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11 Jan 2009
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Waterbury Area Restaurants Reviewed in NY Times

Big Time NY Times Wanders Into the Backwoods To See What the Woodchucks Are Eating These Days

Mark Bittman, a writer for the Dining section of the NY Times Dining, must spend a good amount of time around the Waterbury VT area - he certainly knows the restaurants here, a couple of them off the beaten path for most visitors and even some locals.

As his December 28, 2008 review shows, he is very impressed with Hen of the Wood restaurant, a quality restaurant that was opened by a pair of chefs here in Waterbury about four years ago if memory serves.

One of the chef's mother stayed with us while the two young men were working to get their new place prepared for opening so we got an early insight into what kind of place they were aiming to establish in a highly competitive market.

As you can see by the newspaper's headline reference to "Backwoods" Vermont, many people come here expecting to be nearly on the edge of civilization, lucky to have a decent diner and maybe a couple of good potluck church dinners.

The fact of the matter is that there about 100 two and three star quality restaurants within a half hour's drive of where I am sitting now. Stowe alone has more than 50 quality restaurants and ranks third in New England for the number of two and three star restaurants (behind Boston and Providence). I've lived here nearly nine years and I'm still working my way through all the restaurants here.

Four quick items about Hen of the Wood that come up most often when I'm speaking to guests about it:

Yes, this is the restaurant with the chef (Eric Warnstedt) mentioned in Food and Wine Magazine as one of the Top 10 New Chefs in the US for 2008.

No, I don't know what they mean by "new." He ain't new - he has been a chef for years.

Hen of the Wood is a type of edible mushroom.

Yes, reservations are almost always needed. The restaurant is small and highly popular.

The other restaurant Mr. Bittman looks at is the Kitchen Table in nearby Richmond VT. It is very close to Exit 11 off I-89 a few minutes south of Burlington.

Like all of the best restaurants in Vermont, the Kitchen Table puts a great emphasis for getting as much of the ingredients locally as they possibly can. This is far more time consuming and expensive than buying from a restaurant supply house but it pays off for the customers in a superior dining experience.

Somehow, Mr. Bittman found the Green Cup quietly located on a small side street in little ole Waitsfield VT. What I thought was a local secret showed up on the radar of a New York restaurant reviewer. I guess that's why they get their jobs - they know how to find the best food no matter where it is. One note on this place - don't expect a fancy schmanchy atmosphere. The food is the only star here.

The Red Hen Bakery was located about a 1/4 mile down the road from our inn until they moved a little over a year ago to a larger facility where they now have a nice cafe. Their bread is served in all or nearly all the best restaurants around these parts. You can get it in some of the local grocery stores and delis too.

I suggest you read over this article - it's very well done and makes for interesting reading and insights into the local culinary scene but it just scratches the surface of what's available here.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
Advice , Food
posted by  grunhaus at  19:07