Carpenter & Main Dishes Out Burgers and Bistro Delights in Norwich | 7 Nights Spotlight | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Carpenter & Main Dishes Out Burgers and Bistro Delights in Norwich 

Published May 1, 2011 at 4:00 a.m.

click to enlarge Carpenter & Main - JUSTIN CASH
  • Justin Cash
  • Carpenter & Main

Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., may be on the "wrong" side of the Connecticut River, but the prestigious school — with its nearly 6000 students and nearby teaching hospital — has a serious impact on Vermont's Upper Valley restaurant scene.

Doctors, faculty and visiting parents seeking fine fare find it in Woodstock, Quechee, Hartford — and nearby Norwich. The small riverside town, with a population significantly smaller than that of the college, boasts a pair of well-known bakeries, a microbrewery and alehouse, and some fine restaurants.

Location Details Carpenter & Main
326 Main St.
Upper Valley
Norwich, VT
American (New)

One of the best in town, Carpenter & Main, has another Dartmouth connection: Its chef-owner, Bruce MacLeod, is an alum.

Decorated in warm colors with lots of wooden décor, the centrally located spot feels cozy and welcoming. Its staffers aren't afraid to recommend its famous old fashioned, or to encourage diners to try unusual items such as butterscotch pudding accompanied by a milkshake laced with Tuaca — an orange-and-vanilla-scented liqueur.

click to enlarge Carpenter & Main - JUSTIN CASH
  • Justin Cash
  • Carpenter & Main

The dinner menu, featuring luxe items such as lobster tail, veal osso buco and whole sea bass, is costly, but those seeking casual fare can find plenty. The reasonably priced bistro menu offers duck confit with warm potato salad, steak frites and a popular local burger.

And then there's the $29 three-course, fixed-price option. On a cool, autumn evening, the meal begins with silky corn soup dotted with crisp salt-pork lardons. Next comes veal piccata, pounded thin, with just the right amount of puckery lemon-caper sauce. Vibrant pink, wild salmon, seared brown on the outside, is accompanied by ultracreamy mashed potatoes and tender cabbage. The desserts — including the pudding-and-milkshake combo — are just as good as their savory counterparts.

In culinary terms, dining at Carpenter & Main qualifies as an Ivy League experience.

This article was originally published in 7 Nights: The Seven Days Guide to Vermont Restaurants & Bars in April 2011.
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About The Author

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Former contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the first Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a goose, butcher a pig, make ramen from scratch, and cook a scallop perfectly.


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