Picnics necessarily revolve around packable, easy-to-eat foods that can be shared, perhaps with a glass of wine or lemonade. Such meals often take place on a blanket in the grass on a sunny, idle afternoon.
When it opens early this summer, Stowe's Picnic Social restaurant will aim to provide that experience in elevated form. The restaurant is located on the ground floor of the 30-room Field Guide hotel on Mountain Road, which replaced the shuttered Ye Olde England Inne late last year. Field Guide is the first Vermont property for Massachusetts-based boutique hotel brand Lark Hotels, which owns almost 20 coastal properties throughout New England.
Chef Justin Perdue will head the kitchen, according to Lark "chief inspiration officer" Dawn Hagin. Perdue's background includes stints at noted big-city restaurants, including Bobby Flay's Bar Americain in New York City and Rick Bayless' Michelin-starred Topolobampo in Chicago's hip River North district. Most recently, the chef worked at luxe Sofitel hotel-restaurants in Chicago and Philly.
At Picnic Social, Perdue's menu will feature shareable locavore "boards" spread with meats and cheeses, fresh salads, or toasts topped with heirloom tomatoes or braised pork. Sandwiches (upmarket grilled cheeses, burgers) and snacks (roasted carrots, creamed corn, macaroni and potato salads) will round out the menu, along with a couple of desserts.
The bar will pour several Vermont beers and offer a lengthy cocktail list grounded in summery items such as bourbon sweet tea and lemonade-style sippers. Guests can enjoy all of this in any of several venues within the hotel, including a proper dining room, a cushy lounge, a deck and an outdoor area with a fire pit large enough to accommodate 30 people on picnic blankets.
Now all we need is some warmer weather.
The original print version of this article was headlined "Picnic Rules"