Visitors to the Dorset Quarry can be seen jumping off of rocks at various heights. PHOTO: EVA DEITCH FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
town culture and style instead. Siblings Tim and Tyne Daly are on stage together for the first time at the Dorset Theatre Festival this season. The rambling Northshire Bookstore in Manchester hides a treehouse reading nook for children and a clothing section of flowing hippie caftans among the new, used and rare books. The Armani Outlet in Manchester offers Armani Black Label and Collection items for as low as 90% off (I have the fur coat to prove it). The only Marimekko outlet in America is down the street.
Traditionally, all this fun hasn’t been matched with sophisticated places to stay and eat, but no longer. The region’s first modern fine-dining option, SoLo Farm & Table, in the small town of Londonderry, about 20 minutes north of Stratton, opened in 2011. It was an act of madness or kismet by Chloe and Wesley Genovart, a young married couple who were both working in the restaurant industry in New York City, she as the maître d’ at Manhattan’s Per Se, and Wesley as the chef at cult-following tapas bar Degustation. On a trip to visit Ms. Genovart’s parents in Manchester, the couple impulse-bought an 18th-century farmhouse at a foreclosure sale.
Now it’s the kind of destination restaurant people plan their weekends around, with a seasonal menu sourced from nearby farms and enhanced by SoLo’s own gardens. Last year, the couple debuted a second restaurant, Honeypie, on Route 30 just past the Stratton Access Road, turning a “rundown, nasty gas station” into an industrial-styled family place for burgers and sausage rolls, using high- quality, whole-animal ingredients. “It’s a burger joint, but a badass burger joint,” Ms. Genovart said.
The Downtown Grocery, a bit further north in Ludlow, is also a farm-to-table spot, and on a recent visit had a notably mixed crowd of old men in seersucker and young people with beards and tattoos. The Williamsville Eatery, established in 2014 by a father-son team in Williamsville, a white-clapboard small town, extols its farm-fresh ingredients, too, along with craft beers and small-batch wines in a dining room that was once the town’s general store.
Another local culinary trend is the elevation of ye-olde-taverns, whose dank interiors and questionable attempts at modernization are legendary in this part of Vermont. At the White House Tavern, the restaurant at the Hermitage Club’s graceful, century-old White House Inn in downtown Wilmington, diners dip fries into bone-marrow mayo and nibble on pigs ears from nearby Ephraim Farm. The Cask & Kiln Kitchen is also in Wilmington, but the dining room, with its exposed wood and filament lights, looks like it could be in Manhattan, as does the upstairs bar, known for its cocktails. The Taconic Hotel’s Copper Grouse serves updated classics like cheddar-ale soup and cider-brined chicken in a room