The Way To An Attendee's Heart ...

(Originally published October 10, 2005)

Somerset, N.J. — The newly opened Palace at Somerset Park is quickly making a name for itself among conference centers by offering haute cuisine and a unique dining experience.

The day conference center (i.e., no lodging) appeals to planners because of three spacious ballrooms — one of them dedicated to dining — and ample outdoor entertaining space. But conference attendees may be more interested in the dinner menu than where they will be eating.

Chefs John Halligan and Walter Leffler run the Palace's well-equipped, 9,000- square-foot kitchen. The smells coming out of it can make most anyone salivate, with dishes including morel mushroom tempura with truffle mayonnaise; crispy smoked duckling with soba noodle cake and soy ginger sauce; and their signature "Warm Chocolate Nirvana"with pistachio ice cream and bittersweet chocolate sauce.

Conferences can even have a themed luncheon, with popular choices being Le Brasserie, The New Yorker and Americana.

For intimate gatherings, the Chef's Dinning Room overlooks the large kitchen through a glass front. There, up to 16 guests can watch their meals get cooked.