Boston Restaurant Blog -- October, 2007
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
After two long years, I finally got back to Stowe for some leaf-peeping (though there wasn't much of it, as the fall foliage season in New England is late this year). And while we were in Stowe and the surrounding area, we got to a number of restaurants, most of which were very good.
We left the Boston area late on Friday morning, stopping in at the Farmer's Diner in Quechee, VT (just over the New Hampshire border), for lunch. Part of the Farmer's Diner is housed in a renovated Worcester dining car, while the rest of the diner is housed in what looks like an old barn. In keeping with Vermont's progressive ways, the Farmer's Diner serves food that is mostly from local farms and producers. In fact, the menu points out where many of the items came from. For instance, the wonderful portabello burger was on bread that came from the Colatina Bakery in Bradford, VT, while the cheese was from a local farm, and the tasty and hearty smokehouse club had Vermont bacon and cheese as well as tomatoes from Long Wind Farm in East Thetford, VT, and whole wheat bread from LaPanciata Bakery in Northfield, VT. As would be expected, the food was fresh and healthy, and the slightly higher price for the food was well worth it.
After lunch, we jumped back on the highway and arrived in Stowe in mid-afternoon (after a quick stop at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury Center). We spent some time around Smuggler's Notch before heading to a longtime favorite of mine for dinner. The Shed is in some ways the ultimate Stowe dining spot, as it is wildly popular with skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer. And one reason for its popularity is its terrific microbrews. We tried a couple of beer samplers, which included six different handcrafted beers, all of which were great, then ordered a hot open-faced turkey sandwich and a barn burger, both of which were as tasty as ever. The barn burger is a larger version of the Shed burger, both of which are marinated in beer and served on English muffins. The beer really brings out the flavor of the burger and is definitely worth ordering if you are a meat eater. After we finished our meals, we split a sinfully good dessert before heading back to Smuggler's Notch for the evening.
On Saturday morning, we stopped by Peggy's Cookin' Roadhouse Cafe in Jeffersonville for breakfast. Peggy's Cookin' Roadhouse Cafe, used to be Jana's Cupboard for years when I was making the annual trip to Smuggler's Notch, but based on our dining experience at Peggy's, not much has changed (good food cheap, but slow service). The farmer's breakfast was a good bargain, and the Smuggler's Vermont Toast (basically French toast with cinnamon sugar and a slightly spicy batter) was delicious. But as mentioned, the service was slow, so slow in fact that we decided against going back the next day (more on where we went later).
We spent the morning looking for foliage along the back roads of Jeffersonville, Cambridge, Johnson, Hyde Park, and Stowe, finally stopping for a late lunch at the Austrian Tea Room at the Trapp Family Lodge high above Stowe Village. We grabbed a table on the back deck and gawked at the spectacular views below until the waited came by to take our order. We started with a tremendous alpine mushroom and onion soup, then moved onto our main dishes, which were a tasty roast beef sandwich with horseradish mayonnaise and a delicious knockwurst plate that included traditional warm potato salad and sauerkraut. We were full after finishing our plates, but just had to go for one of the Austria Tea Room's famous desserts. And was it ever worth it; the black forest cake, which I hadn't had there since I was a child, was unforgettable, with chocolate cake layered with chocolate whipped cream and tart cherries, and topped with whipped cream and shaved dark chocolate. The photo here doesn't do the cake justice; you have to try it for yourself to believe how good it is.
After that bit of food heaven, we spent the next few hours relaxing around the Smuggler's Notch area, and I took a walk along the trails of Smuggler's Notch Village to try to work off the black forest cake. Later in the evening, we wound our way through Smuggler's Notch and back into Stowe, where we had an excellent dining experience at the Foxfire Inn, which is located on Route 100 about a mile north of Stowe Village. The atmosphere at the Foxfire represents old New England at its best, with oil lamps, crooked floors, and lots of dark wood. The menu, however, tilts closer to Italian cuisine, with a number of veal, chicken, and pasta dishes offered. We ordered the spaghetti pesto (very nice, but not quite enough garlic and oil) and the chicken rollatine (outstanding dish with delicious eggplant, prosciutto, and cheese and served in a white wine mushroom sauce). We skipped dessert, as there was no way that any pastries offered would match the one at the Austrian Tea Room, and headed back to the Village at Smuggler's Notch.
Sunday morning came too quickly, and it was time to head back to Boston. We drove to Jeffersonville on the way out, opting for a place called 158 Main this time around. It turned out to be a great choice, as both the food and the service were excellent at this cozy dining spot in the center of the village. 158 Main is housed in an historic building, with hanging lights, ceiling fans, hardwood floors, and old wooden booths. We sat in one of the booths and ordered a couple of interesting items; the French toast was flavored with Grand Marnier and vanilla beans and was actually made with homemade baguettes, while the grilled maple bread almost sent my body into shock, as the griddled cinnamon raisin bread was topped with an impossibly rich maple glaze. It was all very fine, and the home fries that we ordered were also excellent, with chili powder and other spices added to the potatoes.
I will probably be eating nothing but fruits and veggies for the rest of this week, but it was certainly worth sampling some of the best that Vermont had to offer over the weekend. I'll be looking forward to my next trip to Vermont, with the particular hope of stopping by the Austrian Tea Room once again to try some of their other incredible-sounding pastries.
Just a quick note about 158 Main in Jeffersonville; I have been traveling back and forth between Boston and Vermont over the past couple of weeks, and was able to try 158 Main two more times, including one time for dinner. The verdict? Both meals were terrific, and I really got a feel for the uniqueness of the place. Stay tuned, as a featured review on 158 Main may be forthcoming.
Posted on 10/9/07
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