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30 Apr 2009
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Conde Nast Traveler Magazine Names VT Restaurant One of the Best

I was looking this evening at my Facebook friends/fans pages when I came across some surprising news from Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism Association's Facebook page.

They reported that Claire's Restaurant in little 'ol Hardwick, Vermont had been chosen for one of the most prestigious awards around.

Conde Nast Traveler magazine named it one of the top restaurants in the country, an award they gave to only 43 restaurants nationwide, and just three in New England.

In commenting on Claire's, Conde Nast Traveler said: "Appropriately, Claire's serves simple food that highlights exceptional ingredients from Vermont's fertile agricultural community: slowly leavened breads, peppery radishes, and creamy raw-milk cheese. Local microbrews, artisanal sodas, and ice wines from Shelburne Vineyards keep the drinks as interesting as the cuisine."

Conde Nast Traveler sends out its reviewers anonymously to act like any customer including paying for the meal. There's no "comping a freebie" to get a good review. The restaurant has to stand on its day-to-day quality. Conde Nast did not even tell Claire's they had won the award. A friend of the restaurant happened to see the article and passed the word along to Claire's!

Claire's is a Community Supported Restaurant, a concept where local people make an investment in a community restaurant in order to have a good quality facility in what is usually a rural environment where the economics of such a facility often don't work.

I have not been to Claire's so I can't personally vouch for the quality. And I am only a little surprised there is a good quality restaurant in Hardwick. The phenomenon of top quality restaurants in small villages is not unusual in Vermont.

What I am surprised at is that someone from a big time magazine somehow found Hardwick, Vermont. While it is a fine enough town, and a classic Vermont village, it's not often a destination or even on the way to anything except to Vermont's beautiful but least populated land. It was probably a tip from someone and I would love to know the story behind Conde Nast Travelers' discovery of Hardwick and Claire's.

In the meantime, I'll have to just put it on my long list of first time restaurants to visit. There are so many great restaurants in Vermont I think I will run out of life expectancy and money before I get to them all. But it's a goal.

You'll find Claire's at 41 South Main Street in Hardwick about 30 minutes north of Montpelier and maybe a little less than that west of St. Johnsbury.

There is an interesting article on chef Steven Obranovich at the Seasonal Chef website in which answers questions about his approach to using locally produced ingredients even in the middle of a Vermont winter.

Here's a thought: if you stay with us at the Grunberg Haus, go to dinner at Claire's (about a 45 minute drive), and bring back your review and a copy of the menu for our collection, we'll give you a $20 discount off the normal $115 room rate, double occupancy, for a room with a private bathroom, full cooked breakfast included - offer good anytime May 1 - June 15.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus Inn
Advice , Food
posted by  grunhaus at  20:17