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September 3, 2013

Alice Eats: Hyde Away Inn and Restaurant

IMG_61851428 Millbrook Road/Route 17, Fayston, 496-2322

The Mad River Valley has more than its fair share of dining destinations. Venues such as the Mad Taco, the Common Man, the Sweet Spot, Bridge Street Butchery and even Maynard's Snack Bar have all earned places in my rotation — driving the better part of an hour be damned.

With a fusty reputation, the Hyde Away Inn and Restaurant was never on that list. Until now.

Earlier this summer, Bruce Hyde Jr., a graduate of Cornell University's hotel school, came on board and remade the comfort food served at the restaurant and tavern to showcase local ingredients. Really local — most of the food comes from within a mile or two.

The crowd was mostly of the blue-haired variety when we arrived in the dark dining room on Saturday evening. I overheard several recalling the room's previous tenant, Zach's Tavern, part of the Snuggery Inn, which closed in 1987. Its logo graces the background of the current menu.

The antique-filled room recalls an even earlier time. With its petite table lamps and padded leather chairs, it reminded me of visiting my great-grandmother's house.

IMG_6188But the menu is thoroughly modern. The price constraints of an Alice Eats review prevented me from trying the housemade papardelle with farmstead cheese or local ribs.

I was thoroughly impressed with everything I tried, particularly the crispy risotto cakes.

The crisp, Parmesan-flavored cakes were clearly made from excellent, creamy  risotto. But the greatest hit of the dish was the ideally balanced, smoked tomato sauce. Uncommonly tender, tasty mushrooms soaked up a bit of wine while cooking. They demonstrated why fresh is best — they came from Waitsfield's Hartshorn Certified Organic Farm.

IMG_6192The filling for the pulled-pork sandwich also didn't travel far. The meat came from Gaylord Farm and had an intense, porky flavor and meaty texture that withstood its pleasant layer of smoke.

Sadly, the delicious meat was muffled by a too-thick slick of barbecue sauce made with Vasseur Brothers Dairy and Maple Sugar Farm syrup.

The fluffy, egg-washed bun was soaked in the sauce, too. Next time, I'll see if I can get it on the side. I'd rather just taste that seductive meat along with the creamy, tangy slaw. Luckily, I had some sour house pickles to cleanse my palate for the crisp, well-salted fries.

IMG_6189The same sides were plated with the delectable umami bomb that was the duck Reuben.

Meaty morsels of confited Canadian duck and musky slices of prosciutto stood in for plain old corned beef with aplomb. The fatty meats melted with Swiss cheese and Dijon into the buttery, pan-fried rye bread. But just when the adipose glories felt like too much of a good thing, housemade sauerkraut came to the rescue with a crunchy burst of acid.

I suspect that this hidden gem of a locavore restaurant won't stay one for long. But as long as I can fight through the crowds, I'll be happy to line up for another sandwich.

Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to [email protected].

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