though, was a defining industry in Stowe, so, politics be
damned, cranky Vermonters needed their animal trade.
Mansfield continues to dominate the town. It’s the highest
peak in the state and has given rise to the tourism on which
the area now thrives. Hikers, campers, and, especially, skiers
show up in their respective seasons; foliage draws tourists
in the fall.
humble and swanky Lodges flank the road to the mountain, but
in the center of the charming village sits the Green Mountain
Inn, one of the first structures listed on the National Register
of Historic Places, with an 1833 vintage building at its heart.
Other buildings have been added over the years, and the complex
now offers tasteful accommodations ranging from a single queen-sized
bed to a two-bedroom, multi-story townhouse—over 100 rooms
is the Whip, the lunch and dinner venue. “We’re not trying
to be a fine-dining restaurant,” says food and beverage director
Steven Truso. “There are other options for that in town. “We’re
providing comfort food that people who visit us year after
year can count on.” Truso spent several years as chef here
before assuming his present title and can still be seen flipping
omelets at brunch when it gets busy.
time of year we try to bring in as much locally grown produce
as possible,” Truso says. “All of our eggs are local, and
we’re able to get some of the greens year-round from nearby
greenhouse growers.” And, of course, maple syrup. The restaurant
buys out one local farmer’s entire crop of about 300 gallons
pork, steak, salmon: the menu is built around standards, with
only a few creative twists here and there on the specials
I started here as chef,” says Truso, “I tried to change things
around a little, and I took the corn chowder off the menu.
You wouldn’t believe the response—people wanted it, and it
went right back on the menu and has stayed there ever since.”
discovered, the corn chowder ($4.25/$5) is a perfect example
of a dish that breaks no culinary ground, but by being as
well-crafted a version of this dish as you’ll find—creamy,
rich, generously laced with corn and bacon—it offers what
I call a restful dining experience.
can be said of the turkey dinner ($19). “That’s been on the
menu for at least 25 years,” says Truso. “It’s one of our
staples.” It starts, not surprisingly, with Vermont turkey:
real slices of white meat layered over a traditional apple-sausage
pursuit of convenience has let us welcome an astonishing amount
of prefab crap into our kitchens. When you taste real gravy,
real cranberry sauce and real mashed potatoes, as you do with
this dinner, you realize how much true comfort you’ve sacrificed
in order to spend less time at the stove.
is divided into dining areas that give different views and
slightly different levels of intimacy, but all the tables
are comfortable, and you soon get used to being surrounded
by antique buggy whips.
a good wine selection, nightly wine specials, and a plethora
of Vermont microbrewed beer. A daily specials list supplements
the regular, seasonally changing menu.
fare menu includes burgers (Vermont cheddar, of course, is
available), in beef and vegetarian varieties, and a Reuben
with corned beef or turkey, all in the $9-$10 range. Grilled
flatbread pizza is $14 and changes daily, with a vegetarian
version always available. We sampled a flatbread-of-the-day
topped with rib-eye steak bits under a bubbling raft of mozzarella
and blue cheese, with its thin, crisp crust giving the illusion
that I could consume more of the delicious slices than proved
to be the case.
and salads can be worked into standalone meals: the Maine
crab cakes ($10.50) proved to be enough for my wife’s whole
dinner. They’re so rich with crab that the breading seemed
like almost an afterthought, and the accompanying basil aioli,
prepared with excellent olive oil, was served alongside fresh
too-familiar saloon concoction, artichoke and spinach dip
($9), sports large chunks of the hearts, set off with plenty
of garlic and the requisite spinach. So it’s not as creamy
as might be expected, but nevertheless dresses a pita chip
and gorgonzola fruit salad ($6.75/$10) combined two contrasting
fruit—strawberries and tomatoes—both at their peak freshness,
and shared space with chunks of cantaloupe and honeydew under
a lemon-mango vinaigrette.
can resist Vermont chevre ($9.25) as a starter? The creamy
goat cheese is warmed, presented over fresh greens, drizzled
with a Balsamic vinegar reduction, and served alongside garlic-dabbed
less-than-successful entrée I sampled was the jerk salmon
special ($21), which turned out to be little more than a blackened
piece of fish with a tangy fruit accompaniment. Re-fashioned
the following night as coconut and citrus-poached swordfish,
it had a better confluence of flavors.
of basmati rice and crisp beans were prepared just as they
should be. A request for mashed potatoes instead of rice with
the roasted Quebec duckling ($22) was not a problem; the duck
was served as two parts of a large half, with a deep, gooselike
flavor and a pineapple-ginger accompaniment.
attentive servers overlooked no detail and were a great help
in choosing our way through the best of the menu. I’ll pass
along one of their recommendations for a signature dessert:
sac de bon bon (for two) looks like some manner of
mousse arriving in a dark brown bag. But the bag is dark chocolate,
the mousse is classic, and the fruit sauce decorating the
plate is perfect to swipe not only the chocolate through but
also the many pieces of fresh fruit that finish the plate.