Bennington and Route 7A

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North America » United States » Vermont » Manchester
February 29th 2020
Published: March 8th 2020
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Still full from dinner last night, we just had some coffee before we headed out for the day. Kitty comfortably on the bed while we went out into the cold. The first stop today was Bennington Pottery Barn. I have had some of this potter for over 25 years and when ever we are in the area, we stop by to pick up new pieces or replace a piece that has broken. Today it was the latter. While the pottery is molded by machine, it is all hand finished to get rid of the rough edges left by the molds and presses. In addition to lots of pottery, they also have two black shop cats, we did not take their picture, because we didn’t want to become social media stars.

After our stop for pottery we headed up the hill to Mt. Anthony Country Club for lunch. While it is a country club the restaurant (The Grille) is open to the public. There was an event being held in one of the banquet rooms and lunch was being served to the public in the bar area. There was a large fireplace with a nice fire going and a table of 6 women that lunch. They were all in their 70’s and were having a great time discussing their travels, grandchildren, etc. One of them was running for President of some social club and they all had campaign buttons.

The fire was great and the view was nice as well. During fall foliage I am sure it is fantastic. Lunch was good, we started with a cup of Vt. Cheddar Tomato Bisque. It was the best tomato soup I have had in a long time. Not sure why it was called a bisque (no rice) but it was full of Vt. Cheddar. Jerry had a Ruben (minus the Russian Dressing) on marble rye, with sweet potato fires. I had a lobster roll with fries. Both were good and reasonably priced. Best part, Kitty got a bit of lobster for a treat when we got back in the room

After lunch we continue up the hill to Monument Ave and the Bennington Monument. This is a memorial to the Battle of Bennington during the revolutionary war. From there it was down the hill to the site of the Catamount Tavern, where Ethan Allen organized the Green Mountain Boys to capture Fort Ticonderoga from the Red Coats. All that left of the tavern is a statute of a Catamount, which is the native mountain line to Vermont, which is now extinct. All of this is in Old Bennington, which was the original town. The First Congregational church is here (oldest church in VT) and the cemetery next to it has several revolutionary war heroes buried in it and Robert Frost.

I should mention that the temperature did not get above 23 all day and the feels like temperature was more like 12. While we were walking around our faces were pretty numb. We left the cemetery and headed up historic Route 7a back to Manchester. This route is very scenic, more so during fall foliage and is dotted with small Vermont hamlets, villages and towns. We found a covered bridge in East Arlington and just outside of Arlington we stopped at a Sugar Shack. A Sugar Shack is where the make, you guessed it, the famed Vermont Maple Syrup. We did a tasting and decided that between amber, grade A dark and the grade A very dark, we liked the very dark the best. We bought a bottle of the very dark, maple horseradish mustard, smoked cheddar and some extra sharp cheddar.

That was pretty much the day. We continued up Route 7a back to Manchester to the hotel, checked in on Tarragon, he got his lobster, and then went to explore the old village of Manchester. It is all of about 4 blocks. We did stop at a kitchen store, but I was good and didn’t buy a thing.

We are now in the room, fireplace on watching the lite snow. We will walk about 14 blocks to dinner (yes it will be cold). Tonight, is at the fancy hotel in town and my official birthday dinner. I get to be 5? for an entire extra day.

The Equinox – Dinner at the Chop House

The nights restaurant was just a few blocks up the road from our hotel so we walked. It was bitter cold, not Quebec City cold, but still about 17 degrees. It was a crisp walk in the fresh Vermont Air. Many of the side walks in Manchester are made out of Vermont Marble, add snow and you have what I call a law suit waiting to happen, but it is very charming. It only took about 10 minutes to walk to the Equinox, which is sort of the Grand Dame of lodging in Manchester. It is massive and there are several wings. To get to the Chop House you had to pass the hotel bar and go through the Tavern ( a word on that in a moment), you then arrive at a long dinning room with a very nice fireplace in the center (gas not wood but ambiance none the less).

The location of the Chop House being in the back of the Tavern, gives you pause as you walk through the place where the vast majority of people are eating, their burgers, onion rings, and dare I say buffalo chicken wings (what is the point) and the screaming children are everywhere. This gives you the feeling that you may have made a mistake choosing this as the spot for an intimate birthday dinner. However, when you finally arrive, which seems like an eternity, to the dinning room you are very pleasantly surprised. Nice large two tops, white table cloth and the fire a blaze. We were seated at a nice table with a semi view of the fire place, comfortable seating. If I stopped here you would think, oh they are going to have a lovely dinner. But wait there is more, so much more to come.

After we were seated, Raymond offered us water and cocktails, it was my birthday, not a major Paris worthy one, but my birthday, so we ordered a half bottle of French Champagne, I do not recall the cellar, as this is a week after the fact, but it was naturally very good. This is where the night took a turn for the worse. Every table except two were couples, the table behind us was a family of three, but they had the best-behaved daughter (under 12) I have ever seen, you really didn’t even know she was there. The real trouble was at the far end of the dinning room, although it felt as if they were sitting with you. A group of 10 women, celebrating numerous birthdays and worst yet a bachelorette party. Now you know I would not even mention this if they were a well-behaved group, but in the words of the very nice and funny women sitting next to me, “I didn’t come to Vermont to sit next to New Jersey.” If you are familiar with the show Pose and one of the main characters Electra, she had a saying she used in an upscale restaurant she hosted at in New York, “We don’t cater to the bridge and tunnel crowd”, if only should would have been here tonight.

To make a long and loud story short, the upshot is they were a raucous group of women, having a great time at the expense of the rest of us, two tables left early, the couple across the room from us rolled their eyes at the same time I did, which made us laugh, and of course the great couple next to us, the woman actually got up, walked to the host stand and complained. They did seem to calm down after that, or was it that they were now stuffing their mouths with food so couldn’t scream.

That aside, the evening was good as was the food. There were a few service issues but they were quickly corrected and we got a free flourless chocolate torte to make up for the Jersey 10. We did have a nice conversation with the couple next to us, some of it political, but we were all on the same side, any body but Trump, vote for Bernie and Biden only if we have too.

On to dinner. We started with a jumbo shrimp cocktail, what was exceptional about this dish was the horseradish on the side, the cocktail sauce was plain, but when you added the horseradish to it, it was good and it had a kick. We saved it for the entrée. We both then had a salad, Jerry a Caesar, standard restaurant issue, brioche croutons a nice touch, and I had a version of a chopped salad, honestly don’t remember what was on it, and did not have my normal little black book with me to write it down. The Parker House rolls were good, yes, I ate bread, there are no carbs on your birthday.

The entrées were very good. Jerry had a 9 oz filet perfectly cooked medium rare, with two sauces a béarnaise (what else) and a creamy horseradish, which he added the horseradish form earlier to. I wanted the nights special prime rib, but they had just served the last piece, so I had to settle for medium rare lamb jobs, oh how I suffer. I choose a blue cheese house steak sauce, which I am pretty sure was just A-1 sauce. The lamb was cooked perfectly and very taste, and yes had to pick it up by the bone so as to not waste anything (just like the French). We had two sides with this a baked potato (as large as the state of Idaho) 1 lb., which came with all of the sides, which were not enough and had to be added to, especially the pat of butter they gave you. We also had some very nice roasted Brussel Sprouts. This was all finished off with a Gran Cru bottle of Clos Cantenac St. Emillion, it was perfect with the entrée’s and more expensive than our meals.

Even with the Jersey 10, it was a very nice birthday dinner and will definitely return to this spot the next time we just happen to be in Manchester. I already mentioned dessert.

The walk home was colder than the walk there, but we had a nice fireplace and a warm kitty to return to.

Drive Home

The next day we
Covered BrdigeCovered BrdigeCovered Brdige

hear those sleigh bells ringing?
had breakfast in the hotel, Jerry eggs benedict, good but not enough sauce, and I had pancakes, just so I could have Vermont Maple syrup. The drive home was pleasant, and fortunately the train back was express. Tarragon was happy to be home, but you could tell he also very much enjoyed getting out of the apartment.

Next big trip is 3 weeks in Ireland and Scotland in May and June. Virus be damned we are going, as half of the trip, including plane tickets are already paid for.

Additional photos below
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9th March 2020

Fall should be beautiful
It sounds like that area will be beautiful to visit in the fall! I love the historical sites! It will be great to revisit your travel blog when we travel there!

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