DEVENS — Devens, named for Civil War Gen. Charles Devens, straddles the towns of Harvard, Ayer and Shirley. Located within a world of its own, its 4,000 acres experience business growth every year. A welcoming oasis of businesses, hotels and restaurants is nestled within a mature landscape of shady trees, open vistas, soccer fields, playgrounds and even its own Mirror Lake and golf course.
Open in early November, among the newest additions is the 118-room Hilton Garden Hotel, a True North Hotel. A flag inside the lobby spells out the hotel’s mantra: “Live, love and be happy.” The hotel is home nearly 3,000 square feet of banquet and meeting space (including a private fireplace and dining room that seats 18) and a full-service restaurant, The Great American Grill.
The hotel has spacious rooms, an indoor pool, a workout room and a gigantic lobby that shares space with the adjacent grill. There’s an open kitchen area that serves a breakfast buffet each morning, which is part of a cooked-to-order breakfast for $12.95. Offerings include omelets, sausage, home fries, thick-cut French toast, house-baked breakfast breads and pastries, fresh fruits, cereals, juices, yogurt and Starbucks coffee.
Each meal attracts guests from this hotel and from Springhill Suites next door. Locals have also claimed the restaurant as a new favorite.
Serena Moncousky, the food and beverage manager, joined the restaurant when it opened.
“I’m enjoying every minute with this fantastic team,” she said. “It has been a wonderful experience to welcome travelers from all over the world, as well as many locals who have discovered us. One of the most moving moments happened last January when close to 500 soldiers from Iraq returned home to their welcoming families who were waiting for them right here in the park in front of the hotel. We were able to set up complimentary food and beverages for our heroes and their loved ones. We all had tears in our eyes that night and it is a scene and experience none of us will ever forget.”
One of the bartenders, Tammy, showed off the surface of the “mood bar.” Embedded on the bar’s surface are small prism-like squares that change color and twinkle. The surface is called a “sensitile” terrazzo, which has built-in light-conducting channels imbedded directly under the bar’s surface. As a hand or drinks are placed on the bar, the little squares change color.
Sous Chef Brandon Gauthier shared some local purveys.
“This area has some amazing farms and food resources,” he said. “We work with Westfield Farm cheeses in Hubbardston, Northeast Harvest for our produce, and Captain Marden’s seafood.”
While the menu has several classic American favorites, daily specials often reflect flavors from other cuisines. Server and supervisor Billy Charron guided us toward a tasty group of dishes that included the butternut square tortellacci (like giant pasta purses) bathed in a Parmesan maple cream. The Maryland crab cakes (3) with their lemon aioli were almost the size of burgers.
But the star of the night was a bourbon steak, a juicy 10-oz flat-iron beauty garnished with fried onion rings. The fish and chips covered an oval platter and the maple carrots were sweetly vibrant. Charron surprised us with his two favorite desserts, a fresh-baked lemon cheesecake that was light and irresistible and a chilled three-layer chocolate mousse cake.
The Great American Grill, in the Hilton Garden Inn, 59 Andrews Parkway, Devens, 978-772-0600, open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner starting at 6 a.m.