Arlington’s West Mountain Inn is an extravagant luxury: the food, the decor, even the service are done to lavish extremes. The Inn, built in 1849, is nestled back into a densely wooded forest not far off Rt. 7-N, the shingles and pathway illuminated by Christmas lights and the glow of the fires within. It exudes warmth and hospitality, inviting to a mature crowd. For the Inn’s patrons, board games and books are set out on a coffee table near a fireplace in the living room.
However, as college students we were treated no differently than the older clientele seated around us, those who obviously were escaping for the weekend to stay in one of the Inn’s eighteen rooms. Service is casual and friendly, although we had a hard time getting seated due to the lack of a hostess. The front desk is equipped with a hand bell to command the attention of a waitress, though the peace in the adjoining living room made it hard to muster up the courage to destroy the quiet.
After being seated, the first of several waitresses delivered the prix fixe menu. Given a choice between appetizers (including a Venison chili for the adventuresome), we both selected the Vermont Cheddar-Potato Pancakes, served with a boursin cream sauce with julienne apple slices and scallions. The sauce was heavy and robust, complementary to the lightness of the potato pancakes, and the scallion’s flavor was piquant without being overpowering Mike determined that the appetizer was the best part of his meal, describing it as an understated, yet refreshing, palate pleaser.
Small salads came next, drenched in dressing. MJ selected an Asiago Caesar, and Mike chose a balsamic vinaigrette. The chilled iceberg lettuce provided a welcome respite from the wilted greens served out of the bins in Mission, though the salad as a whole, with few embellishments, was unremarkable.
A palate cleanser, a small scoop of mango-lime sorbet (courtesy of Ben and Jerry’s), arrived promptly as the next brief course, followed immediately by the entrÃ©es. MJ had picked the roasted chicken breast, stuffed with prosciutto and served over a red pepper coulis. The peppered chicken was tender and juicy and the prosciutto was slightly sweet. However, it was the coulis that completed the dish: tangy and faintly sour, it was soaked up into the chicken and further flavored the bird.
On the side, the green beans were oily but not greasy and crisply steamed. The rice pilaf was strangely disappointing, bland and dry and largely ignored in favor of the chicken.
Mike’s filet mignon came also with green beans and supplemented with a mound of mashed potatoes. He determined his plate to be perfectly flavorful, though uninspired in terms of presentation.
Mike finished off his meal with the cranberry-apple crisp. The dessert treat was a welcome finishing touch to a fantastic meal. MJ’s Baked Alaska arrived sloppily prepared, sumptuous but too sugary. Gingerbread was heaped with ginger Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and piled with whipped meringue?difficult and gooey to consume, but satisfying to the sweet tooth.
The menu widely lacks vegetarian and light-fare options, but the West Mountain Inn is intended for those who are willing to indulge themselves entirely in the ideal of rural Vermont cuisine. Additionally, with dinner at a fixed price of $38, it’s also best for those with larger allowances or parents in town (and no young siblings). However, if you happen to inherit a small fortune and want to impress a date or just get away for sublime food, this is a fantastic option, just far enough off campus to enjoy your procrastination.