Getaway #3

Happy New Year! My 2014 started off just right. Lots of lovely family times, friends over for impromptu dinners, playing outdoors, and tons of kiddie dance parties, fort building, and dress up. I have gone sledding more in the last two weeks than I have in my entire adult life and I loooove it!

Though most people have been back at work for a week now, I am officially back today. Which is not to say I didn’t work a little throughout the holidays, cause I totally did. But our restaurant closed on January 1st for a two week break so we had last week off and we took a mommy and daddy mini vacation. After all the family time over the break, as lovely as it all was, the hubby and I desperately wanted a little time off, for just the two of us. And though leaving the kids behind is still pretty hard for us, sometimes I think you really need some space, to make you a better parent and a better spouse.

I have written before about mine and my hubby’s deep love for Vermont. We love the food, we love the scenery, the people are lovely and above all the hubby loves the craft beer. So given all the love, we decided pretty last minute to run away to Vermont for 24 hours. We dropped the kids off at daycare and started driving. After a little bit of in-the-car research (Gosh, technology can just be the best!), we headed to Winooski for lunch. Misery Loves Company is a great little restaurant/bar serving lunch and dinner. After some hesitation because everything looked so good and we were starving, we settled into our window seats and enjoyed local beer and cider and some delicious eats.

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Unassuming design but with all the right details. Love the floor and the chairs were especially beautiful.


The food was really nice and bright. The winner was the cauliflower dish on the end: fried & covered with lime, fish sauce, a carrot relish and some spice. I could have this every day.

After lunch and the necessary stop at a beer store for E, we drove the 15 minutes to our hotel, The Essex Resort and Spa. There is a great deal there from Sundays to Thursdays with the rooms under a 100$ and free use of the spa facilities: gym, pool, outdoor hot tub, steam room and sauna. Also they give you the most comfortable and fluffy robe to walk around the spa in. The hotel itself is nice and comfortable. Not the best or most modern design but totally decent and everything is of nice quality. One of us went to work out (not me) and one of us napped for a while (YES!) before meeting up again for an outdoor hot tub soak. Lovely.

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The grounds of the Essex are very pretty and looked magical at night.

And then it was off to Burlington for dinner. This was our first dinner date in a while and it was a doozy. We had wanted to go to Hen of the Wood in Waterbury for a long time, having heard only wonderful things. But the kids were always with us on these little trips and it felt like it would be wasted on them or stressful if they were there. They are, in general, fine in restaurants, or as fine as a two and four year old can be. But this is the kind of place you want to sit in for awhile, a meal that you want to linger over, that you want to pair with a glass or more of wine or beer. Kids don’t do linger very well. In October, the owners opened a Hen of The Wood in Burlington, closer to where we were staying overnight.  What a lovely evening. What a great meal. And the service was just stellar.

While the Waterbury version is in a 200 year old mill, the Burlington one is in the Hotel Vermont, a modern, new construction. The design is great. Dark, cozy and very welcoming. There is a nice big bar, a fire place, tables in the middle and along the sides, and a counter overlooking the kitchen which is where we were lucky enough to sit. The space was designed by  Scott Kester, a New York designer of many well-known restaurants. It is rustic but modern, without that film set/ farmhouse /exposed barn wood look that everyone is doing. They do have the barn wood but also deeper richer woods and plywood too. And they do have a wall of logs but they are used by the cooks at the wood burning oven. Design touches that serve a purpose: that is my kind of design. Decorating for decorating sake is the worst. When you do that, especially in a commercial space, is when you end up with a space that looks like it was decorated and overdone, a film set. Touches of leather and dark walls make the place feel like a private club not a cliché mountain lodge. It is hard to do a space that is both modern and rustic and that doesn’t feel cold or too decorated. The space has low ceilings and to de-emphasize that and to have it work to their advantage, they built a plywood triangular grid, that draws your eye up and that makes the space feel bigger. This place hit all the right notes and they clearly had the budget to do so.


Coming in from the cold we sat by the fireplace and had a drink. They brought us some gorgeous ham to nibble on, really one of the best things we had all night. I am a sucker for a fireplace and I was immediately won over. They then seated us at the counter more or less directly in front of their wood burning oven. So much fire! Not only did we have a firsthand view of the prep and cooking and expediting going on, but we could almost forget that it was January outside. After shedding some layers of clothing, we settled into our perch and our delicious meal. The Hen of the Wood people are really at the vanguard of the farm to table food philosophy, one that we especially appreciate given that is what we try to do at Lawrence. And full disclosure, they knew where we were from and had been to our restaurant which could explain the extra generosity perhaps.


The menu, carrots roasted and pickled with ricotta; Treviso Radicchio with blue cheese, pecans, apples and buttermilk; a plate of mignardises that blew me away and some delicious Vermont cheeses with a gorgeous cheese case at the end of the bar, beckoning us throughout dinner.

The best dish of the night went un-photographed, mainly because I was too busy stuffing it down my throat and also because I got swept up in the deliciousness of it all: lamb sausage and house pappardelle with aged goat cheese. Divine. Maybe it was coming in from a cold January night into a warm, softly-lit place. Maybe it was the fact that we had nowhere to rush off to, no babysitters to relieve (thanks mom and dad!). Maybe it was the company- it had been too long since we could sit and chat unhurried and uninterrupted by little people, and we really do enjoy each other’s company. Maybe it was all that mixed in with some great food and drink. But all of the ingredients made for one hell of a date night. And I can’t wait to go back.

We spent the next morning enjoying the pool (I needed to work off some of that lunch and dinner!)and all the rest of that fun spa stuff (those fluffy bath robes were the best!)and then hit the road, for the short drive back to Montreal and to our babies. Dates and getaways are so fun and so necessary but there is nothing like being on our own to make us really miss our little monkeys. We picked them up from daycare early and squeezed them tight. And it only took about five minutes in the car with them to miss Vermont! So we vowed to go back real soon. This time for two nights!

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