The Great Restaurant Ramble Reprise 2007

Day Five - Friday 6 April

On Friday we were able to relax and meander to our heart's content. There was no urgency or need to get anywhere fast as our next dining appointment wasn't until that evening where the Great Restaurant Ramble was due to conclude with a sitting at Hemingway's in Killington, Vermont. So we helped Sandy boil some maple syrup (at least we hopefully didn't hinder him too much), toured the Tall house as well as Ann and Ely's new house. The Tall house, which is virtually finished, is sensational; Ann and Ely's (which Ely assured everyone would be finished by the summer) is going to be equally sensational.

Fortunately, our tour guide had ensured that we were well supplied so although we skipped breakfast, there was plenty of ingredients for sandwich making and while lunch didn't quite consist of the usual gut-busting quantities to which we had become accustomed, it was eminently satisfying. In any event, no point in spoiling one's appetite for the feast to come that evening.

Sometime after 5.00 pm we packed our bags and departed The Ritz on our way back to Stragnanza East at Hanover. The arrangements for this evening culinary delight was that Pen and I would drive across to Killington while Sandy and Pam followed at a discrete distance. In the meantime, Steph and Hope would make their way from Hanover and hopefully, if all the stars and planets were in a celestial alignment, we would rendezvous at Hemingways.

I have had the pleasure of dining at Hemingways once before - on my last trip to Hanover and The Lake. This could easily become a family tradition which I would be most delighted to be regularly involved with. To say the food at Hemingways is good would be an understatement; it is outstanding. The service is flawless and the ambience is outstanding. I can't do it justice so, I suppose, a review from Scenes of Vermont is probably in order:

When reviewing Hemingway's Restaurant, the challenge is not to fall over oneself like some love struck teenager while heaping lavish praise. Nonetheless, it's worth recounting what others have said--Four Stars from the Mobil Guide, Four Diamonds from AAA, the Award of Excellence from the Wine Spectator, one of Food and Wine Magazine's Top 25 Restaurants in America, one of the Conde Nast Traveler's 50 Distinguished Restaurants in the U.S.--the accolades have piled up like snow during a good Nor'easter.

However, unlike many Vermont restaurants, which do their best to imitate so-called New American Cuisine, Hemingway's is an original...a restaurant that not only plays with the "big boys" in New York, Boston, and San Francisco, but one that beats them handily at their own game.

The artful presentation, the impeccable service and extensive knowledge of the waitstaff, the degree of creativity that goes into the menu, the quality of the ingredients, the depth of the wine list--they make it look easy.

The last time I had the pleasure of dining at Hemingways I remember being distinctly underwhelmed by the apparent decrepidness of the building. A little research tells me that the building that houses the restaurant is known as the 1860 Asa Briggs home and was once a resting place for weary pioneers traveling through Vermont on the Old Stage Road, now Rt. 4. It was, in fact, the stage coach stop on the post road from Boston to Albany. It seems that the Briggs family provided room and board for the grand sum of 75 cents a night. I guess our meal was somewhat more than 75 cents but it was worth every penny - twice the bargain at half the price.

Just to prove we were there....

And so, the Great Restaurant Ramble - 2007 came to a conclusion. A fantastic week with a plethora of epicurean delights, great visits and great company. Naturally, we had to wind down so Saturday evening we enjoyed dinner with the inmates at the Finishing School and on Easter Sunday we had to force down some racks of lamb at Stragnanza East.

The British Airways check in staff at Boston airport looked somewhat alarmingly at our respective waistlines when we checked in for our flight home on Monday evening. I could see them doing a bit of mental arithmetic calculating whether we should be charged excess baggage on the baggage we were carrying around our waists but in the end I guess they concluded that the plane could still get off the ground, and so it proved.

A great trip and a great holiday. Here's to next year!

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