The Whip’ll crack your taste buds into shape

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The interior of the Whip

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In a town like Stowe, Vt, which has more than 45 restaurants and only 4,300 residents, it’s tough to set yourself apart from the rest, and many restaurants end up closing faster than they could open. The downtown Whip Bar and Grille never had to suffer this fate. Situated in the historic Green Mountain Inn at the intersection of Route 100 and Route 108, the Whip has been a Stowe favorite for more than 30 years.

The dark-stained-wood interior is accented by a fireplace in each of the restaurant’s two large dining areas, really bringing to life the cozy New England feel permeating the inn. The evening menu continues this feel bringing together an eclectic array of ingredients to re-create some of the area’s favorite dishes.

A cup of the Whip’s famous New England Corn Chowder is a great start to any meal, or a great end to a long ski day. The buttery cream base houses a healthy (or rather unhealthy) serving of crisp bacon, potatoes and corn with a hint of a black pepper, flirting with your more daring taste buds.

In the coming warm months, the Roasted Beet Salad may be a better option, pairing crispy, fresh arugula with roasted beets, goat cheese and candied hazelnuts, topped with beet caramel, all locally and organically grown. The sweet crunch of the candied hazelnuts plays off the more savory goat cheese to really bring out the unique flavor of the beets.

Another favorite are the Maine Crab Fritters, accompanied by a spicy sriracha dipping sauce. With 12 fritters, the appetizer is more than enough for two diners to split before a meal. The fritters are handmade and deep fried, allowing the outside to have a solid crunch while the inside remains moist and flavorful.

Its well-known starters notwithstanding, the Whip is perhaps best known for its hand-cut steaks. The Gorgonzola-Crusted Filet is always a smart choice for savory steak lovers. The neat filet came out covered with pungent chunks of Gorgonzola covered with a rich shallot demi-glace. The Gorgonzola’s strong flavor was complemented well by the earthy taste of the truffle-infused mashed potatoes.

For those who prefer both quantity and quality, I’d recommend my favorite menu item, the Steak Au Poivre. This seared New York Strip immediately grabbed the attention of the other patrons around me. When I cut into the steak, juices seeped from its red center, mixed with the black peppercorn relish that flowed over the sides and surrounded the steaming mountain of mashed potatoes. At one point an elderly gentleman even left his wife at the bar to come over and ask what I had ordered.

Perhaps the best part is the marinated garlic cloves atop the steak. They just melted on the tongue, basting the interior of my mouth with peppery, garlic goodness. They are also well suited with the mashed potatoes, which are already made with a slight buttery garlic flavor, just enough to keep the vampires away.

If steak isn’t your thing, the Whip has a diverse menu. With the Rhode Island Flounder, the Pan Roasted Sea Bass, Pan Roasted Lamb Loin, Vegetable Tofu Curry and Cauliflower Risotto, there truly is something for every taste.

With all these options it can be easy to overlook some of the Whip’s best offerings: dessert. I personally enjoy the Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp and the Blueberry Apple Crumb Pie, both of which come with local vanilla ice cream, but I decided to try the Whip’s most famous dessert, the Sac d’Bon Bon.

The Sac d’ Bon Bon is essentially a doggie-bag made out of dark chocolate. The “bag” was filled with a creamy chocolate mousse and slathered in fudge sauce. Fresh fruit slices adorned the chocolate masterpiece, splaying out from the bottom.
It should be said that I generally don’t enjoy desserts and chocolate desserts the least of all. Nevertheless, after devouring my whole steak, I still managed to finish the entire Sac d’Bon Bon which is recommended for two!

Even the server, who had been attentive but not stifling, remarked about the tremendous amount of food that had just been consumed.

After dessert came the check, by far the worst part of the meal. I took a glance around and noticed that despite the Whip’s not having a dress code, the restaurant’s patrons were all quite well dressed: The bar was filled with retired couples and businessmen, a welcome reprieve from the wall of burnt out ski bums that’s typical of most Stowe bars.

The Whip definitely may not be the cheapest place to go out in Stowe, but the well-trained staff and impeccable food make the experience well worth it.

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