Dining In The East: January 2002

Travel East

Snowvillage Inn
Snowville, N.H.

(Near Attitash Bear Peak, Cranmore)

New Hampshire, alas, is not know for its culinary acumen, so when you find a talented chef, the smart thing to do isfollow her wherever she happens to hang her toque. Laurel Tessier started out cooking at the Appalachian Mountain Club's Madison Hut, did a stint as sous-chef at Snowvillage in 1995, dazzled at the Notchland Inn for a few years and then took some time out to hone her chops at the prestigious Johnson & Wales culinary school. She returned tothis 1912 aerie¿plunked on a hilltop six miles south ofConway¿in 1998. One can only hope she's here to stay. New owner Kevin Flynn, whose previous B&B was in the high-expectation Hamptons, is impressed by Tessier'screativity, and once you've tasted her spicy Moroccan chickpea chermoula or pumpkin-parmesan risotto (entrees run $17-$24), you will be, too. It feels odd to be savoring such high-flying culinary leger-de-main in a carved-pine dining room out of Heidi, but the dissonance only serves to underscore the universal language of good food.

Information: 603-447-2818 or 800-447-4345; www.snowvillageinn.com.

Mill on the Floss
New Ashford, Mass.

(Near Brodie, Jiminy Peak)
Rumors of an enchanting French country restaurant so close to the Berkshire slopes set my scoff-meter soaring. I'd seen that place. It's a motel. Well, it pays to delve, because there beside the tidy units is an 18th-century mill where Chef Maurice Champagne, a Montrealer, has indeed created a waking dream of the classic auberge: low ceilings crisscrossed with beams, copper pots gleaming and, wafting about, that intoxicating aroma¿part bubbling stock, part joie de vivre¿of classically prepared French cuisine. This is not the place to demand fusiony innovation: The menu hasn't changed all that much since 1973. But if you find yourself craving a perfectly done duckling à l'orange, say, or sweetbreads au beurre noir (entrees run about $22 to $28), you have come to the right place.

Information: 413-458-9123 or www.members.tripod.com/themotf.

Friends Lake Inn
Chestertown, N.Y.

(Near Gore Mountain)
The tanners who used to take their three squares at this 1860s boarding house would drop their jaws at the rarefied fare served these days in the tin-ceilinged dining room. Chef Tim Stephenson has an active imagination and a deft touch: Picture a barely-there herb crepe enrobing chunks of lobster, scallops, slivered green onion shoots and toasted macadamias¿and that's just for starters (an $11 appetizer). For the main event, consider maple-lacquered duckling or venison chops with a salpicon of pumpkin and black truffles ($23-$29). You get the drift. Funny: Owners Sharon and Greg Taylor, who resuscitated the derelict inn in 1984, figured they'd better lay in some special wines to lure visitors to this remote spot (15 minutes from Gore), so they've amassed 21,000 bottles to date, good for a Wine Spectator Grand Award. But the food is compelling enough on its own: New York City panache at Upstate prices.

Information: 518-494-4751 or www.friendslake.com.