The Wayside Restaurant is a place to eat classic Vermont food, including salt pork and milk gravy, fresh native perch, old-fashioned boiled dinner, and red flannel hash (so named because beets dye it the color of a farmer’s long johns). Not all these kitchen specialties are made every day. Perch can be had only during ice-fishing season, when it is lightly breaded and fried to a crisp; salt pork and gravy has become a Thursday-only tradition; Wednesday is chicken pie and meat loaf day; boiled dinner and shepherd’s pie are cold-weather specials; fiddlehead ferns are offered only a few weeks in the spring.
Whatever the daily specials, and regardless of seasonal shortages, you will eat well any time you come to this cheerful town lunch room. Meals begin with aromatic, just-baked rolls brought to the table. What joy it is to tear off a shred from a roll and submerge it into a bowl of Wayside beef barley soup – a brew so thick with meat and pearly grain that a spoon literally stands up in it; or dip it in the vegetable soup – a jumble of hand-cut carrots, squash, onions, tomato, and beans.
In addition to several puddings, Jell-O, and homemade ginger snaps for dessert, there is a big and appetizing choice of pies: mince pie, cream pie, apricot pie, lemon meringue pie, hand-cut apple pie, berry pies in season, and maple cream pie. That last one makes us swoon. It is low and flat with barely-whipped cream piled onto a radiant band of amber maple cream. The maple flavor is powerful, elegant, and pure, and it will resonate on your tongue like a grand north-country cordial.