Polly’s is like fancy-grade maple syrup: sweet and rare, rustic and deliciously old-fashioned. It began in 1938 when “Sugar Bill” Dexter and his wife Polly converted the carriage shed of their farm into a tea room in order to showcase all the good things that could be made from the sap gathered from Dexter’s sugarbush. They served pancakes, waffles, and French toast as well as white bread laced with maple syrup. When New England was slammed by the (unnamed) Great Hurricane of 1938, they gathered up the apple windfall and boiled it with syrup to make what they called Maple Hurricane Sauce. It’s still on the menu, and still a magnificent topping for pancakes and waffles or ice cream.
Today, Sugar Bill’s progeny continue serving good, simple food with an array of maple products to pour, spread, and sprinkle on it. Pancakes, of course, are the specialty of the house; they are made from stone ground flours or cornmeal, either plain or upgraded with shreds of coconut, walnuts, or blueberries. One order consists of a half a dozen three-inchers; and it is possible to get a sampler of several different kinds. There is a remarkable range from, say, blueberry-cornmeal to buckwheat-walnut to plain; but they all share the wondrous delicacy that only expertly-made pancakes offer. They come with the clearest and most elegant maple syrup, as well as maple sugar and maple spread. You can also get maple muffins, sandwiches made with maple white bread, an ambrosial gelatinized dessert called maple Bavarian cream, as well as all sorts of maple candies to take home.
What a visual feast it is to come Polly’s! It opens after mud season in the spring, when many of the surrounding maple trees are hung with taps and buckets; the spectacular time to visit is autumn, during the sugarbush’s chromatic climax. (Polly’s closes for winter after October.) The dining room has a glass-walled porch that overlooks fields where horses graze; and its inside walls are decorated with antiques and tools that have been in the family since the late 18th century when Sugar Bill’s ancestors began farming this land.