vintage details have been restored or reimagined. Tall ceilings have been replaced by lower ones framed with wood beams. The original horsehair and mud fireplace serves as a focal point for a set of individual rooms that feel more like an upscale private residence than a stuffy corporate hotel.
We scored a sneak peek at Litchfield's, the farm-to-table restaurant that replaces Red's Steakhouse and opens to the public today. Designed by Jim Smith (also responsible for T. Cook's and Lon's at the Hermosa), the restaurant continues the cozy, private feel of the remodeled resort. Three dining patios offer trickling fountains, roaring fireplaces, comfortable padded seating and a sweet view of the new pool area.
Images of the new Litchfield's, plus more from Chris Bianco, after the jump...
Though pizza maven Chris Bianco is credited as the inspiration behind Litchfield's menu, he swears he's not moving into the restaurant consulting business. According to Bianco, this project was more about his personal interest in a landmark hotel he calls "fun and funky."
"It's not about anybody trying to take credit," says Bianco. "It's just that there are a lot of people in the community that, if we set in the right direction, will go farther than we ever imagined."
Nationally, the farm-to-table concept is getting a lot of public attention. Folks from rural Iowa to New York and Los Angeles are embracing the idea that you should understand the food on your table, as well as the ingredients used at restaurants. Are the vegetables grown locally, or flown in from Chile? Is the meat being irradiated? These are things diners want to know.
Chef de Cuisine Brian Cooper is taking the origins of the ingredients served at Litchfield's into account, cooking up free-range meats and local vegetables on a wood fired grill in the open kitchen. "We're going to get away from the frou-frou stuff and go more towards comfort food," explains Cooper. He plans to add seasonal specials in the future based on produce availability.
Bianco is equally excited about sourcing ingredients at the onsite farmer's market, which takes place every Sunday from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. on the Wigwam's front lawn. "The idea was that these things exist in the community," Bianco tells New Times. "If your neighbor has onions, you make onion soup. I was always taught that you cook from your back door out, and you stop at the point of compromise."
The price point at Litchfield's is about $8-14 for appetizers/small plates and $16-26 for entrees such as Double Check Ranch chopped steak with sweet potato spaetzle, Talus Wind lamb stew, and wood fired pork chops with Wilcox apple sauce.
At yesterday's ribbon-cutting ceremony, Jerry Colangelo and his partners hinted at some huge changes in store for the resort's other restaurant, Arizona Kitchen, including bringing in some internationally known chefs! Look for more information on Chow Bella as the project progresses.
More pics of Litchfield's on the next page...