The tasting menus at the Dining Room at the Woodlands are superb things, expertly crafted and executed. But they come in two forms: five or seven courses, which can feel like a straitjacket for diners who like to do their own thing.

So they’ve introduced a new a la carte menu that’s divided into five intriguing sections: Preludes, The Fields & Vegetable Gardens, From Day Boats & Fishermen, All Natural Farms, and Artisanal Cheeses.

Now, you can order single dishes like housemade ricotta tortelloni primavera, Hawaiian Blue Prawns, Coddled Maine Lobster, or order the Trio of Domestic Goat Cheese. The options range in price from $9-$38 and show off the talents of the kitchen.

Speaking of the talented kitchen, they’ve started a communal blog, where Exec. Chef Nathan Whiting gives tips on deveining shrimp and pastry chef Caitlin Kelly talks about creating a dish using the flavors of sambuca and espresso.

Kelly also gives a behind-the-scenes look at creating the a la carte menu. “This new concept is giving us the freedom to put some very interesting dishes on the menu,” she writes. “Although the Trio of Domestic Goat Cheeses is my favorite of the new cheese dishes, it doesn’t mean that any cheese lover should miss out on the Shropshire Blue, Waldorf Style OR A la Minute Mozzarella with Heirloom Tomatoes. Keep checking in, the new cheese program has just started to stretch its legs. There will be plenty more cool stuff to come.”

Cool stuff indeed. I’ve already put them on my list for another visit. It’s been far too long.

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