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Is Windsor the BEST kept food secret in the Upper Valley?

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We recently spent a week in the Upper Valley on vacation as usual. We went to our Favorite spot in Windsor, the Windsor Station, but also ate at virtually all the little eateries in town. Everywhere the food was fabulous, and a lot of choices for such a small town. The only place we did not get back to this trip, was the Juniper Hill Inn, but their owners still got our business at their Main Street Cafe. It has the clever name of no name. A contest was held and they advertised themselves as no name until the contest was over. The locals must of liked the idea because no name won the contest. Here is a list of what Windsor has to offer:

Dan's Windsor Diner- Great classic looking diner. Good food and portions with mid level pricing. Typical diner food for a menu, but the fried haddock is a must, but order the coleslaw with dinner because its fresh and the veggies are canned. The rolls are homemade as well as the coleslaw. also, the chili is spicy hot and homemade perfection. I asked a waitress if they sold the chilli and coleslaw by the pound, but they don't.

No Name Cafe- Pricey, high end food and good atmoshphere, live music Friday nights, and wine and a real coffee bar in Vermont. Owned by the Juniper Hill Inn owners so the food is top quality all the way.

Windsor Station- Our favorite, and the reason we make Windsor a stop on our trips from Mass. Good quality food upper mid pricing, great atmosphere and the train rolls by. Can't beat it!

Windsor Pizza Chef- Best Pizza in the Upper Valley hands down. Reasonable pricing Italian fare, calzones, gyros, lasagne, spaghetti. It's all good.

Clara's Cafe- diner like food- good quality but very inexpensive. Try the baked haddock here or the "Sheppard's Pie." My wife likes their meatloaf, but its served on regular bread and becomes soggy quick. If you order it ask for it on a plate because the sandwich is impossible to pick up to eat. Although the meatloaf itself is very good. Elsa the owner, is the former owner of the Hartford Diner, another local eating landmark of the UV (at least for the thirty years we have been coming to VT and until it burned down).

Harppon Brewery- The brewery has a nice little brew pub with fancy sandwiches and fresh beer. Prices are upper mid and the food is good quality. Looking forward to their annual BBQ festival next month.

Tee Time Cafe- Located in the Windsor golf course and only recently opened to the public. They serve dinners and diner style food with mostly mid level pricing. More than generous portions, to say the least and very good quality. I think the meat is freshly deli sliced, or it taste that way. Live music Thursday nights.

What Not House Cafe, BBQ and Ice Cream- Interesting little location. We stopped to get Ice Cream and found a tresure trove. The Cafe serves fancy sandwiches, and has a good selection of coffee (not as good as the No Name however) Food is good quality, service is a little slow, but the family is running three businesses. The BBQ is reasonably priced and is typical of roadside stands or fair food. Good enough to be a top competitor in Harpoon's BBQ championships. Ice Cream has a good selection, but not great and only one kind of soft serve. Sorry, no twirls here. Pricing is upper mid at cafe, and middle of the road for BBQ and Ice Cream.

Knave of Hearts Museum Coffee Shop- located in the Firehous below the Maxfield Parrish and Saint Gaudens museum. Only desserts, but they are delicious. I expected to pay more for the bakery quality items. Coffee is okay, but again not as good as the No Name.

Juniper Hill Inn- High Quality and upper pricing. Worth the splurge once in a while. Food is absolutely fabulous. It is a good replacement to Home Hill Inn for those seeking the high end cuisine. Great place for a special dinner (anniversary, mother's day, etc.)

Yummi Yummi's- Chinese food, great pricing and some of the best chinese outside of Boston that we have had. Comparable in quality to Joy Wah in Bellows Falls in a lot of ways, and not so much in others. No view of the river and limited seating means mostly take out. However, if they are full they are right next door to Clara's and in view of the Windsor Station.

Subway- Corporate pricing, on the higher end for fast food. Poor service, only one person working the deli counter. Don't go during "peak eating" times for a quick bite. Pass this one over for the better quality of Pizza Chef.

Stub and Lauras- Old A&W style drive-in, large selection, good pricing and breakfast any time. Food is hit or miss on quality and the chilli tastes like it is out of a can. For those looking for economical, this is your place.

Besides Windsor, if you just can't wait until the promised land there there is Joanies (under new ownership), the Hartland Frosty Whip, and Mike's Store, and BG's Market in Hartland to grab a quick bite and Mr. G's in Ascutney. That said, wait until Windsor- the choices are worth it.

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  1. Thanks a lot for the extensive report on the restaurants in
    Windsor. I live in nearby Lebanon, NH and want to try
    some of the places you have described.

    1. Correction:
      Tee Time has music Friday nights and No Name on Thursdays. I put it in backwords. Sorry

      1. I'm originally from Springfield and know the diner but surprisingly few of the other places. I'm curious, where's Joanie's? Never heard of it before.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Joanie

          Joanie's was located at three corners (Jesse's Common) in Hartland. Joanie recently retired and sold the restaurant. Joanie's is actually no more, but another eatery is located in the space. I have not tried the new place. Being from Windsor, I have tried all the places. Some are very new, others (Windsor Station, Pizza Chef, Diner, and Stubs) have been here for years. Juniper HIll just opened to the general public for meals last year, No Name is new and located where Sheppard's Pie was last located on Main Street. What Not is in the original Sheppard's Pie location on Route 5 North, Clara's is where Loretta's Bar and Night Club was located on Main Street, Yummi, Yummi is right next door. Tee Time at the JPL Country Club has opened to the public for the first time. Previous operators of the food shack only served members. Maybe BoVT was correct, Windsor is the best kept secret for a bite to eat........Rudy

          1. re: RudyH

            I had some of the yummiest Chinese food at Yummy, Yummy this past weekend. In an area where there is a dearth of decent Chinese food, this place is a happy choice.

        2. Joanie's in Hartland is now Stella's

          1. Went through Windsor this weekend and were devestated. The What Not Cafe was closed because of a fire, Tee Time Cafe was closed because the owners were managing the No Name and the No Name Cafe had no dinners. We ate at Clara's and the food was still top notch and the Station which is still our favorite. We decided to venture further out to the Mt. Creamery in Woodstock and Bentley's and the food was good, a little pricey. The homeade ice cream at the Mt. Creamery made the trip to Woodstock worth it. We also went to the Royal Diner in Springfield before it closed. That was an interesting experience to say the least. Very upbeat employees if you know what I mean.

            1. Well, this weekend I had a chance to check out Stella's in Hartland Three Corners (the location was formerly Joanies). I have to say, I rather like Stella's. I had a nice eggs benedict made with local bacon (North Country Smokehouse) and some perfectly poached eggs, and a nice side of red bliss hash browns. Good food, reasonable prices. Area folks should check them out.

              2 Replies
              1. re: kaszeta

                Stella's was a good place when we stopped in. I guess we will have to make more room for it now that the No Name and Tee Time are "off the local menu." I hope Clara's can make it because they are new like No Name and Tee Time were.

                1. re: BoVT

                  Unfortunately, it looks like Clara's did not make it. Also, the Subway closed. I have never heard of a town 's "corporate fast food" chains closing as fast as they do in Windsor. I heard Clara's took on too much debt from another restaraunt at the location and could not catch up. A new business is hard to start, harder if debt is built in. If someone can clarify, I would love to know if this is accurate? I have friends in the Upper Valley that told me this. Clara's was opened by the former Hartford Diner owners and the food was excellent. Sad to see them go. The Subway, well they were slow and the grinders at the Pizza Chef were much, much better anyways.

              2. Wow! this post sounds like it was written by the president of the Windsor chamber of commerce. I have been to Windsor plenty of times and didn't realize they had so many restaurants. I can say I have had many pizzas from Pizza Chef and it really is as good as any pizza place I've been to. Windsor Station is fine for your standard American fare food. My father-in-law loved their prime rib and martinis. The restaurant at Mt. Ascutney Ski Resort is pretty good too, though a farely pricey. Thanks from RI !

                1 Reply
                1. re: blackstone

                  Actually it is from a tourist fascinated with Windsor's history who keeps coming back from Boston. I have never had luck at Ascutney, but I did hear they have had a new chef the last few years. My wife and I plan to visit Brown's Tavern at the Mountain this summer, the way things are going economically it may be th eonly place open in that area. I hope not.

                2. Hello! I just wanted to make note that Home Hill Inn has reopened as of May 1st! The format has changed a bit but the quality is the same. The chef, my fiancee, is the same as before and she's happier than ever to be back doing what she loves... I have to keep myself from gushing. Heh. Anyway, you can visit the website (www.homehillinn.com) and see what's new for yourself. Happy eating.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: oMaT

                    Wow, this is good news! Will the price points be the same as before? That is to say higher fine dining prices, or will it be comparible to the upper mid level price points?

                    1. re: BoVT

                      Probably the best brunch I've ever had was at Home Hill, Mother's Day 2006. I would be so happy to go back for more.

                      1. re: BoVT

                        Nope! You can see the current menu on the website (with prices) but in practical terms the prices are completely different. I'm trying to be careful in how I phrase things here as the Chowhound rules are fairly strict on using the site for advertising - but the goal with the reopening was to change the atmosphere. "Affordable elegance" are the watchwords today and Paula (the Chef/GM, my fiancee) has gone to great lengths to evolve Home Hill into a far more home-style establishment with the highest of standards. I often just relax in the bar with my laptop and say hello to everyone! :) If you have any other questions, let me know - I'll check back regularly.

                        1. re: oMaT

                          Has anyone tried Home Hill Inn since they reopened? I would love to hear if it is a place we should go for a nice birthday dinner. There are so few "special" restaurants with really good food in the Upper Valley that the tried and true (Parker House Inn, Quechee Inn, Pane Y Salute) lose their "specialness" after a while. I mean that it would be very nice to find another restaurant to add to my short list of favorites.

                          1. re: greenstate

                            It looks like I will answer my own query. We had a wonderful meal at Home Hill Inn on Thursday night. We started with steamed mussels in a rich broth, laced with a hint of curry which were delicious and bison sausage with fried pickles. That was a bit strong for my taste but my husband loved it. He ordered the prime rib, which is featured every Thursday. We noticed that every table had at least one order of the rib and so for very good reason. No bone, very little fat, perfectly cooked, with a great horseradish sauce. My white bass was good, with an eggplant relish and chick pea fries, but a little over cooked. For desert, an order of profiteroles with homemade ice cream. It is a great dining experience, more to the special dinner, with a beautiful dining room and soft music. I am eager to try the brunch, which I remember fondly from my meal there 2 years ago. There are so few nice places to eat, with good food and good atmosphere, we are thrilled that this one has made a comeback

                            1. re: greenstate

                              Excellent! We're so happy you had a wonderful time. Thank you for the feedback. :)

                              1. re: oMaT

                                Howdy. I used to work at the Home Hizzle (and live in Windsor, for that matter) with Paula Snow. I'm trying to learn more about its comeback, but the website doesn't offer much into the story. Can you give me the sweet & low down on the revival?

                    2. Has anyone tried Stub and Laurels since it was sold? Does it still have the same name even?

                      How about the Windsor Station? It was one of my favorites when owned by the Aldehgeris.

                      1. Ah Windsor pizza. Straight up. Note the canned mushrooms. Those who have never tried it sort of poo poo the use of canned mushrooms but don't appreciate the over all wonder that is the Windsor style.