Into the Belly of the Best
|A Bridge over Tranquil Water: Downtown Stowe (Gretchen Greenhalgh)|
The café in Mansfield Lodge is what you'd expect of most ski resortscrowded, overpriced, and mostly pre-cooked and kept warm by heat lamps, though the fresh-made sandwiches and grill are a nice touch (especially the salmon BLT). Simply put, you're better off packing your own lunch. There are several grocery stores scattered along Mountain Road, but stop in at the Harvest Market (802.253.3800; 1031 Mountain Road) for a fantastic selection of gourmet goods. The Cliff House (www.stowe.com/services/dining_summitseries.php), however, does give hope to slope-side dining the world over. This little restaurant, perched at the top of the gondola, offers well-prepared food at a reasonable price, a kind and civil respite from an otherwise frigid day, and truly gobsmacking views. The Cliff House has also recently re-instituted the Friday Summit Series Dinner, a practice first started back in the days when the eight-person gondola carried only two passengers. For $69 you take a private gondola ridethe car equipped with blankets, warm drinks, and a lanternfollowed by cocktails, a five-course meal, and unbeatable views of the moon-bathed landscape.
In town your options are vast and plentiful, from the wood-fired pizza, pasta, local brews, and friendly atmosphere of Pie in the Sky (802.253.5100; 492 Mountain Road) to the delicious, crepe-like Dutch Pancake Café at The Grey Fox Inn and Resort (1.800.544.8454; www.dutchpancake.com) to the inventive New England cuisine at Golden Eagle Resort's Colonial Café (802.253.4811; www.goldeneagleresort.com).
To get a true taste of Vermont, accept no substitute; McCarthy's (802.253.8626; off Mountain Road near the movie theater) offers inexpensive, no-frills, honest, and earnestly prepared diner food and that essential bottomless cup of joeideal pre-ski fuel and a chance to rub elbows with the locals.
For the higher end of the dining spectrum, head to Winfield's Bistro at Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa (1.800.253.2232; www.stoweflake.com). The decor is intimate, the food is exquisite, and the wine selection (50 by the glass) is downright intoxicating. Charlie B's, Stoweflake's cozy pub, offers food from both Winfield's menu and its own.
For nightlife, Stowe offers two choices. Matterhorn Bar and Restaurant (802.253.8198; www.matterhornbar.com) has long been known as the town's best après-ski bar, but its ambitious smoke-free restaurantwhich serves both sushi and standard faresets it apart from that sometimes divey genre. Best bet is to get there early, hold court over one of the pool tables. Snag some food, and if you can muster the energy (one local swears by their Viagra Rolls), stick around for the nightclub phase, which brings live music and a gaggle of locals and tourists, drinking, smoking, and dancing the night away. The many personas of Matterhorn does make the pub/family restaurant/dancehall a touch schizophrenic, but for some that may add to the charm.
The other Stowe nightlife venue is closer to town along Mountain Road. The Rusty Nail (802.253.NAIL; www.rustynailbar.com) also has a restaurant and offers live music almost nightly. Its overall decorartfully lit, wooden bars, chill atmosphereis also one step up from the Matterhorn...at least until the music starts.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication