Destination Dining

By Alexandra Hall | Boston Magazine |

SEASONS

Watch Hill, RI
> Miles from Boston Common: 99
> Average meal price per person: $
> Meal on a scale of 1 to 10: 7.5

There’s an upstairs-downstairs thrill in sitting at the open kitchen’s counter seats in the Ocean House inn’s restaurant. Hearing the sous yell “Pig!” just before a team of waiters arrives to collect pork tenderloin only enhances the flavor when your portion gets to the table. The same intimacy pervades everything here. These guys do “farm-to-table” right, with a staff “food forager” who sources the freshest meats — like the grass-fed beef (pictured right) — daily from local farms. Entrée choices always include day-boat seafood from the Watch Hill docks; meanwhile, the seaside village boasts a carousel and boutiques that make for lovely browsing before dinner or after dessert (which often includes honeycombs from the inn’s own hives). One Bluff Ave., 401-584-7000, oceanhouseri.com.

TWIN FARMS

Barnard, VT
> Miles from Boston Common: 152
> Average meal price per person:$$$$
> Meal on a scale of 1 to 10: 10.0

Twin Farms would be one of Boston’s toughest reservations were it moved from its idyllic mountainside setting to the city. Reservations are unavailable if you’re not a guest at the inn — and room rates hover somewhere in the stratosphere. Thankfully, though, so does the food. With no set menu and a bounty of local food artisans just past his back door, chef Ted Ask churns out mind-blowing cuisine (like hen croquettes over barley-walnut salad; or apple, onion, and cheddar gratins) to just 10 or 20 diners a night. A splurge? Absolutely, but you’re worth it. 452 Royalton Tpke., 800-894-6327, twinfarms.com.

WHEATLEIGH

Lenox, MA
> Miles from Boston Common: 131
> Average meal price per person: $$
> Meal on a scale of 1 to 10: 8.0

The old-school opulence of Wheatleigh’s twinkling façade stands in stark contrast to the hotel’s cool, modern dining room, where chef Jeffrey Thompson executes his labors of love in the scenic shadow of Tanglewood. Look for expertly prepared dishes on the four-course menu (there’s a chef’s tasting available, too), including light-as-air Parmesan gnocchi with root vegetables and hints of maitake mushroom; moist guinea hen bolstered by rich black trumpets; and a dry-aged rib-eye so tender, you hardly need a knife. The surprise kicker, though, isn’t so much the roster of delightful desserts, but the epic and magnificently curated cheese trolley — it’s a dream team of the world’s best. Hawthorne Road, 413-637-0610, wheatleigh.com.

WINVIAN

Morris, CT
> Miles from Boston Common: 133
> Average meal price per person:  $$
> Meal on a scale of 1 to 10: 9.5

 
Guests at this ultra-exclusive country resort — a restored 19th-century farmhouse in the rolling countryside of the Litchfield Hills — seem to speak in hushed tones. That may be in reverence for the artful plates constructed by chef Chris Eddy. He has a true gift for balancing ingredients both familiar (truffles, local trout) and exotic (sea urchin, squid ink) so that each somehow stands out on its own while simultaneously contributing to a gloriously unexpected whole. With table service that’s both precise and welcoming, and a wine list that pulls from 13 countries and 37 regions, the argument for lingering over a postprandial drink is as compelling as the food itself. 155 Alain White Rd., 860-567-9600, winvian.com.

THE WHITE BARN INN

Kennebunkport, ME
> Miles from Boston Common: 85
> Average meal price per person: $$
> Meal on a scale of 1 to 10: 10.0

The rafters of this 1820s barn-turned-dining room are full of antiques and wooden animals, calling to mind half-remembered fantasies of childhood. Below, white-jacketed waiters go about making those dreams a reality, offering crisply choreographed service that befits the big occasions diners regularly celebrate here. Chef Jonathan Cartwright’s menu is over the top without being showy: The lobster appetizer here is smoked, giving it a subtle bacon taste, while foie gras–braised short ribs would be superfluous atop steak if the dish weren’t so delicious. Book one of the inn’s plush guest rooms (trust us), and work off dinner the next day with a walk alongside the mansions of Kennebunk Beach. 37 Beach Ave., 207-967-2321, whitebarninn.com.

With reporting by Michael Blanding, Brittany Jasnoff, Erin byers Murray, Amy Traverso, and Chin Wang

  • Jane

    Al Forno should not be on this list. When was the last time you ate there? Mediocre food, surly service, high prices.

  • Dick

    A message to Todd. Leave that minor league city in the dust where the most popular chef “KO” has his ass kissed for running a Tacos, Tapas and Steak House empire. Too funny.

  • jim

    i agree with jane with the additional note that they have always treated cwoc [customers without connections] as second class. don’t expect to be treated well if you can’t or won’t mention a “friend of a friend”. also,they are quite inflexible if you have even minor dietary restrictions or preferences. comments on other places seem on target.