HEW Parlor & Chophouse brings glamour to Dunedin (PHOTOS)

Standing majestically along the waters of St. Joseph Sound, The Fenway Hotel is a captivating icon of Dunedin. Steeped in history, dating back to 1927, the hotel has been revitalized as part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, blending its rich jazz-era heritage with modern luxury. At the heart of this rebirth is HEW Parlor & Chophouse, a dining experience that pays homage to the hotel’s musical roots while exploring new culinary frontiers.

The Fenway Hotel’s story began when it opened as a seasonal destination for wealthy northerners escaping winter. Over the decades, it hosted an exclusive clientele of explorers, artists, politicians and musicians, becoming a symbol of the Jazz Age’s elegance and revelry. Its unique musical heritage led it to house Pinellas County’s first radio station, WGHB, in 1925. Transitioning through various roles, from hosting Trinity College to becoming the headquarters for the Taoist Tai Chi Society of the United States, Fenway’s story is one of adaptation and resilience.  

In 2014, a new chapter began with the property’s acquisition by the Taoist Tai Chi Society, eventually leading to its transformation, blending its historical charm with modern luxury. In February 2018, Mainsail Lodging & Development split the parcels with The Taoist Tai Chi Society and resumed renovations on the historic property to revitalize its elegant Mediterranean Revival style. On October 25, 2018, Fenway Hotel reopened its doors as a member of the Autograph Collection, a group of independent hotels around the world. The Fenway Hotel now stands alongside its sister property, The Epicurean Hotel, in Tampa, as part of this exclusive collection. 

The Mediterranean Revival style that graces the iconic Fenway buildings emerged from the visionary mind of Herman Everett Wendell, a pioneering architect. The name “HEW” pays homage to the architect’s initials and the act of “hewing,” or cutting and shaping, which he masterfully executed in crafting the Fenway’s distinctive architectural identity. This fusion of past and present celebrates Wendell’s enduring legacy while embracing the restaurant’s vibrant, unconventional spirit. 

Upon entering, guests are transported to the decadent 1920s with meticulous details. Dark paneled glass with gold etching creates an intimate, speakeasy-style, atmosphere complemented by hand-painted ceilings and copper accents evoking jazz clubs of the past. The chef’s counter, wrapped around the open kitchen, allows patrons to observe the culinary artistry up close. 

Chef Clayton Parrett leads the kitchen, bringing his passion for chophouse cuisine with a modern flair to every dish. Drawing on his Southern roots, Parrett expertly crafts a menu that showcases both traditional and innovative chophouse fare. Guests can indulge in a variety of dishes featuring premium meats, fresh seafood and locally sourced ingredients, all meticulously prepared to highlight unique flavors and textures. Parrett’s commitment to creativity is evident in his incorporation of game meats, like elk and boar, offering a truly distinctive dining experience at HEW.

Choosing from the wide array of starters is no easy task, given the plethora of mouth-watering choices available, yet you’re guaranteed a delightful experience, regardless of your pick. The visually striking red and gold beet hummus pairs the vibrant hues of beets with the lush green of crispy brussel sprouts. For cheese lovers, the baked brie is a masterpiece of flavors and textures. Encased in a delicate puff pastry, the cheese oozes with warmth, its richness perfectly balanced by the sweetness of glazed apple and the nutty crunch of candied pecans. A sprinkle of pink peppercorn adds a subtle heat, beautifully complemented by the drizzle of sumac-infused honey, creating a symphony of flavors in every bite. Highlighting the appetizer selection is the braised octopus, a creative twist on the classic Patatas Bravas, featuring tender octopus atop crisp potatoes and garnished with a delicate chorizo foam, blending the flavors harmoniously.

HEW Parlor & Chophouse prides itself on presenting an adventurous selection of meats, including exotic choices like elk, coulotte and tomahawk steaks, to broaden diners’ culinary experiences. The standout dish is a succulent venison, expertly prepared with espresso beans and served in a sumptuous red wine cream sauce, alongside impeccably baked mac and cheese. Vegetarians will delight in the homemade pasta with a mix of wild mushrooms, such as king trumpet and lion’s mane, renowned for their health benefits including nerve development—proof that food can be both delicious and nourishing. Parrett infuses the menu with his Southern flair, evident in dishes like the beignets for dessert, elevated with a delectable date sauce.

HEW Parlor & Chophouse actively engages with the community, collaborating with Tarpon Culinary school students by offering them real-world culinary experience. They also host various events throughout the year, such as Movies on the Lawn and Jazz Brunches, inviting guests to check its schedule for upcoming festivities. To cap off the dining experience, visit the Hi-Fi Rooftop bar for breathtaking sunset views over the sound of gentle water ♦

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