Above: Simon Pearce restaurant overlooking the Ottauquechee River waterfall, Quechee

Vermont Dining Experiences

Simon Pearce, Quechee

With over 6,000 farms and a million acres dedicated to food production, Vermont is an agricultural state. Locals have a deep appreciation for the dairy farmers and distillers, sugar-makers and cheesemongers who ultimately make Vermont the place it is. Here, farm-to-table is less a trend than a way of life, and restaurants throughout the state reap the benefits. Below are five that deserve recognition.

Hen of the Wood

Dining area in Hen of the Wood, Waterbury
Mushroom toast, Hen of the Wood

There are two locations of Hen of the Wood, in Waterbury and Burlington. Opened in 2005, the Waterbury restaurant is the original and the one we recommend for its atmospheric setting in a former mill. Reservations here are hard to come by, but diners who succeed in getting them are rewarded with emphatically seasonal dishes. Strawberries were in season when we visited, and they made appearances in the vinaigrette that topped a lovely Little Gem lettuce salad, in the jam that accompanied a bloomy Jasper Hill cheese and as a Campari-pickled complement to an entrée of fried rabbit with lemon ricotta. The much-hyped Parker Rolls proved ordinary, but the simple plate of thin-sliced country ham resembled prosciutto and was melt-in-your-mouth delicious. The dessert menu was Vermont through and through and featured numerous types of local cheeses. Closed Sunday and Tuesday.

Hen of the Wood
92 Stowe Street, Waterbury. Tel. (802) 244-7300

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Above: Simon Pearce restaurant overlooking the Ottauquechee River waterfall, Quechee

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