The Farmers Diner in Quechee (Windsor County, Vt)-
Even in a state promoting a cheese trail of 41 artisinal cheesemakers (www.vtcheese.com/cheesetrail.htm), it still comes as a bit of a surprise and delight to find The Farmers Diner. Tucked into a corner of touristy Quechee Gorge Village, is a wonderfully preserved 1947 railroad dining car, moved from Worcester, Massachusetts to Quechee 25 years ago. (The Farmers Diner operates a second location in the Marble Works District of Middlebury [Addison County], Vermont). Fortunate to get a corner booth in this American treasure, I was even more fortunate to find a restaurant that serves its morning coffee (organic and free-traded from Vermont roaster, Harrington Bros. and ground at the diner) in a mug inscribed with a Wendell Berry quote, “Eating Is An Agricultural Act” from his Collected Poems 1957-1982 (North Point Press, 1986). The pleasure of starting a summer day in Vermont with The Farmers Diner’s extraordinary “Farmers’ Breakfast” is an experience for anyone who appreciates the words posted behind the diner’s front counter: “Think Locally, Eat Neighborly.” Near the entry to the diner are posted the equally potent words: “Welcome to The Farmers Diner, Food From Here.”
For a very reasonable $11.00, given the quality and generously sized portions, the Farmer’s Breakfast consists of two eggs “cooked to your liking”, two fluffy buttermilk pancakes with local Vermont blueberries, local Vermont Smoke and Cure bacon (www.vtsmokeandcure.com), and home fries. The pancakes were served with Vermont maple syrup and Cabot’s butter. It was irresistible to try the spicy peach jam and raspberry jam, both made from Vermont fruit, in jars on the booth’s table. They complemented the buttermilk pancakes as well as the traditional maple syrup, and the spicy peach jam was a surprisingly tangy, flavorful treat, which left a lingering pleasure on the palate almost like a fine red wine. I should have asked where I could purchase a jar! My scrambled eggs were creamy and perfectly cooked. For 95 cents extra, I opted for eggs “from hens running around the barnyard and out in the field” though all eggs served are Vermont fresh shell eggs. (In an age where most breakfast restaurants use pasteurized liquid eggs in a wax-covered aseptic box, a hallelujah is in order to The Farmers Diner.) The Vermonter breakfast at $9.00 consisted of two eggs “cooked to your liking” with Vermont Smoke and Cure bacon or maple sausage, and La Panciata (a local baker) wheat or white toast and home fries. But my advice simply stated: don’t miss the enjoyment of the two finest buttermilk pancakes this side of the Mississippi River with a dash of spicy Vermont peach jam.
Special mention must be made of The Farmers Diner menu, which is a remarkable document reflective of a growing movement in America. All items in red on the menu are from area farmers and producers. With the diner’s goal “to purchase 80% or our ingredients from area farms and producers”, the red vastly predominates over the black ink of the menu. The very first page of the menu consists of a detailed description of a local producer, which the friendly waitress explained rotates with other descriptions. She handed me 6 menus, each with a different local food producer on the first page. My menu told the story of Allison Hooper and her Vermont Butter and Cheese Co. (www.vermontcreamery.com), which is one of the 41 artisinal cheesemakers on the Vermont cheese trail.
The options on the menu for lunch were appealing and would justify a lunchtime stop at The Farmers Diner on a future date: Sappy Squealer, slow roasted Vermont raised pulled pork in Maple BBQ sauce; cheeseburgers made with Vermont PT Farms beef and Cabot jack or cheddar cheese and a slice of Long Wind Farm’s tomato, Bean Burger made with Vermont Butterworks Farm’s organic beans, tender roasted Vermont Misty Knoll farm chicken, grilled cheese sandwiches made with various types of Vermont cheeses. But with breakfast served all day, it would be tough to pass up another Farmer’s Breakfast at any time of day, with perhaps an order of Nitty Gritty corn meal hush puppies which the waitress mentioned was her favorite dish on the menu (FB 7/28/10). [The Farmers Diner, 5573 Woodstock Rd. (Rt 4), Quechee, VT, 802.295.4600, Breakfast, Lunch: (Nov-May) Mon-Sun 7:00AM-4:00PM; Breakfast, Lunch: (June-Oct) Sun-Weds 7:00AM-4:00PM, Thurs-Sat 7:00AM-8:00PM www.farmersdiner.com]
[Editor’s Note-Sadly, The Farmers Diner ceased operation in March 2011.]