December 13 2012
Christina Ohly Evans
first time I visited The Pitcher Inn – with my then boyfriend, some 15-plus
years ago – we skidded off the road and ended up embedded in a snow
bank. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful weekend and some years later
that guy is now my husband and we’ve added two kids to the mix. When
we were discussing a New England winter getaway – this time as a group – votes
were cast for everything from snowshoeing to skiing off-piste to
sitting quietly by a crackling fire, enjoying fine food and a hefty dose of
tranquility (my request). The Pitcher Inn, with its porches and gables (second picture),
spacious suites and old-world feel, ticked all the boxes – and then some.
In addition to being located in the picture-postcard-perfect Vermont village of Warren, complete with white church spires and a bustling general store, it is just minutes away from the downhill runs at both Mad River Glen and Sugarbush, two of the east coast’s best ski resorts.
After a lengthy drive (Warren is five hours from New York, three from Boston) we arrived late at night to a glowing inn that exuded warmth and charm. Originally a Civil War-era lodging house, the Pitcher Inn has been refashioned by local architect David Sellers, and the old – 19th-century oil lamps, vintage lift booths and toboggans – are seamlessly mixed with state-of-the-art technology and funky (at times) decor. Eleven guest rooms – each with a local theme such as Mountain (third picture), Lodge, or Ski (first picture; all from $325, including breakfast and afternoon tea) – offer vast beds with fine linens and all sorts of entertainments that kept everyone in our group thoroughly amused. Ours was the Ski room and, with its leather couches, vintage artwork and ski gear, not to mention a profusion of rough-hewn wood beams and birch accents, we felt utterly removed from city life.
Add to our luxurious surroundings incredible food and drink, and we’re talking one seriously restorative weekend. There are several dining options but my favourite was the casual Tracks tavern with its scrumptious Maplebrook Farm burrata with crostini ($14) and grilled-to-perfection Niman Ranch Steak with fries and aioli ($18). Despite its remote location, Vermont is a gourmand’s paradise (there’s a profusion of great, locally sourced produce – artisanal bakers, cheesemakers and brewers abound). The fine dining, fire-lit restaurant, 275 Main, was excellent, too. Noted chef Sue Schickler produced indescribably delicious seared sea scallops with a pistachio-English pea salad and lemon beurre blanc ($16) that I shall not soon forget. I won’t drone on about the desserts, but suffice to say, the hand-churned ice creams and pumpkin pot de crème ($10) were beyond compare.
With endless hiking trails, charming antiques shops and challenging slopes all within a hop, skip and a jump, this quintessential New England town has much to offer in any season, though I have a soft spot for a snowy winter stay. Regardless of time of year, what really sets The Pitcher Inn apart is the cheerful Vermonter staff. A visit there feels much like staying at an old friend’s house, albeit in a bygone era.