Among the many benefits offered by living in or visiting Vermont are the spectacular views from just about everywhere. We often drive throughout the state and it seems that wherever we go, the landscape reminds us of why we are here. The mountains, the valleys and the lakes are breathtaking, if you take the time to enjoy it all. So when we find a restaurant that offers sensational views while dining, we must tell you about it.
Named one of the most beautiful restaurants in Vermont is Bennington’s Publyk House. On Harwood Hill Road (Historic Route 7A), Publyk House was the Bennington Banner’s 2021 Readers Choice for best overall restaurant in Bennington County. Publyk House excels at offering a relaxed and comfortable setting with easy-to-like country fare. Service is excellent and reflects the agreeable and congenial tone of this dining establishment. On our most recent visit, we were served by Jenna who was pleasant, attentive and accommodating. Consistent with our past dinners at Publyk House, we have always found the staff to be friendly and efficient.
Perhaps the tone is set by the experienced, knowledgeable and steady hand of owners Steve and Lauren Bryant who also own and manage The Dorset Inn, Barrows House in Dorset, CurATE at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, as well as other successful venues. Steve and Lauren instill a high level of quality and professionalism in all their venues and this is, indeed, reflected by Publyk House’s head chef Frank Scott. Frank has that big welcoming smile and winning personality that gives you confidence that you are going to like whatever he cooks. So the team at Publyk House from ownership to chef to the servers is top-notch.
Back to the extraordinary views. Sitting on the expansive deck, with tables spaced widely apart, you look out on Mount Anthony and the Bennington Battle Monument. It gets even more special if you catch the sunset right from your table sipping a mellow wine. In the colder months, two large indoor fireplaces add a warmth and coziness that makes you feel that you are in the right place to dine and can linger without feeling rushed.
There are two menus available, and you can order from either menu regardless of where you sit. The tavern offers a friendly bar with tables and a menu that is less formal but no less tasty. Appetizers at Publyk House include warm baked brie, mussels steamed in white wine, bacon and chives, crab cakes and chilled shrimp with cocktail sauce. Prices range from $10.95 to $14.95. Soups and some dinner-sized salads are priced between $7.95 and $15.95. Several pasta dishes are offered including a lobster mac with mozzarella, brie and cheddar cheese priced at $23.95.
Entrees, including a generous salad bar, a loaf of honey wheat bread and sweet whipped maple butter, offer just about anything one could want. From satisfying roast turkey with stuffing, perfect at this time of year as we look forward to Thanksgiving, to a 12-ounce New York strip steak with crispy onions, to a delicious meatloaf and, of course, a rack or half rack of lip-smacking BBQ ribs. Baked New England Cod is a favorite, as is the classic fish and chips, and herb roasted chicken. Prices range from $14.95 to $34.95 for entrees.
Publyk House offers more than 20 wines, reasonably priced from $8 to $12 by the glass or $35 to $60 for a bottle. Especially pleasant and easy-going is a 2018 California Chardonnay from family-owned Flat Top Hills Winery. Publyk House carries many Vermont and regional craft beers including Long Trail, Otter Creek and Switchback.
Since 1972, Publyk House has been an important part of the community. What began as a historic three-story barn now serves nearly 70,000 dinners a year. Takeout is available and well behaved pets are welcome outdoors. Steve informs me that he is hoping to bring back trivia and karaoke nights as was enjoyed pre-Covid. A stunning party room is available. Our only wish is that Publyk House was open for lunch, especially on weekends. Publyk House is open 5 to 9 p.m. every day except Sunday, when hours are 4 to 8 p.m. For reservations, call 802.442.7500.
And here’s some inside information to whet the appetite of the savvy followers of this column:
There’s a new and exciting restaurant coming late fall to Manchester that will offer a menu of mouth-watering southern comfort food. Pearl’s Place and Pantry promises to be a special addition to our already highly regarded culinary community. This effort will be led by Steve and Lauren Bryant and the Publyk House team, including chef Frank Stone.
In addition to several smart-looking dining rooms, there will be an outside terrace with a fire pit and an open bar area with a two-sided stone fireplace.
Expect a fun and engaging menu including specialties such as house smoked BBQ, classic southern fried chicken, pulled pork, fried oysters, creole gumbo, fried green tomato BLT, pork ribs, prime brisket and an angus burger with bacon jam. With a generous choice of craft beers on draft, an extensive selection of fine bourbons and peanut butter pie as a dessert option, Pearl’s sounds destined for popularity. You heard it here first.
Pearl’s, at 1492 Depot St. in Manchester Center, is expected to be open daily for dinner starting at 5 p.m. For reservations, call 802-367-3102.