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Jan 13, 2009 06:26 PM

Looking for Great Eats in VT

This weekend we are getting away for an unheard of three day weekend - Just the two of us, no kids...We probably will cook in one night and go out for two...One night I'd like to do something very nice and romantic - the other can be whatever strikes us...We are extremely flexible but we are fussy - We love gourmet but are just as comfortable with a burger or pizza - It just has to be very good... We are staying in Andover (between Chester and Londonderry) but we are not above traveling an hour or so if the destination is worth the ride...Any recommendations are greatly appreciated...Thanks in advance for contributing to a wonderful weekend adventure....

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  1. can you give me a better idea of where you are?? Southern Vermont is where I know more about....

    1. Sounds like fun, El. Dining in the area you're staying in is somewhat limited, but there are a few diamonds in the rough. One very casual spot, on Rte. 103 in Mount Holly (just north of Ludlow) is called Harry's. It's locally famous, serving a full menu of wide-ranging fare, but best-known for its Thai apps and main dishes. My wife and I eat there often, just ordering the Thai apps, which I think they do the best job with.

      Another spot, right in the center of Ludlow, is DJ's. Not gourmet by any stretch, but good solid American fare--steaks, chops, seafood--well-prepared and reasonably priced. We like to sit at the bar and order off of their bar menu--one of the best burgers and homemade fries combos for $4.95!

      If you're looking for romantic dining, the Landgrove Inn in that small hamlet is quintessential Vermont hostelry in an extremely picturesque town (they absolutely refuse to pave any roads in Landgrove!). Not sure how good the food is anymore, but I've heard it's decent.

      Anyway, there's three suggestions . . . enjoy!

      2 Replies
      1. re: BruceFarr

        I wouldn't call Harry's romantic by any means, but strongly feel its the best restaurant in the area.

        1. re: BostonCharles

          No, absolutely, Harry's is cozy and a little funky, but definitely not romantic!

      2. I have always enjoyed the Tavern in Grafton. It's been awhile since I've dined there, but the food & service have always been wonderful. You can also get a drink at the old Barn semi-attached to the tavern. From Rt 121 in Chester, take Rt 35 South to Grafton, only about 5 miles or so away. Don't take the Rt 121 Back way there- it is not paved and covered in snow.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tall sarah

          We've actually stayed (and eaten) at the Tavern probably 10 years ago and it was very good and because we always skiied Okemo DJ's was a staple - I'd actually kind of forgotten about both...Thanks for the input -

          PS - We're still open to any more suggestions - One can never have too many choices when on an infrequent adventure!

        2. If my compass is right, you are about a half-hour from Queechee, where Simon Pierce Restaurant (and craft store) is not to be missed.

          16 Replies
          1. re: DonShirer

            Queechee is closer to an hour. The roads twist & wind and aren't direct at all. You pass through Woodstock along the way and that's a more interesting spot with an awful lot of quality dining options like Pane e Salute. Personally, I wouldn't want to drive from Queechee or Woodstock to Andover at night after a big meal and a bottle of wine.

            I'm unfamiliar with the dining options in Ludlow but Okemo does 600,000 skier visits so the town has to be able to support a number of good restaurants. You also have a lot of affluent people skiing at Stratton so I'm sure that there are a number of dining options in Weston, Londonderry, & Bondville and in Manchester.

            1. re: GeoffD

              "Has to be able to support" doesn't always translate to "a good restaurateur/chef has set up shop in [some area]" Specially in Vermont. ;D I've been to Ludlow a couple of times for gaming conventions. This was many years ago, so things could have changed, but I was very unimpressed with the dining options. We actually ended up eating at McDonald's most of the time because at least we knew what we were getting. That being said, a lot could have changed, and I think I've heard there's a place in a little general store that does a great sandwich, down the hill from the resort, IIRC. I can't recall the name, though.

              1. re: Morganna

                Morganna: There's no McDonald's in Ludlow and never has been, thankfully, so I'm not sure where you meant. Still, if you avoided some of the local places where the food--as I said in an earlier post--might not be gourmet but is at least decent and homemade and not chain-linked, you did yourself a disservice. The Loft, for one, near Okemo's base lodge, serves really excellent bar food--and the hamburgers outdo McDonald's by a mile. ;-)

                1. re: BruceFarr

                  we've often had pub food while at Okemo and since my memory fades daily, can't remember where but burgers and sandwiches were always OK. I didn't remember a mcdonalds there either.

                  1. re: BruceFarr

                    Maybe I'm thinking of a different town in the area. It's been a long time since I've gone to Carnage. They don't hold it at the same place any more. I'll ask around to see if my friend J remembers what town it used to be in. It might be that we just had McDonald's somewhere on the way. Whatever town it was we were in, none of the dining options (when we looked at the menus and into the restaurants and asked people) seemed worth taking the risk for the cost (we were poor at the time, that mattered, too). In any case, the point of my comment remains.

                    Just because there seems to be enough tourist traffic in a particular area doesn't mean that there's great dining in that area. I have been in plenty of towns in Vermont for one reason or another, and not been enough "in the know" to realize that something that looks like a hole in the wall is actually good. I've been in enough places that -are- total crudholes that looked like holes in the wall to be wary of taking chances, especially when money is tight.

                    Anyway, now I have to figure out where it was we did eat! ;D

                    1. re: Morganna

                      Ok, I figured it out! You're right, it wasn't Ludlow. :) It was Ascutney! :) Hee! Still... my original point stands. ;D

                  2. re: Morganna

                    I ahve to agree - sadly in my experience Ludlow supports precisely one good restaurant - Harry's, a bit out of town.

                    The rest are thoroughly mediocre. I think most people eat at home

                  3. re: GeoffD

                    I have to support Morganna on this one. Okemo's business comes from families with under teenage kids, mostly from CT, who stay in condos. Not the demographic that supports innovative or even especially good food. I lived in Ludlow for a winter. I found DJ's duller than dishwater.

                    1. re: thinks too much

                      Whoo hoo! Does this mean I win? I'm gonna start keeping score! *cheer*


                      I've never had any kids, but I remember being a kid, and on vacations, my parents would take us to whatever place was able to fill the black hole that was my older brother's stomach for cheapest. ;D

                      1. re: Morganna

                        Funny, as a kid we ate at places that had good home cooking to feed a family of 8. My grandfather brought us to the country gentleman and some resto's up near lake george or saratoga. Eating out was such a treat, I think we only went top shelf, mom could fill the gaping hole that was our appetite at home ;)

                        1. re: jspear

                          I remeber a few meals in the Lake George/Lake Luzerne/Corinth area. There used to be a roadside spot called The Brass Bucket. A real classic with about 6 seats at a small counter. Sadly, it is long gone.

                          1. re: TonyO

                            My husband and I still talk about The Brass Bucket on the road between Lake George and Lake Luzerne. The Bucket Burger is, and always will be, the measure of every hamburger we eat. After more than 20 years, it's still tops. The homemade macaroni salad was great too.

                          2. re: jspear

                            I'm a little confused. During vacations you went home to eat more? It's just a question of expense management for our family. We couldn't just go home to fill my brother's stomach, we were on vacation. They couldn't afford to keep enough snacks in the RV to keep my brother fed if we ate at expensive places for our eating out. So we ate at cheap, filling places because that's what we could afford. :)

                            1. re: Morganna

                              sorry, our vacations were to our family place on the coast of maine, we never did the rv thing or went places where we needed to eat out only.

                              1. re: jspear

                                ahhhh! :) That makes sense. :) My Dad worked for Winnebago, so he could get an RV for two weeks in the summer as part of his perks. :) We'd drive all around the midwest. :)

                        2. re: thinks too much

                          OK, then the original poster can go in the direction of Stratton and Manchester. You're basically saying that the dining in Ludlow is about as interesting as the skiing up on the mountain. Bland & homogeneous.

                    2. It's not a restaurant but you're not that far from Singleton's Market in Proctorsville.

                      You'd go east on 11 to Chester, north/left on 103 for 6 or 7 miles to just before you hit Ludlow, at the granite Castle resort, turn east/right on 131 for maybe 1/2 mile. It can't be more than 20 minutes.

                      Guns & Ammo, Liquor, Gourmet Foods. There's really nothing like it. They operate their own smokehouse. They make a superb pepperoni. I like their teryaki beef jerky. I always stock up on their smoked bacon ends for making baked beans or pea soup. If you're cooking in, poke your nose in there first.