Directly across the street from the Norwich Inn is Carpenter & Main, a gem less mainstream than PINE, with a more relaxed atmosphere than Simon Pearce (not to mention closer to Hanover). Featuring classic French dishes with a contemporary twist, it’s a great place for parents, friends or a date. The dining area is even split in half, with a more casual bar and dining section adjacent to a “stuffier” dining hall ambience. No matter whom you’re with, make sure to take full advantage of the extensive array of appetizers.
The one-of-a-kind hors d’œvres distinguish Carpenter & Main from other Upper Valley restaurants. Feel free to mix and match any of the spreads and finger foods and with appetizer prices ranging from just $4-$12, you can afford to splurge on something you’ve never heard of before or nosh on what you’ve always been too intimidated to order.
Head Chef Bruce Macleod, a Dartmouth grad ’84, is attuned to students’ culinary desires and changes the menu seasonally. For those over 21, the bar and drinks selection are superb. While the menu is full of fresh ingredients and inventive pairings, I recommend ordering seafood, as items such as the flatbread and sweet potato cakes fall short in comparison to standout seafood dishes.
For a $4 appetizer, choose the roasted beets over the avocado fries, unless you regularly eat avocado on its own rather than an added ingredient.
For seafood appetizers, the roasted oysters with spinach and leek and the sautéed escargots were well seasoned and succulent. The calamari was crispy, easy to chew and paired with the perfect sauce.
For a main course, try the mammoth-sized, soft and tender spring chicken cooked under a brick with maple roasted Brussels sprouts and creamy potato puree or the zesty and dynamic crispy duck confit with warm potato salad and mesclun greens with whole grain mustard vinaigrette.
The service was speedy and friendly; our waiter even went out of his way to stand on a chair to take a group picture! Carpenter & Main is a culinary jewel not to be missed.
Location: 326 Main St, Norwich, VT 05055
Hours of Operation: Wed-Sat 5:30-10pm, Sun 5:30-9pm