Suri and I are fast approaching our 20th wedding anniversary. To celebrate, we went to Hen of the Wood, one of Vermont’s most-acclaimed restaurants. Wow–this was seriously one of the best meals of my life. Suri started with kale and Swiss chard cooked with a little olive oil, lemon, and pine nuts; I had braised pork cheeks with a maple/mustard creme fraiche. The pork was the only part of the evening that was less than outstanding for me. Suri liked them and I admit that they were tasty, but the pork was just too salty for me.
For mains I had roasted rabbit with parsnip puree and a stock reduction; Suri had the seared duck breast with grilled ramps and a baby mustard green salad. These were . . . perfect. I kind of have a hard time finding anything more to say about them. They were the pinnacle of what those proteins are capable of achieving. Both the rabbit and the duck breast were the most flavorful, delicious things I’ve ever eaten and I cannot choose which was better.
For dessert we had the cheese platter–a selection of flavorful American cheeses (no matter what Mark Bittman says) with hazelnuts, crisp buttered toast, and rhubarb butter. I also got a scoop of vanilla buttermilk ice cream; by that point, I was unsurprised that it was the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten. All the usual things people say about this restaurant are true: beautiful location, emphasis on locally sourced food, rustic decor, knowledgeable waitstaff. If you’ve got the money for a special meal (dinner came to $110 with tip, and that was with only one glass of wine), it gets every recommendation I can offer.