Vermont’s restaurateurs display a passion for locally grown, artisanally produced ingredients. The list of restaurants below follows our route, starting in Manchester and ending in Burlington.
With dark wood floors, a coffered ceiling, wainscoting and wallpapered walls, this restaurant in the new Taconic Hotel in Manchester feels like an old New England tavern — but with an up-to-date menu. Delicious dishes from our meal included a plump crab cake with a roasted poblano aioli and pineapple chutney, and grilled swordfish with a sweet potato-crab hash. The lively bar has become a favorite gathering spot in Manchester.
The Copper Grouse
3835 Main Street, Manchester. Tel. (802) 362-0176
A small, cozy restaurant, Peasant brings to fruition the dream of Chris and Mary Ellen Alberti to create a place with all the comforts of home. I felt I did very well in ordering the house salad of mixed greens with kale and lardons and a lovely vermouth vinaigrette. And then, the simple but satisfying orecchiette pasta with pesto.
40 Bridge Street, Waitsfield. Tel. (802) 496-6856
Part of The Pitcher Inn, this is a sedate and stylish place with hardwood floors, widely spaced tables and subdued lighting. Although not sourced from Vermont, the soft-shell crab with lemon brown butter, pea purée and a radish-sprout salad turned out to be crisp perfection. For my main, I opted for the pan-roasted veal medallions with king oyster mushrooms, watercress and orzo with feta. The service is exceptional, as is the wine list.
275 Main Street, Warren. Tel. (802) 496-6350
Walking through the door, I was reminded of the small restaurants I loved going to in Northern California when the food revolution was just getting underway. Wood floors, open space, a long bar and smart young staff all contributed to a lively evening of great food. My starter of a green garlic soufflé came filled with Tarentaise cheese and fiddlehead ferns, all in a rich white wine-herb sauce. The main course of seared halibut with fingerling potatoes, Swiss chard and an orange-vanilla beurre blanc impressed me for its inventiveness — the halibut is rolled, seared and served upright — and for the interplay of flavors. And dessert, a Mason jar filled with vanilla pudding, whipped cream, chunks of bananas and Nilla wafers, was a taste time machine back to childhood.
91 Main Street, Stowe. Tel. (802) 253-2691
Topnotch Resort is not of Harper style, but I quite liked its restaurant, Flannel, with its expansive windows looking out over the pool to the ski slopes beyond. This is a pleasant place for a casual lunch. Surprised to see them on the menu, I ordered the conch fritters, which were crisp and tasty served with a smoky mango remoulade. The house club sandwich, with grilled chicken, avocado, smoked bacon and a roasted garlic mayonnaise, was notable.
4000 Mountain Road, Stowe. Tel. (802) 253-6445
I don’t believe I’ve ever written the word “roadhouse” in the Hideaway Report, let alone recommended one. Doc Ponds may be a roadhouse in form but not in essence, to which the many Mercedes, Audis, BMWs and Porsches in the parking lot will attest. Inside it provides casual, convivial fun, and the food is first-rate. The Beets & Brussels salad united two of my favorite vegetables with feta and spiced pecans, and the jerk pork chop with black beans and cabbage could not have been more succulent.
294 Mountain Road, Stowe. Tel. (802) 760-6066
Chef Eric Warnstedt has earned a stellar reputation at this handsome restaurant with a dark wood interior (he and partner William McNeil also own Doc Ponds). The menu changes frequently. Personal favorites include the hen of the woods mushroom toast with a poached egg and house-made bacon, and the rich paprika pappardelle with braised pork, wild leek sausage and zucchini.
Hen of the Wood
55 Cherry Street, Burlington. Tel. (802) 540-0534