Litchfield County's Quiet Sophistication

If there’s a dramatic example of how our online voting affected the Readers’ Choice results, it comes in Litchfield County. Taking epicenters like Fairfield County, New Haven and Greater Hartford out of the equation, the gorgeous Litchfield Hills are the region of Connecticut most known for an abundance of world-class dining.

Folks like actor Bill Murray, Hillary Clinton and Henry Kissinger come to the West Street Grill in Litchfield for good reason. Under owners James O’Shea and Charles Kafferman, the food is always perfection, the clubby atmosphere magnetic and the service flawless. And the wine flows.

Community Table in Washington has a young chef, Joel Viehland, who recently scored national honors in Cooking Light magazine for his outstanding and inventive cuisine, and the pastry chef, Tommy Juliano is a wizard; just two reasons Conan O’Brien loves the place.

Arethusa al tavolo is the Tuscan-inspired wine bar/restaurant in Bantam of Manolo Blahnik USA owners George Malkemus and Anthony Yurgaitis. It’s as sophisticated and beautiful as a high-style model in four-inch Manolos. The ideal experience embodied.

Winvian’s chef, Chris Eddy, has taken locavore integrity so far that he grows most of what he cooks on-site, and sells what he can’t use to the locals in a seasonal farmers’ market. The upside for guests at the upscale resort, spa and restaurant is an incomparable dining experience with out-of-this world flavors, especially if you opt to have Winvian pair wines from its vast cellar with each dish.

Good News Café in Woodbury just celebrated 20 years, and the place is still comfortably packed almost every night. Why? Carole Peck’s inventive dishes are breathtaking, always. There’s fine art on the walls in changing exhibits, co-owner Bernard Jarrier (Peck’s husband) brings French élan to the equation, and Bill Clinton (yup, the former president) was one happy vegan when he saw the bean burrito on the menu.

Patty’s in Litchfield: What best-breakfast list is complete without Patty’s, the diminutive home-style operation where folks wait in line outside the door on Sunday mornings to get whopping-good plates of waffles, eggs, omelets and more.

The Cookhouse in New Milford is the place for barbecue in the region; always has been. What else is there to say?

The White Horse Country Pub in the Marbledale section of Washington is an English country pub transported to the Litch-field Hills. After perfecting the recipe of great pub food with matching beers, wines and cocktails, owner John Harris went the extra mile to add authentic ambience with unbelievable items like an Indian motorcycle (behind the bar) and guitar signed by the Rolling Stones; i.e., you can get some satisfaction.

Oliva Café in New Preston: Chef Riad Aamar brings delicious Mediterranean flair to everything the kitchen turns out, presented with a genuine rustic simplicity, in a charming space. No surprise it draws boldface names; we’ll out actress Christine Baranski and French Culinary Institute founder Dorothy Hamilton as fans, but equally and more famous folks love Aamar’s cuisine, though he’s admirably protective of them and we have to respect that.

Other top places to seek out:
The Hopkins Inn overlooking Lake Waramaug.
The Mayflower Inn & Spa: Under its new owners. Stay tuned—it’s going to be great again.
G.W. Tavern in Washington Depot: Fireplace in the winter, hearty comfort food always.
Infinity Music Hall & Bistro in Norfolk: Look above at the scallops dish from The Litchfield County TimesPassport magazine—you’re probably calling for a reservation right now.

 

Litchfield County's Quiet Sophistication

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