We rented a house at Shelburne Farms for a week earlier this month. Here is my report:
1. Simon Pearce, Quechee, VT. Without question the culinary highlight of our trip was finding this restaurant at the recommendation of others on this board. This is an elegant restaurant within the Simon Pearce glass factory and store off of Route 4 in Quechee, not far from Woodstock. We stopped for lunch in both directions, and had two wonderful meals. It's the type of place where you can just sense the freshness of all of the ingredients. The first visit, I had an a fabulous lamb burger, served with a delicious potato salad (and I don't normally like potato salad). On the way home, I had a bowl of cheddar cheese soup, a calamari salad and a great warm chocolate cake with coffee ice cream. They also have a nice children's menu. (And if you bring kids, check out the live owls in the store across the street from Simon Pearce.) If this restaurant were closer to Boston, I would be a regular.
2. Smokejacks, Burlington, VT. Smokejacks seems to be the most popular Burlington restaurant on this board. We had lunch there one afternoon, and enjoyed it enough to return for dinner. Unfortunately, our friends' two-year-old did not cooperate through dinner, which impacted our experience. But we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch. I had a pulled pork quesadilla, which could have used a little more meat, but was delicious nonetheless. My wife had a special, which was billed as a burrito but seemed more to me like a wrap. It, too, was delicious. And our three-year-old had a very creative and tasty mac-and-cheese made with bacon and onions. I don't remember much about our dinner other than the chaos brought on by the kids, but I do recall drinking several of one of their drink specials -- it was called something like "the best drink in the world," or something hyperbolic like that. In any event, it was very good -- fruity without being sweet, perfect for a hot summer evening.
3. Vermont Pub & Brewery, Burlington, VT. Basically what you'd expect from a brewpub. Good beer selection. Solid, albeit not stellar, bar food. They do offer an extensive menu, and notwithstanding that it's a bar, it was a good choice with kids.
4. Sneakers, Winooski, VT. We ate breakfast twice at Sneakers, a diner-like store front restaurant just northeast of Burlington. It could have used a little more consistency (the pancakes were better the second time than the first; the potatoes were better the first time than the second), but we were nevertheless pleased with the basic down-and-dirty (and cheap) breakfasts. The omelette I had on our first visit (with cheddar cheese and onions) and the blueberry pancakes my wife had on our second visit were particularly good.
5. The Shed, Stowe, VT. Based on recommendations on this board, I really wanted to go to the Mist Grill in Waterbury, but we couldn't get our timing to work out. So we lunched at The Shed in Stowe instead. Like the Vermont Pub & Brewery, they offer an extensive selection of ok, but not great, pub food. I get the sense that this is what you get in Stowe -- good but not great. Maybe I'm wrong.
6. Coffee Shop, Stowe, VT. I don't recall the name of this place, but it's a coffee shop on Mountain Road just when you turn off of Route 100. The latte was fine but nothing special. The chocolate chip cookies, on the other hand, were extraordinary.
7. La Villa Mediterranean Bistro, Shelburne, VT. La Villa is a casual italian restaurant in a stip mall on Route 7 in Shelburne. We used it for take out a couple of times last year, and did so again this year. They have a large selection of gourmet and "regular" pizzas, as well as salads, pasta and a few relatively standard Italian entrees. We have always found La Villa to be a solid choice, particularly if children are involved. And although we always have taken out from La Villa, the dining room looks comfortable. A good choice for a casual meal if you're in the area.
8. Inn at Shelburne Farms, Shelburne, VT. The house we rented was on the property at Shelburne Farms, so we had to eat at least one meal there. (We ate there two or three time last year.) Like last year, we enjoyed the restaurant very much. It is more upscale than most of what you find in the area. Some wear jacket and tie, although "smart casual" is perfectly appropriate as well. I had a delicious gazpacho and wonderful duck. I don't recall what the rest of our group had, but everyone seemed to enjoy their meal. The only thing lacking here is air conditioning! Don't go on a really hot night.