Hartland Diner (Hartland, VT)

(Update: We revisited the Hartland Diner in 2022. You can see the updated review here)

I’ve always enjoyed the little town of Hartland, VT. It’s a nice quiet little town, just off of I-91 and down the road from Windsor. It’s a bit funny, since it really has three village areas: Three Corners (where Route 5 and Route 12 intersect, and basically the main part of town), Four Corners (to the west, where Route 12 and Brownsville Road intersect), and North Hartland (a quiet little village nestled in between I-91 and the Connecticut River, and home of the North Hartland Dam, a rather nice little recreational area). As small Vermont towns go, Hartland is nice in that it’s actually got enough basic amenities: a gas station, two convenience stores, a library, several churches (including the host of the Famous Roast Beef Supper) and the like. And a diner, the Hartland Diner.

I originally started going to the Hartland Diner under their previous owner. Then called Stella’s, it was a pleasant little diner with a good breakfast menu, and a lot of items built around locally-produced items (I actually enjoy it when a place, instead of making a big production about using a few local suppliers, just, well, uses local suppliers). But the owners of Stella’s decided a year or two ago to purchase the Windsor Station Restaurant down the road in Windsor, VT, and put Stella’s up for sale. Well, it was bought by one of the deli managers at the Woodstock Farmers Market, and is now the “Hartland Diner”. And the decor has had the “country” motif ratcheted up a bit, but it’s still pretty tasteful. But most importantly, it’s still a pleasant little diner serving up honest breakfast and lunch fare, with a good menu of breakfast items, burgers, sandwiches, and the like.

Since our visit was at breakfast, I decided to try out my new “standard” breakfast dish: an Hash Benedict. I rather like a good hash Benedict, since it has everything I’m looking for in a savory breakfast: a nice base of corned beef hash with a bit of crisping on the grill, a well-poached egg, some nice Hollandaise sauce, and a nicely toasted muffin. Done right, it’s breakfast splendor. But it’s also an easy dish to mess up. But Hartland Diner’s got their Benedict going strong. While not the most photogenic I’ve had, it’s a decent hash they are starting with, and it’s been decently crisped, along with the muffin (I’m pretty sure they are grilling the muffin and not toasting it). The Hollandaise was well executed as well, with equal notes of creaminess, acid tang, and a pleasant overall yolk taste. I was certainly satisfied. Another little benefit? Hash browns. There’s something about New England that makes people and restaurants prefer home fries over hash browns, and every once in a while I appreciate it when I can go to one of the few places that serve up classic shredded hash browns. And the ones at Hartland Diner are nicely executed: soft shredded potatoes, seared to a nice brown crisp, without an excessive of salt or grease.

Carol instead opted for a hash omelet, and her omelet was nicely executed as well: a nice soft omelet layer, not overcooked, wrapped around a generous interior of potatoes and hash, and covered with the same good Hollandaise sauce. Basically an inverted version of my Benedict, it was also a pleasant dish.

Overall, I’m glad that, while Stella’s has departed, the replacement Hartland Diner is still a great diner and worthy of a stop.

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