Below is a transcript of a live online panel discussion on New England restaurants worth checking out while on fall foliage trips that took place on Thursday, September 23, 2010. The panel included RichardPF of the Passionate Foodie (http://passionatefoodie.blogspot.com), Eric of VisitingNewEngland.com (http://visitingnewengland.com/), MichellePC of theeconomicaleater.com (http://www.theeconomicaleater.com/), and blogger and fellow food tripper Rich O (http://richosravings.blogspot.com ). The hour-long chat included talks with the panel on restaurants found in several parts of New England that are popular with leaf-peepers, followed by viewer participation on each topic. [Note: The original discussion can be replayed at the following link: http://www.hiddenboston.com/online-discussion2-0910.html and please go to the restaurant discussions link to check out our other chats.]
Marc H. (hiddenboston): Hello, all, and welcome to a discussion on New England restaurants that are good places to check out while on fall foliage trips!
Marc H.: This is our fifth discussion, and once again, we have some people on our panel who you might know. Now is probably a good time for the panel members to introduce themselves, actually. I'll start off--I'm Marc, the founder and owner of Boston's Hidden Restaurants and the news-based blog Boston Restaurant Talk.
Rich O: I'm Rich, friend and food trip co-pilot to Marc.
RichardPF: Hello all, I am @RichardPF, the Passionate Foodie (http://passionatefoodie.blogspot.com)
Eric Hurwitz: I'm Eric, editor and publisher of VisitingNewEngland.com -- a locally-produced site about New England travel. Thanks for having me here. Great concept, the panel discussion!
Marc H.: Thanks for being on the panel! Before we start, I just want to point out that the format is the same as the previous discussion, as we will address each topic--in this case, a region of New England that is good for leaf-peeping, and restaurants that are in that area--first with the panel, followed by questions and answers from all of you viewers who are out there.
Marc H.: One note--once again, we are concentrating on lesser-known restaurants, so while places such as the Maine Diner in Wells, ME, and the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, MA, are great choices, they wouldn't really apply to this conversation. I'll give one example of a spot that might be included in today's talk; Grumpy's in East Dennis, MA, which is a great breakfast and lunch place on Route 6A that is frequented mostly by locals, and which happens to be on one of the most scenic roads in all of New England. Also, it would be nice to concentrate on classic roadside spots, such as diners, restaurants within inns, snack shacks, and little mom-and-pop places.
Marc H.: So why don't we start out with an area of New England that is very popular for leaf-peeping, namely the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Some of the towns in this region include North Conway, Lincoln, North Woodstock, Jackson, Glen, and Conway, and some of these communities have lots of dining options, but in the case of, say, North Conway, a number of them are very well known and are often packed. Are there some lesser-known spots in the White Mountains that are good options?
Rich O: Ah...be remiss not mentioning the Pizza Barn in Centre Ossipee. Not hidden but a must stop. But a lesser known spot I always stop at is Terris Place in Tamworth. North Shore style roast beef. And for breakfast, yesterdays in Jackson (can you tell I was just there)
Marc H.: I've never heard of the place in Tamworth. North Shore style roast beef is always a good thing!
Rich O: Yes, there is another one a mile away called Boston's Best. Not as good tho. And...the Shannon Door. Bar pie excellence.
Marc H.: I'm going to jump in on this one and mention a spot that is on the northern edge of the White Mountains. It is called Grandma's Kitchen, and it is on Route 3 in Whitefield. Classic roadside restaurant in the middle of the woods, and great sandwiches and comfort food at incredibly cheap prices.
Rich O: Not familiar with Whitefield.
Marc H.: It's pretty far up, heading toward Canada.
Eric Hurwitz: Not terribly far from the towns you mention is the Littleton Diner in downtown Littleton. Classic diner where you can get very good comfort food in a friendly but no-frills atmosphere. They make a great foot-long hot dog as well as ample club sandwiches. Littleton, by the way, has a fantastic, Mayberry RFD-like downtown, which includes a movie theater and Chutters -- which has the world's longest candy counter at about 112 ft. long!
Marc H.: I think the Littleton Diner recently received a Yankee Magazine Editor's Choice award. Pretty sure it was for 2010.
Rich O: I also have a lot of place in the White Mountains I would NOT recommend but that's a discussion for another time.
Marc H.: I do, too, but yes, I won't mention them here. I agree about the Shannon Door Pub in Jackson, by the way. Nothing like bar pizza and a beer in the mountains of New Hampshire....
Marc H.: So let's turn this over to our viewers. Do you have any favorite restaurants in the White Mountains of NH that are a bit under the radar?
Mmmm Ouzza: Bobby's Girl Diner near Meredith is a fun diner to grab a bite.
Marc H.: I think Bobby's Girl Diner may have closed? Has anyone heard if it reopened? It was in a nice location right on the southern edge of the White Mountains, making it a great option for leaf-peeping both in the mountains and in the nearby Lakes Region of the state. Hopefully something moved into its spot.
Leaf Peeper: Not sure how well known to most people but the Thompson House Eatery is one of my favorite spots for a finer dining experience. - Located in Jackson.
Marc H.: Thompson House is one of my personal favorites, and it's not all that well known, actually. Great atmosphere!
Rich O: If you're up on a Sunday the Red Fox has a pretty good breakfast buffet.
Marc H.: Let's move on to another section of New England that is popular during fall foliage season, and with this one, a particular road cuts through the entire region, namely Route 100 in the Green Mountains of Vermont. There are lots of little hidden gems on or near this scenic roadway, including some in Stowe, Waitsfield, Ludlow, and Wilmington. Any favorites along Route 100?
Rich O: Does Cold Hollow Cider Mill count? Good donuts.
Marc H.: Probably not a hidden gem, but some of the best apple cider donuts I've had.
RichardPF: Well, not on route Rt 100, but just off Rt.89 on Rt. 4 is the Farmers Diner in Quechee. Excellent breakfast and lunch. A good way to start your drive into VT.
RichardPF: And just down from the Farmer's Diner, a relatively new place, is the Shepard's Pie By The Gorge. They make a killer Shepard's pie!
Marc H.: I've been to the Farmer's Diner as well. Excellent portabello burgers there.
Rich O: Isn't Quechee where that Simon Pearce place is? Great food and glass blowing? Never been but hear it's cool.
Marc H.: Yes, I plan to check that out soon, Rich.
Eric Hurwitz: I'd like to add that the Farmer's Diner utilizes a lot of locally sourced food (including organic). Nice that a diner-type place can do this!
RichardPF: Good point Eric. They even have a map inside indicating the sources of all their local ingredients.
Rich O: I agree Eric.
MichellePC: Hi all! I'm just joining in - so happy to be here. I've heard of the Farmer's Diner before, but never been. I'll always support a local place that utilizes local food!
Marc H.: Hi, Michelle! Welcome to the panel! Feel free to introduce yourself!
MichellePC: Thanks, Marc! I'm a local food writer and blogger - my blog is www.theeconomicaleater.com
Marc H.: Thanks, Michelle. Nice to have you on board! We had been talking about restaurants in the White Mountains earlier, if you have any to add.
MichellePC: Muddy Moose and Moat Mountain Smokehouse & Brewing Co. - both in North Conway. Muddy Moose is pub fare but kid-friendly, and Moat Mountain makes their own brews, and has awesome hummus appetizer.
Rich O: Never been to Muddy but love MOAT.
Eric Hurwitz: By the way, Janice Brown, of the Fussy Diner, has a great review of Simon Pearce at http://thefussydiner.blogspot.com/2009/08/quechee-vermont-simon-pearce-restaurant.html. Never been, but after reading this review, I look forward to trying it out.
Rich O: Any family friendly spots you can mention up that way Eric?
RichardPF: For decadence, Farmers Diner has hotdogs, wrapped in bacon, and then deep fried.
Rich O: Richard...you call it decadence, I call it lunch ;-)
RichardPF: Rich, then you better add some Loaded Cheese Fries too. :)
Marc H.: I'm going to mention a couple of spots along/near Route 100 that I like--Pie in the Sky in Stowe, which has classic thin-crust pizza, and The Hatchery further south in Ludlow that is a great breakfast place and a local hangout that gives you a real flavor of the town.
Marc H.: Let's open this up to our viewers. Any favorite restaurants along or near Route 100 in Vermont? Any spots around Killington, Stowe, Warren, Mount Snow, etc.?
Foodgeek: 158 Main in Jeffersonville, VT has amazing breakfast options, including grilled maple toast.
Marc H.: Foodgeek, that grilled maple bread topped with maple ganache at 158 Main is outstanding stuff. although it pretty much kills the rest of the day, it has so many calories.
MichellePC: Ooo, grilled maple toast sounds fantastic!
Eric Hurwitz: I was always partial to Gracie's when it was located on Main St. in Stowe. It is now on Mountain Rd. They have fantastic homemade soups, amazing fries, oversized sandwiches, burgers and plenty of yummy sweets. They also have an extensive children's menu as I recall.
Rich O: Oh, cheese fries are just assumed! If it was a bit further up I'd demand poutine.
Marc H.: Yes, lots of little-known poutine places in Montreal. Another topic for another day!
Marc H.: Any other picks for Route 100 in the Green Mountains of Vermont? If not, we'll move on....
Foodgeek: Is Harrison's still in Stowe? I enjoyed a super cheesy Lobster Mac n Cheese there.
Marc H.: Harrison's is definitely still around.
Rich O: Where will our food journey take us next...
MichellePC: Not sure if someone already mentioned this, but Fire Stones in Quechee is supposed to be good - has flatbreads, prime rib, seafood, etc.
Marc H.: Queechee definitely seems to have several good dining spots.
Marc H.: Let's head a little closer to Boston. Route 6A on Cape Cod is a terrific place to go during the fall, as the entire road is ablaze in color toward the end of October. And there are a lot of good restaurants along the road, including some that are not really known at all. Any picks for this area?
Rich O: Cobies in Brewster. Great food and ice cream.
Marc H.: Brewster is a real treasure trove of good places, including one of my favorite farm stands--Satucket Farm. I also like JT's Seafood, which is right on Route 6A in the center of Brewster.
MichellePC: Scargo Cafe is quaint and has some great fare, like burgers, salads, oysters and awesome sweet potato fries!
Marc H.: Scargo Cafe is in Dennis, right? Near the Playhouse?
Rich O: Not sure if it's still there...and not my kind of place...but my family who lives in Brewster swears by Chillingsworth.
Marc H.: Chillingsworth is not a hidden gem, but yes, it is one of the best restaurants on the Cape.
Rich O: Yea, hard to keep anything on 6A hidden.
Eric Hurwitz: The aforementioned Grumpy's in Dennis is really fantastic and everything you'd want in a roadside Cape Cod restaurant: an informal light-and-breezy feel, salt-of-the-earth waitresses, freshly made food and... delicious homemade muffins that make me want to go back there right now.
Marc H.: How about some spots on the western end of Route 6A, in Barnstable, Sandwich, and Bourne? One that I like is the Sagamore Inn near the Bourne/Sandwich line. It's a really homey place that attracts a lot of the locals.
Marc H.: And let's open this up to our viewers now, as we are about 10 minutes away from the end of the discussion. Any favorites along or near Route 6A?
MichellePC: The British Beer Co. has a location in Sandwich. I've been to the one in Framingham, and it's awesome. The baked brie is my favorite!
Marc H.: And while the other BBCs seem to be very popular and packed all the time, the one in Sandwich has a rather out-of-the-way feel to it. Great selection of beers.
Eric Hurwitz: How about the Marshland Restaurant on Route 6A in Sandwich? They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner (and are famous for stuffed Quahoag), offer a lot of delicious baked goods, and have really friendly service. They have been around forever. I guess you could call it a local landmark. But they don't rest on their laurels (or Hardys) --last time I was there, the food was terrific!
Rich O: Most of my Cape days are a blur and weekends seemed to have started and ended at the Egg and I.
Marc H.: There are so many sections of New England that we could cover for this time of year, but sadly, we are almost out of time. For our last area, why don't we talk about Route 1 in Maine? So many towns along this road are great for fall foliage viewing, including York, Ogunquit, Kennebunkport, Wiscasset, Camden, Belfast, and just off the road, Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. Any hidden gems in any of these places that would be good stops while leaf-peeping?
Rich O: On a convoluted trip from the White Mountains to Bar Harbor we stopped at Rickey's Diner in Bridgton, ME. Graet breakfast.
Marc H.: I'll name a spot near Route 1--The Ramp in Cape Porpoise (just outside of Kennebunkport). The ride to Cape Porpoise is a beautiful one, and The Ramp is a creaky old restaurant and bar that has a real seafaring feel to it. And its location at the end of a dead end road overlooking the water is tough to beat.
Rich O: Oh, and so not hidden but so good...Flo's in Cape Neddick ME.
Marc H.: Since we're almost out of time, would any of our viewers like to give their picks for restaurants anywhere along Route 1 in Maine?
grover: Looking for the best breakfast in New England Try Penny Cluse or Johnny Boys in Vermont while peeping those leafs.
Marc H.: For the record, I believe Johnny Boy's is somewhere around Killington, and Penny Cluse Cafe is in Burlington.
Eric Hurwitz: The Daily Grind in downtown York Beach is really a good hidden gem. They have nice sandwiches with a bit of a creative flair, a good variety of coffee, gelato and baked goods. Seating includes a living room area with couches!
Rich O: By the way, as this wraps up, I'm not a food blogger but I have a blog. If you have 5 minutes to waste http://richosravings.blogspot.com
Marc H.: Since we're winding down, would any of you on the panel--or any of our viewers--like to mention your personal favorite areas to do fall foliage road trips? Mine are probably Route 100 in Vermont (especially areas around Weston and Stowe) and Route 16 in New Hampshire (from Jackson northward toward Maine).
Eric Hurwitz: I agree with you, Marc. the sections of Rts. 100 and and 16 are simply spectacular. I also like the "Quiet Corner of Connecticut in the northeast section. Classic New England towns like Woodstock, Pomfret and Brooklyn make the fall colors that much better. I'd also like to add that I just published a free online New England Fall Foliage Travel newsletter at http://www.visitingnewengland.com/NewEngland-Fall-Vacation-Newsletter-2010. Enjoy!
Marc H.: Well, it looks like our time is up. Thanks to those of you who were on today's panel, and thanks to the viewers out there! We'll be doing another discussion soon--by the way, if you have any ideas for panel topics, feel free to contact me, thanks!
Rich O: Thanks for moderating Marc. Back to the grind. Thanks everyone.
Eric Hurwitz: Thanks, Marc, had a lot of fun and enjoyed the panel and guest feedback!