Mr. Pickwick's at Ye Olde England Inne
- 433 Mountain Road, Stowe, VT, 05672
(Published in 7 Nights 2008-09)
Stepping into Mr. Pickwick's at Ye Olde England Inne in Stowe is like entering an alternate universe, in which plaid carpets become a sensible decorating choice and dishes influenced by the Raj cozy up with classic English cuisine. The place has a masculine feel, reminiscent of an upscale hunting lodge, and servers approach with formal civility, more "English country house" than "Vermont casual."
Adding to the blue-blood British ambiance is what may be the most extensive drink list in the state. Mr. Pickwick pours more than 150 fine ales — including quaffs bottled in Belgian monasteries and at ancient British brew houses — and more than 100 single-malt whiskies, ranging in price from $7.50 to $95 per glass. Want a 45-year-old port to cap your meal? No problem. Folks who have trouble deciding among the copious offerings can default to the menu's pairing suggestions — every dish is listed with a wine and beer selection.
Pickwick's "house specialty" appetizer is wild boar ribs braised in red wine with anise barbecue sauce and sesame cucumbers. The dish goes smashingly with a QuÃ©becois Maudite. The coarse, country-style pâté — served with a tiny, undressed side salad, a few olives and some cornichons — pairs well with the unfiltered Belgian Witkap Pater. The golden ale's slight sourness helps it stand up to the condiments.
It's tough to choose from the 18 entrées on the menu, which range from exotic game dishes such as mango-glazed ostrich roulade to British comfort foods such as classic beef Wellington and bangers 'n' mash. There are oceanic offerings, too. Seafood Normandy comes with plump mussels, clams, scallops and monkfish in a sweet and buttery cider sauce. Foret Saison, also from Belgium, accompanies the fruits de mer.
Pickwick's super-sweet "crowning glory" brownie made it into the pages of Gourmet, but authenticity-seeking diners should try the "spotted dick" — a steamed pudding dotted with currants and raisins in a luscious toffee sauce. Or go for a liquid "dessert": a glass of honeyed, 18-year Balvenie Scotch. Please sir, I want some more.