white mountains quandry - help !
- willowan Mar 17, 2008 03:54 PM
After many helpful replies to my last post I now have a 10 day itinerary around Maine and NH all sorted - apart from my last three nights.
I will be travelling south from Rangeley and will have three nights to explore and sample the chow in the white mountains, before heading back down the I 93 to Logan. They will be a Wed/Thr/ Fri 8-10 October and options for staying/eating include
Victoria Inn - Bethel
Carter Notch Inn - Jackson
Notchland Inn - Harts location
Sugar Hill Inn - Sugar Hill
Ideally we would like to split our stay so we have our last two nights in one place. Food and glorious views for the finale to our stay are very important, but also dont want to spend last two nights eating at same place unless it is both varied and spectacular !
What are the views on chow at these establishments, the chow prospects elsewhere in these villages/towns and which is the most beautiful/ non touristy location.
Or do you recommend somewhere else entirely ?!
Thanks as ever for any help you can give
Here is the website for Notchland: http://www.notchland.com/
With the dollar so cheap against the pound, you should rent the Willard Cottage, complete with jacuzzi and wood-burning fireplace. Be sure to book asap, as October is peak leaf-peeping season. A little more formal, but with a great wine cellar, is the Inn at Thorn Hill in Jackson. For me though, nothing beats the natural setting of Notchland.
In your planning - keep in mind it's a 5 hour drive from Boston to Mt Desert, 3 1/2 - 4 hours from Mt Desert to Moosehead and another 3 1/2 - 4 from Moosehead to Rangley - and that's without any stops along the way. Greenville and Rangley are well off the beaten path, but well worth it. Both are destination towns without very many service between Southern Maine and them. Views of Mt Kineo and the Height of Land never get old and both have nice places to stop and bring a take-out lunch along.
Moosely Bagel's and the Red Onion both have takeout in Rangley to take to the height of Land.
You can't beat the views from the Mt. Washington Hotel and in October, it would be mind blowing. They are undergoing some construction of a new spa, but the view from the veranda would still be ok. We recently had dinner there but it was a fixed menu, so we didn't see the regular one. I had sea bass on an artichoke risoto cake with a smoked tomato sauce that was delicious. The breakfast buffet was just ok.
It would be worth a stop just to see the hotel and have a drink out on the veranda (there is a veranda bar). It's a spectacular building very rich with history. (they have daily tours by a docent at 10am and 3pm)
My rec would be to stay at Notchland and have drinks on the verandah at the Mt. Washington. The ride up through Crawford Notch is spectacular. You will probably be one of many driving the Kancamagus Hwy--instead of taking it all the way from Conway to Lincoln, you can get on it at Bartlett. Heading from Notchland to Conway, make the right on to Bear Notch Road in Bartlett--it's much less travelled, it's scenic, and it puts you about halfway on the Kanc. Go toward Lincoln, but instead of having lunch there, continue on to North Woodstock and have lunch at the Woodstock Inn and Station Brewery--if the weather is warm, the terrace is pleasant for one of their home-brewed beers and a sandwich or salad. http://www.woodstockinnnh.com/
I have stayed at the Victorian in Bethel(when it was a B&B). Nice rooms, good location. I prefer the Sudbury Inn. Rooms aren't as good, but they have a good pub. In my mind, a good pub trumps all. I have also stayed at the Carter Notch Inn; a great place, nice innkeepers, excellent breakfast. I highly recommend it. Get a premuim room. I am a fan of bars and pubs...so if you go there, travel down to the Moat Mountain Brewhouse ( 10 minutes) in No. Conway. Good food, great beer.
Keep in mind that this is prime "leaf peeping", so reserve early.
PS.....if in Rangely, consider a drive over to Eustis and dine at the Porter House. A pretty drive, about an hour...watch out for moose!
I have heard that there is a little place in N. Conway called Maestro that is very good. For the most part, though, I look for simple fare up there. The more "gourmet" they try to be, the worse the experience, with few exceptions. And I get my fill of fancy fare here in Providence, where there are tons of good restaurants. For simply prepared "lobster shack" type seafood, I like the Lobster Shack, which is off the beaten track on the West Side Rd. cutoff.
I think the Notchland or Sugar Hill are beautiful places to stay during foliage season. I have heard good things on both of their offerings for dining but have never eaten there myself.
As for the Mt. Washington, yes the verandah would be an excellent choice for a cocktail. They will be doing a LOT of construction this fall. It is not advertised. If you really want the experience I suggest you look at the Bretton Arms Inn. It is part of the resort and gives you amenities if it rains, but is away from construction and a more intimate setting. Both the chef and the host are amazing at what they do.
The Inn at Thorn Hill is excellent, but both their chef and pastry chef have changed since their CDNT award. It may be worth a visit to the lounge there since you can order off the lounge or dining room menu in the lounge without a reservation and the wine service is unparalleled. It may be worth looking at their rooms, as well. They are very comfy and certain ones can offer great views.
The Carter Notch Inn is a cute place with great views, especially at sunup. They would offer a close location to many of the white mountain restaurants without a really large driving commitment.
If you decide to head towards Sugar Hill, don't moss Polly's Pancake House. Even if the line is long. Seriously.
While you're at it, check out the Darby Field Inn as well. My husband thinks it has one of the best views in the Mt. Washington Valley.
I've only eaten at Notchland (my SO's brother got married there in a small ceremony, and we stayed for dinner), but the dinner was top-notch, and the Inn seemed very nice. It's definitely on my short list for B+B's in the north country.