Best of New England: Vermont
Seasonality and sustainability are guiding principles at this Burlington gastropub, but rest assured that admirable ideals don’t come at the expense of great food. Dive into plates like handrolled spaghetti with black-truffle cream, pistachios, and house-made ricotta; lamb burgers with minted yogurt; and decadent poutine topped with local cheese curds. The cocktail menu, too, is as forward-thinking as any urban tavern, and the beer list bubbles over with craft brews. // 317 Riverside Ave., Burlington, 802-540-1786, bluebirdtavern.com.
Meal with a View
SIMON PEARCE RESTAURANT
Be prepared for Simon Pearce to take your breath away. For starters, the dining room juts precariously over the rushing falls of Quechee. But chef Joshua Duda’s cooking presents the real drama. His tasty horseradish-encrusted cod with herb mashed is a perennial favorite, and new preparations like maple-and-miso-glazed trout keep guests pleasantly on edge. Love the distinctive wineglasses or handthrown ceramic plates on your table? Head to the adjacent Simon Pearce store for a set to take home. // 1760 Quechee Main St., Quechee, 802-295-1470, simonpearce.com.
THE BEE’S KNEES
Adored by children for its corner full of toys and crowd-pleasing offerings like mac and cheese with local cheddar, this casual spot also appeals to parents, who can enjoy their chicken-and-goat-cheese potpie and live folk-rock with Junior blissfully occupied. // 82 Lower Main St., Morrisville, 802-888-7889, thebeesknees-vt.com.
It began as a backyard experiment and grew into a weekends-only joint, then a wholesale frozen-pizza enterprise, followed by branches in Vermont, Oregon, and Virginia. But nothing beats a trip to the original on the grounds of Lareau Farm. Here, in sight of the wood-fired oven, you can taste American Flatbread’s simple, delicious pies topped with artisanal ingredients like Vermont-made sausage and organic tomato sauce. Then linger late into the night by the campfire. // 46 Lareau Rd., Waitsfield, 802-496-8856, americanflatbread.com.
HEN OF THE WOOD
Now that eating local has gone mainstream, many menus prattle on, name-checking every farmer, bloodline, and land mass that begat the pedigreed slab on your plate. So it is at Hen of the Wood — though here, gracefully executed items (like Winding Brook Farm pork loin with local spring-dug parsnips) deserve such royal treatment. Chef Eric Warnstedt’s cuisine is positively reverent, and the waterfall crashing outside this former gristmill is full of majesty, too. // 92 Stowe St., Waterbury, 802-244-7300, henofthewood.com.
Place for a Pit Stop
TIP TOP CAFÉ
The town of White River Junction is a natural place to stop en route from Boston. But why settle for gas-station food when you can actually enjoy a civilized meal? Settle into a table at the Tip Top, a casual café by day and an elegant bistro by night. The lunch menu ranges from straightforward (turkey melts, classic steak sandwiches) to adventurous (a pumpkin falafel–filled gyro with cilantro crème fraîche), ensuring everyone in your caravan can find something to love. Fill ’er up, then get back on the road with renewed gusto. // 85 N. Main St., White River Junction, 802-295-3312, tiptopcafevermont.com.
FOUR COLUMNS INN
Take a glowing, crackling fireplace, add chef Greg Parks’s intoxicating fusion of French and Asian cuisines, and finish with the feeling of being miles away from anywhere. Whatever the reason, a dinner at the Four Columns Inn’s house restaurant has a way of sweeping you off your feet — even more so if you opt for the six-course chef’s tasting. As you tuck into arugula-and-goat-cheese salad tossed with passion-fruit vinegar, or swoon over panko-crusted scallops with green curry sauce, you’ll swear you’ve stumbled on some secret aphrodisiac. // 21 West St., Newfane, 800-787-6633, fourcolumnsinn.com.