And that's not the only reason I drive 40 minutes out of my way to Middlebury. The real draw is exquisite pub food, which I can enjoy without actually being in a pub. If you want to get wild, go downstairs to the Two Brothers Lounge and Stage. I prefer to entrench myself with a bread basket (with pesto oil for dipping) in the white tablecloth dining room.
I like to order from the tapas or small plates menus, so I can test a variety of offerings. All tapas are $1.50 or three for $4. I recommend the Roasted Garlic Meatball, a moist wad of aromatic Wood Creek beef drenched in tangy tomato sauce.
The "Small Plates" wouldn't get such a title at most restaurants. The Mac n' Cheese ($7.95, pictured) I tried on my last visit was enough for two. The extremely satisfying blend of cheeses with a sharp hit of cheddar was the perfect dish for a cold autumn night. The filling tureen of Shepard's Pie was unique, with subtle notes of sage mixed with the creamy mashed potatoes.
Save room for the Homemade Ice Cream Creation of the day. Last time, I enjoyed an ice cream cake with a base of the restaurant's signature Chocolate Porter cake — made from Otter Creek's Stovepipe Porter — for a densely chocolaty, slightly bitter pastry, completed by a thick layer of sour cream ice cream topped with raspberries. That's creativity I can certainly appreciate.