RiverHouse at the Stowe Inn (123 Mountain Road, Stowe) opens on Friday, June 10. For executive chef Doug Groendyke, it’s the reward for the 120-hour weeks he says he’s been working since he joined the inn less than three weeks ago.
In that time, Groendyke interviewed more than 100 cooks for his team, choosing five to be part of his “collective of culinary minds,” as he puts it, “serving traditional American fare using classical French techniques.” He’s particularly proud of New England Culinary Institute grad Jayme Thurber, formerly of Solstice at Stowe Mountain Lodge, who is both his sous-chef and pastry chef, making all breads, buns and desserts from scratch.
The inn’s previous restaurant, Stowe Inn and Tavern, closed two months ago to make room for the new concept. Before that, chocolate martinis trumped food as a reason to hit the eatery and its antique mahogany bar.
Groendyke, who’s fresh from a “tour of Burlington waterfront hotels” following years cooking at Michelin-starred Miami restaurants, says his goal is to prepare “simple and honest good food, executed perfectly with not a lot of frills.”
The opening menu includes $3 “tasters” such as house-cut fries with basil-garlic aioli and fresh herb popcorn. Among the small plates: grilled flatbread with crispy fingerling potatoes, Grafton Village cheddar, fried sage, and Vermont Smoke and Cure bacon. The large-plate menu features housemade spaghettini with heirloom tomatoes and herb-roasted chicken from Misty Knoll Farms with apple butter and cheddar polenta.
Like the fish of the day, the vegetables remain unspecified on the print menu. They’ll change daily to showcase the best fresh produce. Groendyke says he’s kept the entrée menu small to allow for a number of daily specials.
Guests at the restaurant’s Friday night grand opening will be treated to $2 select wines and drafts and free soft drinks and tasters. They can mingle to live music, which will become a regular Saturday night occurrence.