Side Dishes: New Stowe eatery puts a local spin on haute cuisine
Vermont's hottest property, the ecologically friendly Stowe Mountain Lodge , opens this Saturday. But its two restaurants, the moderately casual Hourglass Bar & Lounge and Solstice  — touted as a fine-dining destination with an extensive localvore menu — quietly started serving sumptuous fare late last week.
Executive Chef Sean Buchanan, formerly of Wood Creek Farm  and the Middlebury Inn , sources as many products as possible from Vermont's artisan producers. He crafts them into dishes such as "Wood Creek Farm steak and maple-braised short rib with truffled Butterworks Farm  polenta," and "apple-brined pork loin with smoked apple butter and local braised greens accented with bacon."
Two prix-fixe options appeal to the deep-pocketed: four courses for $75 and seven courses for $125. Of the tasting menus, resort Sales Manager Josh Novotny boasts, "Sean will take people on a journey of culinary delights, with a menu that is seasonal to the nth degree."
Novotny describes Solstice as having "floor-to-ceiling windows with a view of Spruce Peak, and an open kitchen." Vermonters made the tables, pottery and every bit of art in the dining room. The resort even commissioned its own beer from Rock Art Brewery  in Morrisville, and a unique coffee blend created by Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea Co.  in Waterbury.
The personnel is a point of pride, too: "Sean is a very engaging person, and he was really able to pull a staff of true culinarians," Novotny says. "And we're a teaching kitchen, so we work with the local culinary schools and programs to recruit the best possible staff."
Overall, he says, "The idea is truly to celebrate all things Vermont and to create an experience that's unique to Vermont."