Friday, September 9, 2011

Five New England Restaurants Perfect for the Fall Season

1761 Old Mill restaurant, Westminster, Mass.
Perhaps it's a mix of location, dining atmosphere and foods compatible with autumn, but I have found the following restaurants as ideal destinations during the fall season:

Salem Cross Inn West Brookfield, Mass. -- The historic home, roaring fireplace, post and beam design, rolling green fields outside and some delicious Yankee fare make the Salem Cross Inn an ideal fall dining spot, situated in the beautiful New England town of West Brookfield. Love the maple jack chicken sauteed with Applewood bacon scallions and sundried tomatoes. The chicken is then topped with Monterey jack cheese and a dijon mustard sauce. Yum!

The 1761 Old Mill, Westminster, Mass. -- This former saw mill features a waterfall, covered bridge, duck pond, long outdoor front porch and on the inside, a roaring fireplace (do I detect a pattern here?) and charming post and beam dining rooms. The steak, seafood and chicken dishes are quite good, although not up to par with the Salem Cross Inn. The best bet is the extensive Sunday morning brunch that includes some delicious popovers and some very nicely done chicken and seafood items. There's also a really good country store on the lower level!

Vanilla Bean Cafe, Pomfret, Conn. This restored 1740s farmhouse is so cozy! Owners Barry & Brian Jessurun run this restaurant with pride and joy -- the farthest thing from just another generic big box restaurant. The comfort food breakfast, lunch and dinner items are amongst the best we've ever experienced. All this, plus folk entertainment at night! The atmosphere is just right -- informal, pleasant and with rural and modern charm combined. The location is fantastic, too, right in the heart of Pomfret, a quintessential small New England town. My favorite dish is the smoked mozzarella and basil ravioli with a cream sauce, asparagus, and roasted red peppers. If I had to take an out of town guest to a local restaurant, the Vanilla Bean Cafe would be it!

Parker's Maple Barn, Mason, N.H. Rustic and located in a remote area, this busy country restaurant serves huge breakfasts, very tasty lunches and a lot of items made with maple syrup. I love the maple ribs. maple frappe and fresh roast turkey dinner here. On the premises, there's also a gift shop. The area countryside with deep forest, lakes and ponds is a amazingly scenic destination during the fall foliage season.

Clay Hill Farm, Cape Neddick, Maine This special "date night" caliber restaurant is not located near the ocean, but rather in some beautiful countryside. Located in a rambling, restored and refined farmhouse, Clay Hill Farm offers modern cuisine without the stuffiness that sometimes mars upscale restaurants. They source many of their food  locally, and you can taste it in the greens and other vegetables. Clay Hill Farm also offers some very pleasant piano entertainment at night.  I've had lobster bisque, roasted half duckling (with merlot blueberry sauce) and grilled salmon that makes me wish this restaurant was located closer to our Boston area home. We'd be there as often as our budget allows!

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