Gather for dinner at The Whip Bar & Grill in Stowe's historic Green Mountain Inn and you'll likely enjoy an experience inspired by chef Steven Truso's childhood. "I come from a large family that was always putting out big meals," the northern Vermont-born Truso explains. "The meeting place for everyone was at the table."
Named for the antique buggy whips that adorn its walls (transportation to the nearly 170-year-old inn was originally via stagecoach), The Whip attracts a convivial crowd. Locals and visitors alike warm themselves by the fire, then settle in at wooden tables topped with flowers.
In the open kitchen, which lines an entire wall of the dining room, blackboard menus announce the specials, while Truso and his staff make a show of preparing dinner. "People enjoy watching us run around in the kitchen and the flames coming up from the grill," Truso says. "Sometimes they'll come right up to the counter, with their kids on their shoulders, and watch."
The Whip had long been known as a steakhouse. But in the five years that he's been chef, Truso, 36, has upgraded the offerings. He has incorporated local ingredients into what he calls New England-style fare. Signature dishes include buttermilk flatbread (rolled thin, char-grilled, then topped with portobello mushrooms, roasted garlic and Fontina cheese); pork chops marinated in maple syrup, whole-grain mustard and apple cider; and chicken breasts stuffed with Granny Smith apples and Vermont cheddar.
Relatively new to the menu is a collection of seasonal fish dishes. In addition to popular items like Duxbury mussels steamed in white wine, garlic and butter-herb broth, the menu board will often feature herb-roasted Atlantic salmon with a zesty tomato jam.
Looking into the future, Truso foreseesnothing but good times ahead. "People come up and tell us how much they enjoyed their meal. It's very satisfying."
Some Enchanted Evening
In the mood for a little mountain romance? Snuggle up at one of these ski-town restaurants.
Krabloonik Snowmass, CO
The 100-year-old log-cabin setting, wild-game dishes (moose, venison, caribou, antelope), a Wine Spectator Award list and 200 sled dogs howling from the adjacent kennel set the scene for amore. Come back in the a.m. for a dogsled ride.
Trail Creek Cabin
Sun Valley, ID
A crackling fire and the strains of a classical guitar greet you at this rustic hideaway (formerly Papa Hemingway's playhouse), which is accessed by horse-drawn sleigh. Specialties include grilled rosemary lamb chops and slow-roasted prime rib.
The Tree Room
Robert Redford's collection of Native American arts and crafts is the perfect backdrop for dinner in this intimate restaurant at Sundance resort. Book a table by the fire for seasonal dishes, such as roasted trout and American Fork lamb.
Catch The Wave
It's an unusual combination of ingredients: a Hawaiian-style eatery (complete with thatched awnings, hula-girl murals and a private tiki party room) and a New Mexico ski town. But Corinna Jang, Chris Litsey and Louis Codone have made their recipe work. A year-and-a-half ago, a passion for the Islands inspired the trio to open Island Coffees & Hawaiian Grill in Taos. Mornings, the place fills up with folks eager for specially roasted Kona Blend Espresso and certified Jamaican Blue coffee, as well as breakfast dishes such as Kona Coffee and chocolate chip pancakes and Maui French toast. At night, tiki torches light the way for Kalua Pig, coconut shrimp, macadamia pesto pasta, noodle bowls and tsunami burgers. Further connections to the Islands-or anywhere else-may be made via T-1 Internet access in the Hang Ten Cyber Café. Aloha.