If you ever want to REALLY relax head to Okemo Mountain in Ludlow, VT sometime during the summer. Cross the Vermont border and feel your stress just melt away. Ludlow is sleepy in the summer but don’t get me wrong, there is plenty to do. Jackson Gore resort has an adventure park, Segway tours (which I’ve heard are great) zip-lines and of course mini-golf. There also is an 18-hole golf course and a driving range. You can hike, bike and race on the mountain or swim in the pools or at Buttermilk Falls. What I do best is lay at the pool, or on a couch, and read.
But the best part of Ludlow in the summer is that it is relatively easy to get a reservation at The Downtown Grocery. No, this is not a market. This is a farm-to-table restaurant that is as good, if not better, that most of the restaurants I frequent in New York.
The Downtown Grocery is owned by its chef, Rogan Lechtaler, originally from nearby Weston VT and his wife Abby who is originally from Mississippi. Rogan trained in restaurants from Boston to Mississippi so his cooking is quite eclectic. Combined with Abby’s southern hospitality, which is welcoming and warm (especially nice in the subzero temps during the winter), The Downtown Grocery is a casual, but high-quality restaurant.
The restaurant prides itself on using local seasonal ingredients. The night we ate there tomatoes were the item du jour and boy were they good! I started with a tomato & ricotta tower which would have been more than enough for a full meal. Rarely have I tasted tomatoes so full of flavor. For our entrees, the soft-shelled crab and blackened blue fish were outstanding. For dessert we tried a sampler of homemade ice cream that included blueberry goat cheese, Bliss Garden’s honey and buttermilk bacon.
Everything is fresh. The chef makes his own pastas, cures his own meats and the menu changes daily depending on what is available at the local markets. Although Ludlow is in central Vermont, and not remotely near the water, Abby told us that they get their fish fresh daily from Boston — so even the fish is the daily catch.
As my partner-in-crime has explained in her previous blogs, I am not a foodie. So when I say I wish I could have sampled everything – including the meat dishes because they sounded so good — you know that this place is better than great!
The Downtown Grocery, 41 Depot Street, Ludlow, VT
Dinner at 5:30, closed Tuesdays & Wednesdays
Terrible Mountain Throw Down Deal – 2 courses for $29 on Mondays &Thursdays (excluding holiday weeks)
Entrees – $14-$36
Reservations are recommended 802-228-7566