The newest family dining near Sugarbush and Mad River Glen
When Hurricane Irene swept through Vermont in August 2011 it hit towns like Moretown and Waitsfield in the Mad River Valley especially hard. Although Waitsfield’s famous covered bridge remained intact, some buildings next to it didn’t fare as well; the popular Green Cup Café near the water’s edge never reopened after sustaining heavy damage.
But the good news for skiers at both Sugarbush and Mad River Glen is that the building that housed the Green Cup has been restored and as of late 2012 was once again humming – this time not with one dining option but with three. I had the good luck on a recent visit to check out all of them.
Need lunch for a day of skiing at Sugarbush or Mad River Glen? The Bridge Street Butchery is your answer. Stop by on your way to the slopes and choose from a list of sandwiches, each named appropriately enough for a famous bridge. Not surprisingly, I liked the look of the Pont Notre-Dame – roast beef, chevre, carmelized onion, and caper aoli on a baguette. Another option is to do as we did and choose from the large case of sandwich meats and salamis and make your own.
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If you’ve rented a condo near Sugarbush, this is also a great place to pick up some provisions like fresh local eggs, bread, a variety of cuts of meat and seafood, sushi, homemade soups and salads or prepared foods that you could easily heat up for dinner.
The day we visited the maple dijon salmon looked especially good.
Want a pick-me-up after a day on the slopes? The Sweet Spot offers treats galore. All four members of my family did the exact same thing when we walked into this cubby of a shop – inhaled deeply and then let out a satisfied sigh. The air is thick with chocolate and the smell of good things baking. Run by two sisters – Sarina Gulisano and Lisa Curtis – this bakery/ice-cream parlor/coffee shop is a most welcome addition to this corner of town.
We were already familiar with the colder side of the menu – Sarina’s husband John Vitko has been selling his Scout’s Honor ice cream at the Waitsfield Farmer’s Market for several years and on many a summer Saturday both my sons have eaten it for breakfast. The ice cream is lovingly made in small batches using local ingredients and last summer ten-year-old Tommy actually said he thinks it is better than the ice cream at Berthillon in Paris, no small praise coming from him.
Both boys proved their loyalty and love by ordering the ice cream on two different visits over the course of Presidents’ Day weekend – even on the day when the temperature hovered around zero. We sampled maple, maple mocha swirl, and coco peppermint and all were divine – creamy, smooth, not too sweet, and with a deep rich flavor. The maple alone is worth driving to Vermont for. And the marshmallows in the coco peppermint? You got it – they are homemade too.
If ice cream isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other treats as well including gluten-free chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting, which Sarina assured us do not taste gluten free, macaroons, fudgey brownies, carrot cake, and molasses ginger cookies. On the more breakfasty side of things, there’s also a New York crumb cake that’s thick with topping.
Can’t choose between a cookie or brownie and ice cream? Why not get both in the form of a homemade ice cream sandwich. On Saturdays and Sundays, homemade bagels in a variety of flavors are also available. And the coffee (from local Middlebury roaster Awake) is perfect.
Whether you’re looking for a family dinner or a date-night restaurant destination, Peasant fits the bill. Crimson walls make the small space cozy, as does the smell of rustic Italian fare emanating from the tiny kitchen. The size means that if you’ve got a really restless toddler this might not be the place for you, but families are definitely welcome. We saw numerous older kids dining at Peasant the night we were there and Mary Ellen Alberti, who owns the restaurant with her husband Chris, introduced herself to Tommy and seven-year-old Teddy and chatted with them about the books they were reading.
The menu, which changes seasonally, has four sections – first courses, salads, pasta (portions of which are sized as in Italy, so that you can enjoy other courses before or after it), and meat-laden entrées. We did a pretty good job of sampling from each area. I started with the bean soup, thick with olive oil and lemon.
Tommy just had to try the Tuscan meatballs, which were served in a white wine, rosemary sauce. They came with a slab of bread that was a very handy mop for the deliciousness at the bottom of the plate. Then Matt and I each had a salad, mine made with brussel sprouts and chunky pieces of salty bacon and his with beets and a tarragon crema.
Teddy and Tommy both went heavy on the meat for their main course; Teddy sampling the cassoulet made with chicken, pork, and house-made spicy sausage. Tommy had one of the night’s specials, which was venison stew. Both were flavorful and cooked perfectly.
And Matt and I ended our meal with different pasta dishes – I with the tagliatelle with a mushroom gorgonzola cream sauce that came topped with a swirl of sun-dried tomato pesto that was both unexpected and delicious. Matt had a pork ragout served over penne and topped with asiago cheese.
The entrée portions at Peasant were very large and we took home enough of both Tommy and Teddy’s food to serve as another meal. Children with smaller appetites could easily order a dish from the first course or pasta list and have plenty of food for a meal.
Peasant has a full bar and Matt and I both enjoyed artisanal cocktails, his made with Vermont-made Barr Hill gin. The wine list had many reasonably priced choices on it and we ordered a nice bottle of Montepulciano for $25.
Since we had indulged at the Sweet Spot, we didn’t even ask to see the dessert menu at Peasant. I’m glad we didn’t, because if the boys had seen they could get more Scout’s Honor ice cream there I’m sure they would have angled for it.
It makes me truly happy to see this corner of Bridge Street, which was so devastated less than two years ago, back in force with such great choices for both dining in and taking out. I’m certainly looking forward to lots of that ice cream next summer.
This post was written in conjunction with my relationship with Mountain Reservations as one of its Mountain Ambassadors.