Henderson Village, just west of Perry off Interstate 75, is an idyllic collection of 19th century fin de siècle homes and cottages set on 18 pastoral acres. In the main house, the beautiful Langston House Restaurant is dressed in somber tones of tan and black with simple but elegant additions of silver and wood.
The German owner opened this place 200 years after its original construction, taking care to maintain architectural integrity while upscaling the decor luxuriously. When the resort opened its doors in 1998, it won national and international awards for design and implementation.
Since then, however, it has lost a bit of luster. Gorgeous silver butter knives lay alongside flatware from Walmart, with appetizers winnowed down to fried cheese sticks and the wall-sized wine rack completely bare.
Luckily, it has retained its good bones. We dined in a room with a Tom Sawyer-esque mural adorning an entire wall. The owner had recently returned to check in and found this room being used for storage. Large windows were set into horizontally wide-planked walls on two other sides, and a Heimlich poster was taped to the fourth.
The side porch is one of the two largest dining rooms and at night it is exquisite. Without much passing traffic, the only sounds are the frogs singing and the pecan leaves rustling. Lights are kept low to allow diners to see across the dark yard and fields beyond.
Our salads arrived and were crisp, cold and abundant. My Caesar salad was crunchy and properly dressed. My companions B&B salad was served on a bed of fresh field greens topped with light bleu cheese crumbles, raisins and toasted spiced pecans, with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
The shrimp and grits was attractively plated, with blackened shrimp and broccoli pressed into the cheesy grits for $23.95. Alone, the shrimp was too spicy and the grits too bland, but once I learned to eat them together, the dish was divine. My guests Mediterranean 10-ounce strip streak was cooked a bit beyond his requested medium and its herb and feta cheese compound butter seemed more garlic than butter, but it was still an appealing and tasty dish. Served with sautéed fingerling potatoes, steamed fresh asparagus and finished with a rosemary red wine reduction, this was a hearty meal for $26.95.
Other entrees include Parmesan-encrusted tilapia with pasta alla puttanesca, sautéed mussels over angel hair pasta, pan-seared chicken with mild sausages and artichoke hearts, a honey soy-glazed salmon filet, and a 6-ounce fillet mignon with wild mushroom risotto.
The dessert chef had recently left, so our only option was off-site made cheesecake, which was a bit gritty but serviceable.
Our server was accommodating but busy as the only staff on the floor.
Henderson Village has so much potential. With just a few visits from the stylish residents of nearby Perry, this aging gem could become the grande dame it once was.
Langston House Restaurant at Henderson Village
Address: 125 S. Langston Circle, Perry
Hours: 7:30-9 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and 6-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 7:30-9 a.m., 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and 6-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Payment: Cash, credit
Kids Menu: No
Noise Level: Low
Health Rating: 94
Price range: $9-$14 for lunch; $18-$29 for dinner
Rating: 3 stars