The Bistro at Ten Acres (Stowe, VT)

A few weekends ago we decided to spend a longer weekend in Vermont’s Mad River Valley, take in some of the sights, enjoy a few of the local breweries, and maybe get in some skiing. Well, despite leaving a house with almost two feet of accumulation back in NH, most of Vermont didn’t get the same heavy Nor’easter storms we did, so we mostly found ourselves staring at… dormant grass (and Mad River Glen only had two runs open!). Despite the unseasonable weather, however, the rest of the trip went pretty smoothly, we just spent a bit more time exploring, checking out breweries, and having a few nice dinners. One of our spots was a new one to me: The Bistro at Ten Acres in Stowe.

Located just about a quarter mile off of Mountain Road on Stowe’s western drag (just off of Luce Road, the “back way” to the Alchemist and the ski mountains for those in the know), Ten Acres Lodge opened up a bistro back in 2012, and it’s been getting good reviews, with a menu with a nice balance between lighter pub fare and a variety of full entrees. Getting promptly seated in a cozy dining room across from a fireplace, it’s a pleasant enough dining area (although the fireplace wasn’t drawing well that night, we ended up having a bit of residual smoke smell on our clothes for the rest of the evening), and we found ourselves ordering an appetizer of salad and oysters.

The salad was a basic variation on the classic green salad: kale, nicely prepped with same shaved parm, hazelnuts, and a nice cream dressing, this salad reminded me that a few places know how to properly dress a salad (too often these days I’m either given an undressed salad with a plastic cup on the side, or a pre-dressed salad that’s drenched with the dressing). In any case, a light, refreshing, and tasty salad.

The other appetizer was a tray of New England oysters. While there was nothing fancy about the basic preparation (this was a classic presentation on ice with lemon and cocktail sauce), here was another good example of a place that does remember how to do the basics well: each oyster was properly prepped and cleaned, ready to slide out of the shell without any grit or residue, the oysters themselves very fresh and flavorful, and a nice, sharp cocktail sauce. I was certainly happy with this for both quality and value.

For the main course, we both got the braised pork shank. Served up as a braised shank over a bed of cannellini beans and root vegetables, with some roasted apples on the side, this emerged from the kitchen as a substantial portion: no over-trimmed shank here, this was an impressively large serving (yeah, there are three large bones in there, but even still). But they did very well here: the pork was braised to perfect fall-off-the-bone tenderness, with a slightly crisp skin with a light maple glaze (avoiding the Vermont trope of over-applying maple to things) with every forkful being rich with tender bits of pork. The root vegetables and beans were also cooked just to the perfect point of tenderness without falling apart. Not a fancy dish either, but perfectly executed.

While we usually skip dessert, for some reason one of the desserts did appeal to us, the “S’more Pie”. On the face of this, this a basic chocolate cream in a graham cracker crust, topped with marshmallows, but again, everything here was in the execution: the crust was a housemade cracker crust of good quality, the filling a nice dark chocolate lightly sweetened ganache, and the top a handful of housemade toasted marshmallows. This made for a very enjoyable little dessert.

Overall, I was pleased with the Bistro. While none of our menu items were terribly elaborate, everything was prepared perfectly and to expectation; it’s obvious they’ve got a good kitchen staff who pay attention to the details. And to be fair, the menu also has some more inventive items on it (a fresh pineapple salad, a Korean pork dish, a poke bowl…), so there’s plenty else to try if I go back. I just hope the fire is a bit less smokey next time.

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