Chefs Cook With the Seasons at Mendon’s Red Clover Inn | 7 Nights Spotlight | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Chefs Cook With the Seasons at Mendon’s Red Clover Inn


Published May 1, 2015 at 4:00 a.m.

Portuguese Escargot - OLIVER PARINI
  • Oliver Parini
  • Portuguese Escargot

It's hard enough to operate an inn — without the added pressure of running a first-rate restaurant. But Vermont's 2015 Restaurateurs of the Year are at the Red Clover Inn, where chef David Coolidge is cooking up a storm. His menu — classic American fine dining grounded in French tradition — evolves daily, based on the availability of fresh, in-season local meats and produce.

Location Details The Red Clover Inn & Restaurant
7 Woodward Rd.
Mendon, VT
American (New)

So, that fork-tender osso buco filet, braised in red wine and served with creamy polenta finished with Parmesan and butter? It's from Jersey Girls Dairy in Chester, just half an hour away.

A plump, glowing-white cut of cod, shallow-poached in white wine with chopped chorizo, has traveled farther out of necessity, but the sausage was packed at nearby North Country Smokehouse. And the crushed fingerling potatoes — an ideal marriage of crispy and creamy — were grown locally.

Head server Thomas Meek makes an Espresso Martini. - OLIVER PARINI
  • Oliver Parini
  • Head server Thomas Meek makes an Espresso Martini.

If fish with sausage suggests an Iberian influence, it's because a former Red Clover chef hailed from a town in southern Massachusetts where more than a third of the population claims Portuguese heritage. Coolidge recalls his old pal with another dish, too: a bowl of escargots sautéed in an herby piri piri-pepper cream sauce. Sop up the extra juice with grilled crostini.

On Monday night, the $35 chef's tasting menu is an upscale but affordable alternative to cooking at home. Enjoy the chic cuisine with a bottle of wine — the globe-trotting list is more than 200 bottles strong. Featuring a blend of mature Old World vintages, southern-hemisphere surprises and haughty West Coast reds — all cellared in the inn's stone-lined basement — sommelier Thomas Meek's list shows nuance, knowledge and care. Satisfy your inner oenophile at one of his monthly first-Friday wine dinners, which might pair wild game with lesser-known "forgotten" grapes, or small-batch California wines with autumn harvest cuisine.

Such meals are served with a side of romance in the picturesque formal dining room. But those looking for a quick bite après-ski can snag a seat at the inn's friendly tavern for snacks and local brews or cocktails. It's the perfect way to wind down from adventures just up the road at Killington and Pico.

This article was originally published in 7 Nights: The Seven Days Guide to Vermont Restaurants & Bars in April 2015.

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