Whoa, Windsor, Vermont: Will Wonders Never Cease!
Windsor Station. A Charming Evening Out.
She had a raven tattooed on her shoulder, peeking out from under her black satin shirt and across her left clavicle, its beak close to touching her bare neck. Her smile was real and wide. She wanted to know where I lived. I learned she had once been an artist, and her heart had been broken...
Not only is it worth stopping for a fine meal, Windsor Station is a fascinating and fun place to visit, too.
Out of a winter snowstorm I pulled into Windsor Station, a restaurant in the heart of Windsor, Vermont I've been meaning to try for quite some time. There's something about Windsor that always seems just out of the way to me, Yet, it's a mere fifteen miles from White River Junction point-to-point by car. Probably shorter by rail. That means 19 miles from Hanover, and about the same from Norwich. It's on Depot Avenue, a short spur of a street off VT Route 5, illuminating the snowy night like a, well..., like a train station might when a hungry traveler steps from her carriage craving a hot meal. The great Connecticut River serves as its backdrop, though I couldn't catch a glimpse of our watery neighbor due to the dark and snowy night.
Love at first glance: Saffron Citrus Mussels on the appetizer menu. I was hooked.
Tonight I drove in by car, yet Windsor Station delivered the goods to this hungry traveler not just in fine style and taste, but also in esthetic appeal and ambience. I wandered through a curtain into a bar room where a live musician played an acoustic guitar singing the likes of the Grateful Dead and Paul Simon. Think Casey Jones meets Graceland and you'll get the idea of what a glimmer of a gem this place was for me tonight. It was alive and vibrant with tables filled with diners even on a nasty winter weather night. A young couple were holding hands enveloped within a booth's bench seat staring into each others eyes. It's that kind of a magical place. The music, the smell of delicious food, the welcoming people who asked about the roads and how far I'd traveled—it was clear they cared, and they also cared to serve up some tasty fare, too.
My meal was a cajun-spiced burger with gorgonzola and pepper jack cheeses melted beneath a crisscross of smoked bacon on a toasted roll. It came with French fries that were just crispy enough on the outside and perfectly cooked to steaming on the inside. The beef was locally sourced from Hartland, Vermont, and it tasted like it had just been ground within the past thirty minutes. I also thought I could taste the sunshine within the grass the cow must have been fed. In short, this burger tasted like it was of beef with enough standalone flavor not to disappear beneath the cajun spice, gorgonzola, and the ketchup I added with abandon. The fries, too, held their own and were plenty tasty not to need ketchup but which I used liberally anyway. And, most importantly, I asked for it to be cooked medium-rare and that's exactly what I got. Bravo to the chef!
Live music that made the evening whole.
The burger and fries, along with a 16-ounce can of Burlington Brewing Company "Uncanny Valley" IPA was a perfect pairing for this pit stop along my route from points south to points still farther north. Battling my way through the snow had been stressful, but the wonderful waitstaff, excellent food, and that raven with its lively eye uncannily looking like it wanted me to try everything on the menu has me ready to return to Windsor Station for another go 'round, this time with their home-made ravioli. My best recollection is that it was announced as being hand-made with a parmesan cheese, pesto, grilled walnut and sun-dried tomato filling. I don't recall what kind of sauce it carried, but I doubt it would need it given the ingredients. My waitress said the ravioli, made specially each day, is well worth the return trip any night of the week. I'm betting she's right.
Beyond the food, the music, and the people, there's an architectural air about this place that also shines. It's the old Windsor train station, with high ceilings of tongue-and-groove hardwood burnished to a rich amber color, almost like that of a hearty-grade maple syrup. With suitcases piled high and curved windows that look like they're made of an opaque marble quarried from someplace nearby a long time ago, I enjoyed letting my eyes just take in the entire dining room space. There's plenty to see here, even if you don't walk around outside. Trains come by twice each day, making you feel like you might have stepped back in time to an earlier era when everything slowed down just a bit, people were always friendly, and you were the center of attention for as long as you wanted to be.
An old RR crossing signpost stands like a silent sentinel above the lively music and delicious fare served up with smiles and pleasant conversation at Windsor Station.
As I said my goodbyes to the raven-illustrated server, a bus-boy passed by my table carrying a bucket overflowing with dishes. He reminded me of a porter from yesteryear, while I imagined I'd been riding the Polar Express seated in its fine dining car shushing along on rails across the snow-clad countryside of beautiful Vermont.
I recommend you visit Windsor Station. It's a magical and uniquely charming place to dine that may well pull you back for more fine fare and fanciful fun again and again.
Don't ever miss another post. Click here to sign up for an email alert each time Dave Celone publishes a new piece on the dailyuv.com. And do Click here to see his previous post about homelessness titled: Fake News and the Analog Thermometer that discusses the importance of looking outside, and being outside in nature from time to time.
Dave Celone is not this exceptional hand-made scarf, nor is he the scarf pin (that doubles as a hair barrette!) with stone, hand made by a local artisan. Both of the above items may be found at Long River Gallery & Gifts in Lyme, NH and also in White River Junction, VT, along with many dozens of other pieces of locally-made art and craft, jewelry, fine furniture, toys, purses, hats, handbags, skincare, VT-made chocolates, and books by local authors.
Instead, Dave's a writer who likes to share information about his life in the Upper Valley on a host of topics ranging from food and beverage to art and craft. Dave is a freelance writer, poet, visual artist, art gallery curator, and consultant for the education industry. He co-manages Long River Gallery & Gifts in Lyme, NH and its new pop-up gallery in White River Junction VT with his wife Lisa where over 175 local artists and artisans show their work. The "pop-up" gallery is at 49 South Main Street in White River Junction between The Junction Frame Shop and The Hotel Coolidge. Dave is also principal of Advancement Consulting Services offering higher education institutions and private secondary schools global best practices and unique ways to increase alumni giving and involvement through programs that develop relationships and value holistically. His "virtuous circle" model on developing fundraising programs, and his strategic program development centered around "treating students like alumnae/i and alumnae/i like students" have gained favor among development industry professionals and higher education leadership on multiple continents. Dave is former director of development at The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, and former co-executive director of the Dartmouth College Fund. He may be reached at email@example.com. Please feel free to add your comments below. Dave will respond.