Food & Drink

Dining in Vermont is a unique and delicious experience. The farming roots of the state are apparent in today’s cuisine, as several restaurants are making a concerted effort to reconnect dining with the land. Even if you don’t consider yourself a “Farm to Table Foodie,” your tummy will be smiling when you choose the restaurant that suits you with Golden Stage Inn’s guide to dining in Vermont!

Vermont is also the top state in the nation for breweries per capita, and award-winning distilleries and wineries are popping up across the Green Mountain State. Be sure to grab some VT maple syrup while you’re here, we always have a supply at our bed and breakfast.


Holiday Dining in Vermont – how to avoid the crowds.

Here’s your guide on how to avoid the holiday crowds and eat on time during the rush.  Christmas and New Year’s Eve have passed, but MLK weekend is right around the corner, soon to be followed by President’s Day Week.  These holidays are by far the busiest times in Vermont ski towns such as Ludlow.  We hope these insider tips from local restaurants will help you out as you plan your dining this year!

Making Reservations

This is a great way to ensure your seat at a table without a wait, but there are a few tricks to making reservations, as well.  Some restaurants only take reservations for larger parties; for example, Stemwinder in Ludlow will only take reservations for groups of six or more.  Other restaurants might be booked for the holiday period far in advance.  The Downtown Grocery is a fine dining restaurant featuring local ingredients; if you want to try it out during the holiday season, call for a reservation immediately when planning your trip.  Another amazing locally-sourced dining experience is the Inn at Weathersfield.  While they welcome walk-ins, reservations are highly recommended during holidays and weekends, especially for large parties.

Stemwinder Restaurant Ludlow VT

A view of the Stemwinder bar from the upstairs seating!  Image from www.stemwindervt.com.

New Restaurants

Perhaps you can beat the holiday dining crowd – and the trends – by eating at a newly opened establishment.  There are a few new restaurants in the area that are worth a visit.

Homestyle Hostel offers a community dinner with homemade entrees every night at 7:00 pm.  They request advance notice of 24 hours if you’ll be joining them.  This is more of a family-style meal than a restaurant experience, but rest assured that the food is hearty and fresh, with friendly company.  There is also a coffee bar, open from 8 am to 8 pm, and beer and wine are served from noon to 8 pm.

Mojo Cafe is a really fun spot to check out.  The name of the restaurant was inspired by The Doors, and the orange interior is decked out with rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia.  The food is creative Tex-Mex fusion, offering tacos, Po’ Boys, gumbo, enchiladas and creative appetizers.  Order a local brew on tap or a glass of wine.  Mojo is open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner (closed between 2 pm and 4 pm).  While it is a new restaurant, word is getting out and the space is small, so ordering carry-out might be a safer path to take.  (For more on ordering take-out, see below!)

Finally, The Free Range in Chester, VT is a 20 minute drive from Golden Stage Inn, and is located right in the quaint village green.  This is more of your typical New England fare, open Wednesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner, with brunch served on Sundays.

homestyle hostel salad

A fresh salad from Homestyle Hostel in Ludlow, VT.  Image from homestylehostel.com.

Order Take-Out

If you’re staying at our bed & breakfast, you’ll already know how comfortable it is to eat at the Inn once you’ve had breakfast in the solarium.  Ordering take-out wouldn’t quite work when staying at a hotel or motel, but at our B&B, you are welcome to use the common spaces on the first floor whenever you like.  Place your take-out order with either of the innkeepers in the morning, and they’ll ensure your dinner will be ready for pick-up on time at the restaurant of your choice.  You may use our utensils and wine glasses to complete your dining experience.  There are a couple great places for take-out in the area, but as with reservations, your best bet is to call early.  If you don’t place your order in the morning with Mike and Julie, try calling ahead during lunchtime.  You’ll have time to head back to the Inn, take a hot shower and enjoy a bowl of homemade soup, and then pick up your supper by the time your belly starts to rumble!  Our Inn is BYOB, so grab a bottle of wine at Wine and Cheese Depot, or find beer and liquor at Singleton’s or Brewfest Beverage Company.

For a pizza night, place your order at Goodman’s American Pie early in the day.  Goodman’s is certainly the best pizza around, so during the holidays you should place your order before 4 pm.  Better yet, leave your order with Mike or Julie in the morning, and they’ll take care of placing the order for you (a great idea if you’re tearing up the slopes all day!).  After 4 pm, there is usually an hour wait time or more for a take-out pie.

As mentioned above, Mojo Cafe is a new spot featuring delicious Mexican, Southern and Cajun cuisine.  But the space is small, so ordering take-out is a great idea if you have a large party or don’t want to wait for seats or sit at a bar.

Other nearby places for take-out include Harry’s Cafe, Sam’s Steakhouse, Mr. Darcy’s, DJ’s, and The Killarney.  See our full list of Southern Vermont restaurants here, and peruse our dining guide in the sitting room when you arrive.

 

Christmas Eve Smorgasbord 2014

Each year, Golden Stage Inn decks the halls for Christmas Eve festivities.  Innkeeper Julie celebrates her Swedish heritage with her family, and all are invited to participate in the feast.  Appetizers and beverages start the evening off.  Traditional Swedish dishes are served in a buffet-style dinner, followed by an array of desserts.  It is truly an evening of light and laughter!  Guests are invited to participate for $25 per person.  Dinner is served around 7, but arrive earlier for appetizers and mingling!  For more information, please read 2013’s blog post about the Christmas Eve Swedish Smorgasbord at Golden Stage Inn.  Here are a few photos from last year’s Smorgasbord:

Swedish Smorgasboard with decor at the Golden Stage Inn

Swedish decorations and tablecloth.

Delicious almond cake and apple cake

Santa Lucia offers Swedish desserts of apple cake and almond cake.  “God Jul,” as the napkin says, is pronounced “Good Yule” and means Merry Christmas!

Black Rock Steakhouse: Restaurant Review

Black Rock Steakhouse is a fun night out in Springfield, Vermont.  Just a twenty minute drive from our bed and breakfast in Ludlow, a dinner at Black Rock pairs well with a movie in downtown Springfield or a visit to the VAULT art gallery.  While a dinner at Black Rock Steakhouse could work for any event, I especially find it fun for a family gathering.  This August during a family reunion, eleven of my family members enjoyed a dinner out together.

Black Rock steakhouse appetizer

The concept of Black Rock Steakhouse does indeed involve a black rock!

Among many appetizer and entree options, the main event is a selection of entrees delivered to you on a piping hot black rock.  These are mainly different kinds of steak and seafood.  The rock is super-heated (I think to around 400 degrees Farenheit, but don’t quote me on that!) so it is not recommended for children under 12.  That being said, this is an amazingly fun interactive experience!  You can cook your meal exactly the way you like.

Black Rock Steak entree

I ordered the seafood special with scallops and shrimp, and most of my relatives ordered steaks.  If you’re going for steak, the consensus seemed to favor the Argentinian and the Filet Mignon.

Black Rock Steakhouse scallops and shrimp

Above: scallops and shrimp ready to be cooked.  Below: scallops and shrimp ready to be eaten!

Black Rock steakhouse, Springfield VT

For dessert, my brothers and cousins ordered a chocolate fondue – another fun, interactive food that two or more people can enjoy.

To see the full Black Rock Steakhouse menu, see their website or check out the Golden Stage Inn Vermont dining guide, located in the fireside sitting room adjacent to the entryway.

Mushroom Hunting in Vermont

Mushroom hunting in Vermont proves fruitful!

Chanterelles (left) and lobsters (right) are just two of the delicious mushrooms found in the woods of Vermont.

Are you a fan of fungi?  Then Vermont’s the place to be this summer.

With one of the wettest Julys on record, Vermont’s mushrooms are fruiting to the fullest this summer!  Before you read on, please note that this blog post is not a mushrooming guide!  Eat and identify wild mushrooms at your own risk.

Lobster mushrooms are easy to spot when foraging.  Not only are they a similar color to a cooked lobster - but they also have a seafood aroma when cooked.

Lobster mushrooms are easy to spot when foraging. Not only are they a similar color to a cooked lobster – but they also have a seafood aroma when cooked.

Happy mushroom hunters are finding edible mushrooms such as chanterelles, oysters, lobster mushrooms, chicken-of-the-woods, and even the prized black trumpet.  Medicinal mushrooms can be found in Vermont as well, and include chaga, turkey tail, and reishi.

Can you spot the prized black trumpet amongst the leaves? Black trumpets are easy to miss - luckily grow in large numbers.  My favorite wild mushroom in Vermont!

Can you spot the prized black trumpet mushrooms amongst the leaves? Black trumpets are easy to miss – luckily, they grow in large numbers. By far my favorite wild mushroom in Vermont!

Love to eat mushrooms, but not a mushroom hunter yourself?

You don’t have to brave the woods (and that first-time-mushrooming fear).  Two grocery stores near Golden Stage Inn sell local mushrooms when available: The Jersey Girls’ Cafe & Market and the Springfield Co-Op.  You can also get your mushroom fix at a farm-to-table restaurant in the area, such as The Downtown Grocery, SoLo, or the Inn at Weathersfield.

Want to learn to identify wild mushrooms?

The Grafton Nature Museum is hosting a Mushroom Walk on the weekend of August 22nd!  The Grafton Nature Museum is about a half hour drive from Golden Stage Inn, and also puts on a fairy house exhibit with local artists on the last weekend of September.  But back to the ‘shrooms…

You can register to be on the waiting list for The Wild World of Mushrooms at the Grafton Nature Museum here.  Unfortunately both walks are already full, but hey, you never know!  Here’s a quick description of the event from the Grafton Nature Museum’s website:

“Ari Rockland-Miller will introduce participants to the Northeast’s safest and most distinctive gourmet and medicinal fungi, emphasizing his “ForageCast” strategy. Workshop participants will also discover how to best cook these fruits of the forest and will get a taste when our wild finds are served up right on the spot following our foray. Once you put on your forager’s eyes, your hikes will never be the same again!”

If you’re up for a further drive, check out more mushrooming workshops in Vermont from the Mushroom Forager here.  In addition to foraging, you can learn about growing mushrooms yourself!

 

Oyster mushrooms are one of the edible fungi you can cultivate yourself.

Oyster mushrooms are one of the edible fungi you can learn to cultivate yourself.

And just for fun(gi)…

What room has no doors, no walls, no floors, and no ceilings?

A mushroom!

 

Restaurant Review: The Downtown Grocery (Ludlow, VT)

The Downtown Grocery is less than 10 minutes from the Golden Stage Inn, and is located in the heart of Ludlow, Vermont.

We’d been hearing rave reviews from guests for some time, and decided it was time that Golden Stage Inn gave The Downtown Grocery a review of our own!  (We are far from food critics….but we are definitely food lovers all around.  Besides – what better excuse to go out do dinner than “It’s for work”?!)  Julie and Mike had dined there before, but I had only had a drink at the bar once last winter.  I’d really wanted something to eat, but the intimate restaurant was totally packed.  Downtown Grocery’s tables are usually completely booked, sometimes several weeks in advance during the busy ski season!  Naturally, I was dying to get a bite…

So this past week, I finally enjoyed a meal at the Downtown Grocery that defied my expectations.  My great-aunt and great-uncle were visiting, so my family wanted to treat them to a meal that would be memorable and eventful.  We sure got what we were asking for!

The hostess was enthusiastic, and our table was gorgeously placed at the intersection of two sunny windows.  Though the Downtown Grocery is a fine dining establishment, the atmosphere stays true to the name and is welcomingly laid back.  The restaurant consists of just two small rooms with plentiful sunlight streaming through the windows.  The menus strive to incorporate fresh, local ingredients as the season provides.  Each room has a full blackboard chalked up with seasonal specials – about five unique appetizers and entrees.  It is wonderful that there are so many specials because each dining experience will be unique.  However, I found it difficult to read the chalk board.  Although it is the size of a classroom blackboard, there are so many specials that the writing is very small, and not very clear in the first place.  Everyone in my family had to take turns standing awkwardly in the center of the small room to read the specials, which disturbed not only the flow of our dinner, but probably the peace of those around us as well.

Regardless, it is admirable how vast the array of fresh, local ingredients in Downtown Grocery’s menu can be.

Chef Rogan Lechthaler has quite the resume under his belt.  I respect that he came back to his Vermont origins to serve real food to real people (meaning, not celebrities and the grossly rich).  The Downtown Grocery is dining at its best, yet is connected to both the people, the land, and the original homemade processes that make fresh ingredients into good food.

From the drink menu, I had to order the Bees Knees cocktail, of course.  This drink includes orange and lemon juice with gin, plus a drizzle of hibiscus-infused honey.  (So bummed I didn’t take a picture! Guess I’ll just have to go back.)  It was quite refreshing, and not at all too sweet.  The appetizer was a tougher choice.  All the specials looked so inviting, but I chose to go with a classic – Maine mussels with shallot-dusted frites.  I think my mother made the best choice, however, with Coger Garden’s mesclun salad.  It came on a cutting board, with honey-drizzled Bijou cheese, herbed crostini and raspberries.  The greens themselves were artfully topped with an edible flower – Nasturtium.

As our meals arrived, I knew I’d made the right choice.  See below for the main event: pancetta-wrapped monkfish atop celeriac and chanterelle mushrooms!  My father and uncle ordered rabbit-wurst with sauerkraut.  I know it evoked their memories of growing up on farms eating suppers inspired by their German and Dutch heritage.

Downtown Grocery dinner ludlow VT

Here are pictures of two Downtown Grocery classics: ribeye with ‘lincoln log’ potatoes and a pimento burger with frites and house-made pickles & ketchup.  Try not to drool…too much, anyway.

Downtown Grocery Entree ludlow VT

 

Downtown Grocery entree

We’d saved room for dessert and tried a smattering of Downtown Grocery’s dessert offerings between the table.  I had vanilla creme brulée that was to die for…and definitely had a hard time sharing!  (Check out a picture of the creme brulée and other restaurant images here.)  Other desserts included chocolate souffle with espresso sauce and blueberry-peach cobbler.  Though delicious, these were both a little too heavy for me to enjoy at the end of such an elaborate meal.  I’d love to go back to try the cheese board.  For the honeybee enthusiasts out there, it comes with local honeycomb!  Additionally, the ice cream and sorbet flavors are ridiculously creative, and I believe almost all are house-made.  Those flavors that stood out to me were blueberry goat cheese, strawberry balsamic, watermelon mint and pineapple basil…

…you can bet I’ll be back!

Page 1 of 3123