MountainTop Inn, Chittenden (VT): Don't make a special trip
SO and I made our annual x-c and eating trek with friends this past weekend, and having heard good things about MountainTop, made that the venue for the birthday dinner. For the most part, however, the food didn't clear the high bar of our expectations.
Setting was fine (we ate in the pub, much more attractive than the extra-large dining room) where we could select from both tavern and DR menus. Aps included one of the tastier items: crab cake sliders, crunchy outside and nicely seasoned inside, plenty of crab. Caesar salad was good, but nothing special. I was pleased to see smelt on the menu, which came as about 9 fish, fried, with a HUGE pot of the house remoulade (quite good), but the fish were just OK: bland. Since smelts aren't very assertive to start with, to my mind a good preparation will be crunchy (these weren't, although not soggy) with a hint of something. I had to ask for lemon, which I would have thought was a natural accompaniement.
Main courses had the most interesting dish of the night: a "Portobello Wellington" in a nice pastry, and stuffed with all sort of veggies and flavors: very interesting. SO's gnocchi were starchy, and again, very bland: just not much flavor. Same for my halibut: a typical presentation of a large (too large, to my taste) piece of fish, cooked properly, plunked on a large heap of bland whipped potatoes. There were nice veggies, including grilled zucchini. Final main was scallops of elk: farm raised (I think from upstate NY), nicely cooked, but nothing to write home about. For dessert, we all shared a very delicious and large (can't believe a single person could eat it!) dish of homemade maple-walnut icecream.
Service was attentive, wines reasonably priced, and price fair enough (although in addition to VT food and lodging tax, they add some other fee I never figured out). In summary, this is probably what to expect from a large resort-type kitchen: good food, reasonably cooked, but soul-less.