While I often get seduced by decor, my husband is all about the food. And he LOVED Doc Ponds. As did my daughter. This hipster newcomer has the perfect menu for apres ski, from housemade French onion dip with BBQ chips, to a gorgeous local cheese and charcuterie plate. What got my husband’s full attention though, was a Fred Flinstonesque pork chop with house baked beans and cabbage slaw. We have a rule in our family that you can’t eat anything bigger than your head, but we made an exception in this case. However the pub steak with mashed was the perfect size for lighter eaters and you’ll be happy choosing a few small plates or salads from the fun menu and calling it dinner. Nothing is over $19 and burgers are a sweet $7. But what folks come here for is the beer. Over 60 varieties are offered including five hard ciders. The young staff is absolutely delightful, definitely save room for the daily special home-made pie, and come early or you’ll have a wait. The locals love it here.
Last time we were in Stowe we couldn’t get in to Plate, so this time I reserved ahead. The smallish, fifty-seater was buzzing when we arrived a bit early for our reservation. We took a seat at the bar for a local hard cider and knew, at that moment, that we were in for a good night. The restaurant was all cozy and Christmasy, lit by de rigeur (at least for Stowe) Edison bulbs, with Luther Vandross playing softly in the background, and the kitchen open and bustling. When I asked my daughter for one word to sum up the restaurant (e-list team member in training), she said, “romantic.” Yup. Of the restaurants we tried, Plate is the most serious about their food. The menu was chockablock with interesting items and everything that could be was sourced locally or made in house. What do you expect from a couple of Los Angeles transplants? You’ll have trouble deciding between apple cider-brined roast chicken with walnut apple and butternut hash. Or seared beef tenderloin with white beans, pears and oyster mushrooms. At the next table, a contented patron was slurping up matzo ball soup. There is NOTHING better on a chilly, rainy night. Everything looked delish. Even the bread basket was done well, filled with housemade spicy cornbread and Jan’s addictive Farmhouse Cranberry Crisps. Puffs of tender gnocchi with blistered tomatoes positively melted in my mouth and a salad of winter lettuces, beets, blue cheese, hazelnut and cranberries (fresh not dried) was a happy marriage of flavors. We skipped the matzoh ball soup to save room, so we’ll just have to go back. I most certainly didn’t get my fill of Plate.
This brewery/bistro has changed hands since we were last here and now the venerated team from Michael’s On The Hill is at the helm. The menu is still super family-friendly: steak frites and grilled salmon to bratwurst and truffled mac & cheese. Or head here apres-ski for the homey, modern ski lodge feel: stone fireplace, oversized banquettes and exploded cow prints. You know how I love a mini-portion; you can order beer in teeny two ounce glasses or spring for a tasting of four. Me, I don’t know much about beer, but I was awfully fond of the Bohemian Pilsner. Even better was the Vermont Apple Cider Martini. The food aims to please with large portions and plenty of options for all types of eaters.
If you’ve already read my reviews in Stowe – Stay, you know about my love affair with Edson Hill Inn. Our cozy family dinner in the spare and elegant dining room was my favorite night of our stay in Stowe. I’m not including an image of my plate as the photo did not do justice to my lamb Shepherd’s Pie dolloped with parsnip mashed potatoes, but it was definitely something to write home about. Lighter eaters will be happy with the cider-glazed salmon with garlic butter spinach. Plenty of gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options, too. Choose from either the Tavern menu at $15 – 22 or the dinner menu in the dining room $22 – 40, or head downstairs to the moody tavern for more casual fare.