Boston Restaurant Blog -- October, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
About this time last year, I spent a couple of days in the Ludlow, Vermont area, checking out the fall foliage and trying a few restaurants. This past Columbus Day weekend brought about a similar trip, with one more day added on, a handful of dining spots (most of which did not overly impress, actually), and side trips to a few cheese places (more on that later).
First, a quick note on a few places we returned to--we did try some restaurants for the first time, but also hit some "repeats," including The Farmers Diner in Quechee (slow service, inedible French onion soup, decent grilled cheese and bacon, and very good deep-fried bacon-wrapped hot dogs); the Pot Belly Pub and Restaurant in Ludlow (friendly service, excellent ham, cheese, and asparagus sandwich, terrific meat loaf, good entertainment); and The Hatchery, also in Ludlow (perhaps the best meal of the trip, with outstanding house made corned beef hash, delicious cinnamon French toast, and hearty home fries with perfectly cooked onions). We also tried to return to Alice's Restaurant in Chester, but it was closing up for the night. And now on to some "first-time" restaurants....
On Sunday morning, we headed into the center of Ludlow to have a quick breakfast at Trappers, which is technically not a new restaurant for me, actually, since I had been to for lunch a number of years back. It is a classic breakfast and lunch spot, with a U-shaped counter in the middle of the main room, lots of Vermont-based memorabilia along the walls, and a large, goofy-looking moose in a flannel shirt on one side of the room. To the left of the main section of Trappers is another slightly smaller dining room. We sat up at the counter in the main room and ordered some basic breakfast items, including a good version of French toast (though The Hatchery's was much better), corned beef hash that was a bit mushy, eggs, and home fries that looked a bit shriveled but tasted pretty good. Service was a little slow at times, and it seemed as though they weren't quite prepared for the crowds that were there for the long weekend. Prices were very reasonable, just as I recalled from my last time there. I would say that The Hatchery (which is next door) seems to have better food, but Trappers is a decent spot with a bit more of a classic greasy spoon atmosphere than that of its neighbor.
After checking out some foliage and a farmers' market in nearby Belmont, we drove through the beautiful central lakes region north of Ludlow, ending up in Bridgewater where we stopped at Ramunto's Brick and Brew Pizza. Probably the best part of Ramunto's is the atmosphere, as it is housed in an old mill building with tons of character, including wooden floors, exposed pipes along the ceiling, and lots of nooks and crannies. Our pepperoni pizza was billed as New York style, though it was thicker than what I am used to in the Big Apple and the crust was doughy and had little in the way of taste, while the tomato sauce was slightly sour and rather acidic. The beer selection at Ramunto's was quite impressive, however, and we enjoyed some great local brews, including a Long Trail Blackberry Wheat and a very mellow Long Trail Harvest. Service was good overall, and the prices were not too bad, especially considering the size of the pizza.
Sunday afternoon was spent mostly in Woodstock and Plymouth, and, eventually, Chester in the evening. We had toyed with the idea of returning to Alice's Restaurant in the center of Chester, but since it was closing for the night we ended up at the Fullerton Inn, which is on the other end of the small but attractive business district. The Fullerton Inn is an elegant country inn that is housed in a beautiful structure from the late 1800s. The inn includes a rather basic-looking tavern as well as a quiet, comfortable dining room, which is where we had our dinner. And the dinner was a good one, with the corn bread with cranberries and walnuts being a great start to our meal, and the flaky fig and mascarpone purses with sliced tart apples and sweet pomegranate molasses was a nearly perfect appetizer. Our meals were generally very good; the panko-crusted veal schnitzel had a spicy whole-grain mustard sauce, and the veal was mostly tender, though there were a couple of tough sections within it, while the panko-crusted chicken contained a savory bacon and broccoli stuffing and a creamy maple sauce. Beers included a Rock Art Red Ale and an Otter Creek Brown Ale, both of which were very satisfying. We did have a dessert, but it was disappointing, as the house made pumpkin cheese cake had almost no pumpkin flavor at all. Service was about as good as we had on the entire trip, and the prices, while a bit high, were not outrageously so.
On our way out of Vermont early Monday afternoon, we made a stop at a place I've been wanting to go to for a long time--the White Cottage Snack Bar in Woodstock. Situated on the banks of the Ottauquecheee River just west of town, the White Cottage Snack Bar is a roadside snack shack where diners order at the counter in front and wait for their name to be called. The restaurant has outdoor picnic tables along the river as well as more picnic tables in two separate indoor patio areas (we ate in the indoor patio to the left, with views of the river). We happened to hit it on the last day of the season for them, so they were starting to pack things up while we were there. While the food at the White Cottage was pretty basic (decent burger, hot dog, and fries, and cornmeal-battered onion rings that had a nice crunch but were rather bland), this is a real slice of Americana that you just don't find too much of in the Boston area. And the views of the river alone made this place a memorable spot that also marked the end of our trip to Vermont.
I did want to add a quick side note on a few cheese places that we checked outon the trip. We went to a total of three cheese factories, including two of the oldest in America (Crowley Cheese in Mount Holly and the Plymouth Cheese Factory in Plymouth) as well as a cheese and maple place whose spectacular hillside location has to be seen to be believed (Sugarbush Farm in Woodstock). My favorite cheese was the Plymouth Cheese from the Plymouth Cheese Factory (word is, Julia Child loved it as well), though the aged cheddars from the other two places and the sage cheese from Sugarbush Farm were also excellent. Perhaps the most interesting building of the three was that of Crowley Cheese (see photo), with its rustic overall feel and its scenic location in the middle of some of the most pristine farmland in Central Vermont.
It was another nice trip to the Ludlow area, and while no restaurants really stood out this time around, we did enjoy some good meals (and excellent cheese!). It looks like more trips to Vermont may be in the works, so expect some more posts on restaurants in the Green Mountain State over the coming months.
Related Blog Entries: Vermont restaurants
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