A severe case of cabin fever led me to an impromptu short weekend in Brattleboro, determined to have some good food even if I had to leave a lot on my plate due to eating restrictions. It is pretty much a straight shot out Route 2 (which is such a pretty ride for most of the way). Two hours for me unless I happen to be heading out in a nor’easter with greatly reduced visibility. It had been ages since I spent any time in this particular part of the world. Brattleboro has certainly had a rise in its fortunes during that time!
Saturday dinner at Peter Havens. Since I had no reservation and knew it was small I was waiting on their doorstep when they opened at 5:30 to grab a seat at the bar. I needn’t have worried, the bar didn’t fully fill up for another hour or so. Very comfortable bar and restaurant with about 10 or 12 tables. Lots of known-by-name regulars. Pleasantly gregarious bartender and friendly folks at the bar. I wanted virtually everything on the menu which I don’t often experience. I started with the Caesar salad with duck confit. Above average in all respects including the croutons which are often the weakest part of that salad. For my main I went with the roasted pheasant – with that menu it was not an easy choice but I very rarely see pheasant so that was the deciding factor. It was gorgeously plated and perfectly roasted, complemented by a quite piquant and delicious sauce chasseur, some excellent mashed potatoes and nice true baby carrots and haricots verts. The bartender selected a California pinot that worked perfectly with it. Slightly embarrassing to leave as much as I had to on both plates but so be it. I had a wonderful time there.
Sunday breakfast saw me at Chelsea Royal Diner, a slightly run-down but comfortable diner with super nice waitstaff. I had the excellent Brattleboro Benedict – roasted tomatoes and crispy local bacon with really good hollandaise, eggs poached perfectly. The grass-fed local burger and house-made fries at the next table looked and smelled amazing and my waitress said they are all that. Breakfast or lunch all day, worth the short drive down the highway from Brattleboro.
The main goal on Sunday was to visit Scott Farm Orchard to get heirloom apples and see the amazing stonework that is part of The STONE Trust, located at the farm. For all of us city folk, let it be known that the last mile of the road winding along the mountain to the farm is dirt (or the day after a nor’easter, mud) optimistically sign-posted at 25 MPH. The farm itself was incredibly beautiful and the stonework was simply stunning. I got 4 kinds of apples (Hidden Rose, D’Arcy Spice, Esopus Spitzenberg, and Northern Spy) and several cheeses. So far I have only tried the Hidden Rose which is pale yellow-green on the outside with amazing rosy pink flesh. Very tasty, very tart. I highly recommend visiting this farm, there is loads of room for spring onions to run around and a bunch of picnic tables, including one surrounded by a gorgeous stone wall.
Back in Brattleboro I browsed a bunch of cute galleries and stores, then hit the Brattleboro Co-Op for more local food items. What a fabulous market! I would be so happy if that was my regular store (feel the same way about the Co-Op in Hanover, NH). I stocked up on a bunch of Vermont cheeses, including a wedge of Harbison from Jasper Hill, a name I remembered from the Boston Public Market thread. Boy was that an amazing cheese and it went so well with a World-Series winning ball game!!!
I had a very late lunch at the Whetstone Restaurant and Brewery, situated below Main Street right on the river. There is a gorgeous view from the bar but infernally uncomfortable seating. That may be by design to keep those seats turning over and it sure seemed to work despite the funny and engaging bartenders. Most everyone else was enjoying flights of the brewery’s beer. All the food I saw looked good. I had a very good bratwurst and good German potato salad. Did not care much for the bites I had of the sauerkraut and braised red cabbage that came with it. The wings I saw down the bar looked out of this world. Would go back for those wings.
Altogether a great day and a half and cabin fever is at bay for the time being. Looking forward to my farm-raised chicken legs with VT organic gold potatoes tonight!