Hen of the Wood opened in Waterbury in October 2005 in an old brick feed mill building that is no longer functional. Out back of the thick slate walls is the waterfall that once powered this business. Chef Eric Warnstedt opened the place to showcase Vermont grower’s products. As you enter the old building you’ll find some seating to use while waiting for your table as well as the bathrooms. Down the stairs is the restaurant and kitchen. Upstairs is the residence of the owner of the building who plans to re-purpose the building and so this location will have to move sometime in the near future. It will take a lot to match the ambiance of this place but according to the server it will offer the kitchen added abilities and space for a wood fire among other additions. I’m sure there will also be added space for diners, as it is fairly small now. For now the room is really dark, lit only by candlelight, light from the kitchen and some small overhead fixtures. The bare wood tables are small but well spaced, wood beams cross the ceiling and there is one large table dropped down a half level in the middle of the room. Windows to the outdoors are dark but there is a porch where you can walk out and listen to the waterfall and probably eat out there when the weather permits. They are only the second restaurant to be located in this historic building.
Hen of the Wood Mushroom toast contained bacon and poached egg on grilled bread. This is considered a classic of the restaurant. Tasty bacon and sauteéd mushroom were on the top of grilled bread and then topped with a poached egg. The flavors were wonderful. It was yummy good. The egg stayed nicely runny and blended in with the richness of the mushroom and bacon flavors. It was great.
Delicata Squash was on whipped ricotta and mixed with Golden raisins, apple cider and pumpkin seeds. Another amazing dish. The rings of squash had been perfectly caramelized and were a great combination with the seeds and raisins. It was a wonderful combination of textures and flavors. There was plenty for 2 in this second yummy ‘small plate.’
They offer a Ribeye for two and it came with grilled Carmen peppers and Cipollini onions alongside smoked potatoes with cheddar. The tender, sliced and flavorful meat was cooked nicely rare as ordered and topped with browned onion slices alongside 2 large peppers topped with green herbs and cheese. All was excellent. In a separate dish were the mashed potatoes that were nicely done. It was plenty for 2 and a delicious main dish.
We had talked with our lovely server Rebecca about our experience at the Burlington location and remarked that it wasn’t nearly as good as the original location. She was dismayed that even the Parker House Rolls were disappointing and so she brought us 2 of theirs to try. They were served with a cultured radish butter and were wonderful. They were soft and warm with a good texture and taste. I was impressed that she cared enough that she wanted to redeem the place.
Pumpkin Cake came with a cream cheese mousse, gingerbread, meringue and pickled raisins. It was arranged in various piles on the plate dotted with the meringue kisses. Again is was plenty to split for 2. There was almost too much and too much spice in it, if that can make any sense. It held lots of flavors and textures but just wasn’t as good as the savory courses.