Maple Leaf Malt & Brewing
(Near Mt. Snow)
John Foote is the kind of beer-lover who began brewing his own five-gallon batches in college. Maple Leaf Malt & Brewing Co., a handsome boutique operation housed in Wilmington's original general store, is not only his dream come true; it's a continuation of family tradition. His roots in the area go back four generations, and his uncle, a local baker, helped develop a menu that backs Foote's half-dozen brews beautifully. The enormous Brewery Bratwurst Platter, served with a heap of hot German potato salad, is stewed in Deerfield Valley Dark stout. That same ale imparts a pleasant kick to the Vermont cheddar-topped baked stuffed portabella. Teetotalers and children can enjoy Maple Leaf's own craft-brewed root beer. Most patrons, though, are only too happy to congregate barside by the ingenious maple-trunk tap.
Maple Leaf Malt & Brewing Co., 3 North Main St., Wilmington, Vt.; 802-464-9900.
(Near Stowe, Sugarbush, Mad River Glen, Bolton Valley)
Who would have guessed that such a cool building-an 1807 brick grist mill-lay hidden within a stone's throw of I-89? Just some top-notch foodies who happened to be living nearby and got the notion to reverse a couple of letters and open a restaurant. If you're heading for Stowe, this stop is a must. Don't be dissuaded by the laid-back little bakery; the action is downstairs, in a granite-walled snuggery where elements of the mill have been put to creative use. The coffee-hand-roasted on-site-is reason enough to stop in. While you're at it, you might as well breakfast on hot apple pie with cheddar, lunch on pulled-duck panini or dine on chive-crusted rack of lamb. All are state-of-the-art-not surprising, considering co-owner Steve Schimoler, as chairman of ChefExpress.net, does R&D for chefs across the U.S. The Mist's piece de resistance is a Sunday-night "family supper," where a half-dozen blackboard specials are dished out to in-the-know aficionados for a mere $10 to $16 per person.
Information: Mist Grill, 92 Stowe St., Waterbury, Vt.; 802-244-2233.
The Spotted Cow
(Near Sugarbush, Mad River Glen)
There's something magical about Bridge Street, that corner of Waitsfield where a hodgepodge of vintage storefronts spills off Route 100 toward a covered bridge. Now this enchanted neighborhood has the restaurant it deserves. The Spotted Cow is a nifty little eatery paneled in red birch with cherry molding. Head chef Eric Bauer, whose résumé includes Chez Henri, a Mad River Valley institution, brings his skills to bear on an elegant dinner menu, in which herb-and-garlic-crusted rack of lamb, for instance, comes napped in a Riesling-black truffle sauce (the most expensive entree option at $24). Several dishes reflect owner Jay Young's Bermuda background, including the turbo-charged fish chowder spiked with sherry peppers and black rum-a family recipe dating to the 18th century. Also served at lunch, this high-octane bouillabaisse could fuel a kick-ass afternoon at nearby Sugarbush or Mad River.
Information: Spotted Cow, Bridge Street Marketplace, Waitsfield, Vt.; 802-496-5151.