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The Farmers Diner Ė The frankly brilliant concept here is to source traditional diner food from local purveyors (as much as possible, that is). This would be a fairly easy concept in, say, California, but even in artisan-rich Vermont, this takes some work. The original location in Barre failed despite widespread publicity (including The New York Times), probably due to a general lack of non-local passersby.

Enter Quechee. Now in a classic diner space (a renovated rail car, with a larger side room attached) in the midst of a tourist-attracting collection of Vermonty shops, this venture has every reason to succeed and fulfill its proprietorís dream of eventual franchising. But itís more than just a concept. Itís also a hell of a diner.

The specials, which run from breakfast through a very late lunch that some would call dinner, are good, but itís the classics that really show the quality brought by local ingredients. Do not miss the exquisite house-made French toast, anything involving milk or cream, and the fresh scones. The only disappointment for this pig-loving foodie is the bacon, which is from the dinerís own smokehouse, but should really be from the world-class North Country Smokehouse, which is almost local. Still, that niggle aside, this is a place every diner-loving gourmand should visit, because itís terrific. Lunches and dinners can be excellent as well, and the Strafford Creamery-based milkshakes (try the maple) are like dairy crack.

One caveat, however: service usually ranges from friendly but slow to friendly but hapless. Younger help, in particular, can be utterly clueless, and heaven help the diner who wants to do something "not allowed" by the computer. For example, those who can't eat pork will find no way to substitute for the pork-only meat options with the breakfast packages. Corned beef hash can be ordred as a side (and at much higher cost), but the price of the meat-free assembly won't be reduced as a result. I'm not sure much more should be expected from an inexpensive diner, but it's best to be forewarned. (Review based on many visits to both locations.)


Copyright © Thor Iverson