On December 9th, we traveled up to Burlington, VT to celebrate my birthday. En route, we took a short detour to Plainfield, VT, to check out Maple Valley Cafe, which had been strongly recommended by one of Carol’s coworkers. Located on Route 2 just east of downtown Plainfield, Maple Valley is a slightly quirky place. It’s a café, take-out place and gift shop, all under one roof. But the back of the gift shop holds a surprisingly large dining area, and they’ve got a rather extensive menu of omelets, pancakes, fruit smoothies, and other breakfast treats.
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s not often I review a place twice. But sometimes a place can really do something that requires it. Place can change owners. They can change their menu significantly. Or sometimes, I’ve found out that my previously visits somehow missed out on something phenomenal (like eating breakfast for almost 15 years at Al’s Breakfast in Minneapolis before discovering that they have one of the best Eggs Benedict I’ve ever had). Well, Home Hill Inn in Plainfield, NH, has pulled off the latter two. A few years ago I finally got around to trying out Home Hill Inn, after discovering through friends that they have quite the Sunday brunch menu (you can read the original review here). Indeed, the brunch was phenomenal enough that I decided to try and return their for Easter brunch this year. Well, apparently the elaborate ad they had in the local paper was quite successful, since by Tuesday morning before Easter they were booked solid for brunch, but offered me up a reservation for dinner. So while lunch was denied, I finally got to try their lounge menu.
As anyone reading my article on Eggs Benedict from earlier this year could tell, it’s one of my favorite breakfast dishes from the savory side of things. The combination of a good toasted muffin, some sort of proper meat product, a nicely poached egg, and a well-executed tangy hollandaise makes for quite the nice breakfast. It’s also very, very hard to find such a beast in the Upper Valley. Lou’s can poach a mean egg (their “poached eggs and hash” breakfast is one of my local favorites) biut only has a Benedict as an occasional special. Four Aces had one, but it was a rather poor specimen (limp sauce, and cold ham), and in any case Four Aces is no longer with us. I’ve had an outstanding one at Wasp’s in Woodstock, but that’s outside my normal range, and not open on Saturdays. Benedicts also grace a few other menus of area places (as the occasional special, mostly), but I’m generally left underwhelmed. In an area not particularly well-populated with a lot of breakfast joints, I’m generally forced to lived without.