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New England Foliage Trip

  • t

Four of us will be traveling to New England for a foliage trip starting September 27, I would love any recommendations you have for restaurants in the areas we will be visiting. My husband is a little traditional and is very much a steak and potato kind of guy, however, he does like seafood (a couple of steakhouse recommendations would be great for him). I'm a lot more adventurous and love spicy foods, our friends are also more on the adventurous side. This will be our first trip to New England and we're really looking forward to it. The following is our itinerary:

Woburn, Mass (above Boston), 3 nights - we will spend time in Boston and also drive down to Cape Cod

S. Portland, Maine, Lobster will be our food focus here, 3 nights

West Campton, New Hampshire, 2 nights

Burlington, VT, 2 nights (may drive up to Canada one day

Albany, NY, 2 nights

Hartford, CT, 1 night

Providence, RI, 1 night

Any and all help you provide will be greatly appreciated.

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  1. Hen of the Woods, Waterbury VT (worth the bit of a drive that it is, it's an easy drive)
    Trattoria Delia, Burlington, VT
    L'amante, Burlington, VT
    Single Pebble, Burlington, VT
    Sadie Katz deli (YUM YUM), Burlington, VT

    The last two could be lunch stops (Does Single Pebble do lunch? Now I'm not sure).

    1 Reply
    1. re: Morganna

      Thanks for the information. We plan to be doing a lot of driving to see the sights, so a drive for dinner is no problem. We are from California and think nothing of driving a couple of hours to our destination and then back the same day.

    2. Not too much in West Campton, but Common Man has a couple restaurants in that area (some are better then others), I've enjoyed Foster's Steakhouse but it's been a while (in Plymouth) and although I haven't been, my family says the Italian Farmhouse is great too (also Plymouth). Just south in Ashland is their first Common Man - which was awesome back in my college days (for a special occasion). Check out their menus, they are different.

      Have a blast, you will love the drives throughout.

      On your way up to Portland from Woburn, awesome breakfast in North Hampton on Rt. 1, Nancy' Place (186 Lafayette Rd.). We just discovered it last weekend. Awesome, homemade, delish & creative breakfasts like lobster benedict, lobster and asparagus crepes, creative omeletts, quite a few different benedicts (It's one of my fav breakfasts and this place had maybe 6 on the menu). Great value, imagine a nicer diner.

      2 Replies
      1. re: lexpatti

        We will be doing the Zip Line in Lincoln, it might be a good idea to try the Common Man there after were done. Thanks for the info.

        1. re: tll

          A good place to eat after the zip line is the Woodstock Inn on Rte 3 in Woodstock, NH. Especially if either of you are beer drinkers.

          Try and include a drive up over the Kanc (Rte 112) and through Franconia Notch in your travels. The 112/16/302/3 loop is very scenic.

      2. In fact while you are staying in Campton, definately take a short ride over to Center Sandwich (where they filmed On Golden Pond) and go to my favorite in the area - Corner House Inn. The ride alone will be excellent.

        2 Replies
        1. re: lexpatti

          This is all really great info. We travel a lot and the only thing we sometimes find disappointing is the restaurants, it is so hard to choose where to go without knowing the area. I decided this time to do my homework, I'm glad I found this website.

          1. re: lexpatti

            I second that! The Center Sandwich/Squam Lake area is beautiful in every season.

          2. In Portland, you might really like Fore Street. This is a great spot for seafood, and lobster is always on the menu. You also should consider Hugo's and 555, both of which are terrific, but not necessarily places to go for lobster.

            1. Just an FYI, unless you go way up north, you are not going to be seeing much in the way of foliage. Everything is still green in the hills of southern NH. If your husband likes steak--Buckley's Great Steaks in Merrimack NH and Hanover Chop House in Manchester NH. For a real taste of old Boston, I highly recommend Locke-Ober, which has been in business since the 1800's--beautiful room, and where else can you taste JFK's lobster stew?

              1 Reply
              1. re: whs

                For a traditional food kind of guy, wouldn't Durgin Park for lunch be a good idea? We dined there a couple of years ago - don't miss Indian Pudding for dessert. I think I had a short ribs meal. We used to go to Durgin Park during school field trips umpty ump years ago.

              2. If you want to see foliage and have some great food I would suggest going to long way from Portland to West Campton - down to Portsmouth, over to Concord via Rt 4 then north of Rt 93. For lunch, take exit 17, turn right and head into Boscawen. The Smoke Shack will be on your right. Great southern bbq and sides although my husband doesn't care for the sweet potato fries after having the great ones at the Dipsy Doodle in Northfield (exit 19). They are open every day for lunch in summer but their website doesn't say when they switch to winter hours when they are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Surely they will be open for foliage traffic. You will also have the advantage of seeing the mountains get closer and closer.

                  1. In South Portland:
                    --Saltwater Grille, go a bit early for dinner to watch sunset over Portland.
                    --Culinary Arts Dining Room at Southern Maine Community College: see if you can get reservations for lunch; gorgeous views and very inexpensive for the fare, prepared by culinary students.

                    In Cape Elizabeth:
                    --If the Lobster Shack is still open, go for lunch

                    In Portland:
                    --Street & Co. for seafood (but there's nothing else on the menu, so if husband doesn't eat it, don't go)
                    --Fore Street: Chef Sam Hayward is the dean of the local foods movement in Maine; wood-fired oven and grill, yes on both lobster and steak.
                    --555: Another foodie favorite. fabulous.
                    --Bresca, hole in the wall, but excellent Italian fare with creativity and style.
                    --Caiola's: excellent neighborhood bistro
                    --Evangeline: French
                    --Back Bay Grill: fine dining
                    --Duckfat: Go for the French fries at lunch, with a salad or sandwich and a shake.
                    NOTE: With the exception of Duckfat, you'll need advance reservations for all the above Portland restaurants. Also search on this board for more info about any of them.

                    1. Just so you know, the drive from Burlington to the border is about 2 hours, then to Montreal, another 1/2 hour or so.
                      There isn't a whole lot in the way of dining inbetween. If you want to make the trip, perhaps plan for something special in MTL, but remember, if returning the same day, it'll be a drive.
                      You CAN take the 89 up into Canada, but may I suggest route 2 through the Champlain Islands, its a more interesting drive...

                      You can search individual destinations (Portland, West Campton, etc) on this board and get tons of results for each place.

                      GL, and REPORT BACK!

                      1. I agree, you may be too far south for leaf peeping, although a hard frost (27*) is predicted for tonight. Go to the Maine tourism site. Thy display a map of Maine showing the peak leaf peeping areas of the state for a given day.

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          Thanks everyone for the responses. We don't leave for 9 days and then we will be there for 14, so I'm hoping we will find color. We're from California and a 2 or 3 hour drive doesn't mean anything to us, so we'll go wherever we need to for the color. I'm copying eveyones suggestions to a document that I will take with us for ideas. We travel at least once or twice a year to different places, the only thing we are ever disappointed in is the food. Having suggestions from people that know the areas we are going to will make all the difference.

                          1. re: tll

                            You will see color, I was just up to Lake Winny (meredith NH) and few trees are turning - you'll see a beautiful New England.

                            I agree with dfrostNH that you should come south from ME, when you drive over to Campton - otherwise you may go through North Conway (not much to be pleased about unfortunately). It's a great shopping area though, not sure why there isn't a great dining scene.

                            1. re: lexpatti

                              If we go south, we will miss the Kancamagus Hwy which was on my list to see. I have been concerned because I've heard it is a very busy road. Do you recommend missing it for the food and to avoid the traffic?

                              1. re: tll

                                No, take the Kanc. It's lovely, and while you probably won't be the only leaf peepers around, I wouldn't worry about traffic.

                                Let's see....there's not much in Campton, but Plymouth has some good options - the Italian Farmhouse is a favorite of mine. There's also a new Thai place and the Six Burner Bistro, both of which are very good. I agree that the original Common Man in Ashland is great - I like to sit upstairs in the pub area.

                                While you're in that part of NH, I definitely agree with others on taking a drive around Squam lake. The most beautiful place in the world, and you should get some good leaf peeping.

                                Have fun!

                                1. re: fezzig

                                  Can you tell me what the route/highwy no. is for the Kanc?

                                  1. re: Shooley

                                    112. It's the Lincoln/Loon Mtn exit (32) off of 93.

                                    If coming from Fryeburg on 302, stay straight on 113 where 302 goes to the right towards N Conway and the outlets. Head straight through Conway Village and it will be a little ways up on your right.

                                    Oxford House in Fryeburg is a good place for dinner in that area. They have a nice dining room upstairs and the more casual Jonathan's on the lower level.

                                    Oxford House Inn
                                    548 Main St, Fryeburg, ME 04037

                                2. re: tll

                                  You don't have to go through North Conway to take the Kanc, and the Kanc shouldn't be missed. It's a spectacular drive, and that's probably where you'll see the best foliage, as it cuts through White Mountain National Forest. Yes, it might be busy, but what's the hurry? Slow down, view the leaves, pick up a picnic lunch and enjoy it at one of the view points or by the Swift River or on a trail.

                                  Route 302 west from Portland is a nice route, with possibilities for lunch in Bridgton and Naples, but an alternative and far, far less-busy route is 25 to Cornish--have lunch at Krista's Restaurant or Bay Haven Lobster Pound Two (owned by a fishing family, good seafood, big portions), then mosey up either Route 160 or 114 to Brownfield, and across the backroads into Conway and the Kanc. or continue up to Fryeburg and cut across there. If you go to Fryeburg, stop at Weston's Farm Stand, just off Route 302 on 113 north. Note: Do not even consider driving through Fryeburg if your visit coincides with the Fryeburg Fair (unless you're a fair junkie and want to fight the crowds at Maine's Blue Ribbon Classic Fair and fight for fried dough).

                                  1. re: tll

                                    I agree, the Kanc is beautiful. So maybe this would work, have an awesome breakfast before leaving Portland (I'm sure many suggestions on this board if you start a new search for "awesome breakfast Portland Me"), then stop somewhere in Conway to pack a nice lunch to eat on the Kanc - picnic style. You could even start a separate topic for that, locals will chime in and give you best places to pack a picnic.

                            2. I am repeating the content of other of my posts, but since you are from CA...I highly recommend the Shaker Village in Canterbury NH, near Concord (www.shakers.org). It is an idyllic locale, with a fascinating guided tour which includes many of the Shakers' notable inventions (e.g. a rotating vertical oven which baked dozens of loaves at once). There is a farmstand and summer snack restaurant, plus fine dining at The Shaker Table, a lovely room with Shaker reproduction decor, in an original barn. Shaker and Shaker-inspired food is creative but hearty American fare, reflecting the fact that Shakers were the first Americans to grow and extensively use herbs for their recipes.

                              About a 40-minute drive from Canterbury is Gould Hill Orchard (www.gouldhill.com),in Contoocook, on a hilltop with a panoramic mountain view. They grow dozens of apple varieties including rare heirlooms, and some which grow nowhere else. There is a tiny nature museum in the historic barn, where you can examine natural local artifacts close up. For the braver cider enthusiast, their unpasteurized cider blends many unusual varieties into a complex-tasting sweet cider that makes supermarket cider forever a letdown.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: greygarious

                                Thanks everyone, these are great ideas. I can tell already one visit won't be enough. I have one other question. I keep seeing cider donuts mentioned, I'd never heard of them. What is so special about them?

                                1. re: tll

                                  The ones I've had have always been small and freshly made, still crunchy outside, with a warm apple-flavored interior courtesy of the cider in the batter.

                                  1. re: tll

                                    They are cake donuts, available plain, or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Fresh and still warm, they are unbelievably good. Paired up with some unpasteurized cider is one of the simplest, yet delicious things to eat in the fall. It's easy to eat 2-3 in a sitting.

                                    1. re: tll

                                      As greygarious mentioned, usually small and tasting of being fried. Although my favorite cider donut is from Bartlett's Orchards in Richmond, MA, in the heart of the Berkshires. No grease at all.
                                      However, it's a regional specialty and not to be missed. Good ones have great cider as the liquid ingredient, along with traditional apple spices. Yum. Find some! And that recommend is from someone who doesn't much care for donuts!

                                      1. re: mjoyous

                                        Thanks, I will watch for them and give them a try. I'm afraid I'm going to gain 10 pounds on this trip.

                                    2. re: greygarious

                                      Great suggestions from greygarious although I think Gould Hill is closer to Canterbury Shaker Village than 40 minutes. Canterbury Shaker Village can be reached from exit 18/rt 93. If you plot out a trip via Rt 4 to Concord then north on 93 ... I think you could plan a loop that includes the Kancamangus plus the Squam Lake area. The distance isn't great. There are a couple of orchards in the Canterbury area but Gould Hill has the best apple selection plus a pretty nice view towards the mountains. Since the owner wants to sell, the orchard might not be around too much longer. Portsmouth to Concord is less than an hour. Canterbury is north of Concord. Concord to mountains is about an hour. Haven't traveled the Kanc in quite a few years (so near, yet so far). I just bought Honey Crisp and Ginger Gold at a local farmstand. Incredible taste and still a bit on the tart side. With two nights in Campton I think you can easily include it all.

                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        I had lunch at the Shaker Table and it was horrible. The food was terrible and way overpriced, the service was nothing to write home about, and the dining room was pretty simple and uninteresting.

                                      2. Sorry to interrupt, folks. We've split off some Albany suggestions for tII to the Tristate board. You'll find 'em here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/558923 .

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: The Chowhound Team

                                          While you're in Providence, the best place for seafood is Hemenway's which is on South Main Street. However, we are also known for our Italian food, which is some of the best around.

                                          About twenty minutes away in Smithfield (NW of Providence) is "d.carlo's" which is on scenic Rte 7 (if the leaves are changing while you're here, it's a beautiful road to travel) - easy to get to from Providence. They specialize in Italian, but their seafood and steaks are out of this world as well. Their service has always been wonderful, as well.

                                        2. In Hartford if you want a steak dinner go to Max Downtown... I've never had a bad meal.. or service there.. for more spicy fare.. Feng is upscale Asian.. up the street from Max's