River House, the new restaurant at the Stowe Inn, opened on June 10. On July 4, chef Doug Groendyke, the force behind the locavore bent of the new eatery, who made his name cooking at Michelin-starred Miami restaurants, left for good. “It’s such a shame,” he says. “I trained a great staff there. I feel sorry for them that they have to deal with this without me.”
Groendyke attributes his departure to a tense relationship with new general manager, Marianne Linder. For her part, Linder says that she is unable to discuss an employee, past or present. She does say that she’s working hard to make the restaurant a success. Groendyke’s sous-chef, Jayme Thurber, previously of Stowe Mountain Lodge, is now executive chef. Thurber says her team is working to join the Vermont Fresh Network and to keep up ties with local farms.
Beef from Boyden Farm and PT Farm figures prominently on the new menu, which Thurber says focuses on steak and seafood, with two daily farm-fresh specials. When Seven Days spoke with Thurber, she was brining local duck for that night’s dinner. Each Thursday, prime rib is featured. Friday, it’s a clambake.
Linder says she’s excited about the restaurant’s potential under Thurber. “We have a creative new talent in the kitchen,” she says. “I think it’s going to be wonderful.”
Groendyke, who says he’s taking the summer off before finding a new workplace closer to his Chittenden County home, hopes Linder is right in her expectations for River House. “I love that property and think it has so much potential,” he says.