Hen of the Wood, Waterbury, VT: Review
As promised, here is a review of the Chef's Tasting dinner I attended on Thursday evening:
First, the restaurant has a great ambiance that can only come from an authentic 200 year old former mill. The cleanliness and attention to atmosphere (lighting, colors, spacing of tables, etc.) is spot on. Now on to the real attraction, the food !
I must first advise of some omissions/errors in recreating the menu as it was a long evening and I did not take notes. My apologies to readers and Hen of teh Woods for an unitentional errors. Additionally, we all opted for the wine pairings which I have limited recall about particulars (vintner, varietal, etc.) but will add details whenever possible.
Teh evening started off with a celebratory glass of Gruet Sparkling wine followed by a Parsnip soup "shooter". Very nicely done. Perfectly batter fried Asparagus tips were served with a tarragon aioli. More than one of the 5 of us (myself included) used the extra aioli on our bread. Next up was a Vermont version of a Bruschetta featuringgrilled bread topped with a Vermont cheese and domestic proscuitto (excellent) and drizzled with local honey. Very niceley done. Next, I believe was the Hen of the Wood Mushroom and Vermont Smoke and Cure Bacon presentation. Absolutely delicious. A seared halibut fillet was perfectly cooked and was accompanied with a vivid green emulsion (can't recall the ingredients). Next was a perfectly cooked duck breast with mustard spaetzle. Then we enjoyed Vermont Beef with braised local ramps and morels. Quite a treat and really showed how wonderful Vermont beef can be. A cheese course featured Constant Bliss (the essence fo what Vermont Artisal cheese is all about). A simple Panna Cota wrapped up the evening served with a great late harvest wine from Adelsheim.
Our waitress was extremely knowledgeable about the menu offerings which is all too often not the case. The cost (with wine but exclusive of tax/tip) was $80 per person. I feel it represents a solid value to anyone that truly undertands and appreciates how much effort goes into sourcing and preparing such wonderful food. My only minor complaint was that the serving sizes seemed to vary (for example, my duck was comprised of 2 fairly small slices while other guests at our table had three fairly large pieces and there seemed to be a noticeable difference in the size of the Halibut fillets). Maybe I noticed as I seemed to be the recipient of the smaller pieces ! I will say that I did not leave hungry !
Hen of the Wood is worth a visit. Call for reservations as the place is developing quite a following and recently received some national press and accolades. Their website is WWW.HENOFTHEWOOD.COM