The 15 best US states for first-time homebuyers


by Tanza Loudenback, Business Insider Mar. 1, 2017, 3:10 PM

Vermont comes in at #9

The narrative that millennials are eschewing all of the traditional habits of their parents is simply a myth, particularly when it comes to homebuying.

In fact, 65% of millennials still consider buying a home part of the American Dream, more than any other generation.`

But burdensome student loan debt, high rent prices, and low wages are affecting their ability to save up for a down payment, contributing to the lowest homeownership rate in the US in decades.

Still, these factors vary across cities and states, and there are some places where it's more attainable for first-time buyers to enter the market.

New data from Bankrate discovered how first-time homebuyers fare in all 50 US states considering five factors:

  • Housing affordability: percentage of median household income for 25- to 44-year-olds that goes toward mortgage payments (using the median sale price)
  • Entry-level job market: five-year average unemployment rate for 25- to 34-year-olds
  • Market tightness: growth in housing stock from 2010 to 2015 and the percentage of homes for sale
  • Credit availability: percentage of home loans rejected by credit lenders
  • Millennial homeownership rate: percentage of homeowners under 35

Bankrate weighted each category equally to determine its ranking. States in the Midwest and the non-coastal West proved to be the most accommodating to first-time homebuyers, while California, New York, and Hawaii are the toughest states.

Click here to check out the 15 states where it's easiest to become a homeowner.
Click here to jump right to Vermont.

The metrics included below were all used to calculate Bankrate's ranking, with the exception of median home value, which was sourced independently from Zillow.

Helen Day Art Center: Student Art Show 2012


Helen Day Art Center’s Student Art Show exhibits emerging talent in Lamoille Valley

Opens Thursday, May 3rd, 3:00-5:00 p.m.

On Thursday May 3rd at 3:00 p.m. the gallery doors will open on a spectacular group of artwork from local students. Stowe Elementary, Middle, and High school art students will exhibit their work along with this year’s guest: Waitsfield Elementary School. Complimentary servings of Ice Cream will be served thanks to Stowe Ice Cream.

Students, inspired by visits to Helen Day Art Center exhibitions and by their teachers, build skills in multiple media while simultaneously finding their expressive voice. The evidence of this ongoing process is amazing and it lines the walls of the Center which produces this exhibition annually to honor the talent of these students.

Maddie Schaal


The artwork includes: painting, drawing, collage, metal work, ceramics, photography and graphic design, taught by five dedicated teachers: Jen Volansky, Stowe Elementary; Averill McDowell, Stowe Middle; Kate Crouse & Carleen Zimbalatti, Stowe HS; Nora SK McDonough, Waitsfield Elementary. Subject matter is broad as well encompassing imagery that is abstract, figurative, imaginary, and practical.

Lynn Rublee, Education Coordinator at the Art Center as well as other staff will help select award winners among high school artists.

The exhibition is made possible by Partner: Robert Paul Galleries and by Sponsors: XPress Printing and Copying, Stowe Reporter, The Art Store, Black Cap Coffee, Cafe on Main, McCarthy’s Restaurant, Stowe Hardware and Dry Goods, and Stowe Ice Cream

Bjorn Westervelt

For more information, contact: Lynn Rublee Education Coordinator Helen Day Art Center 5 School Street Stowe, Vermont 05672 (802) 253-8358


Images: Maddie Schaal, Claire Driscoll, Bjorn Westervelt

Tonight: Carnegie Hall Presents the Sound of Music

in a special one-night-only performance of the classic Broadway musical

Jane Levere, Contributor FORBES LIFESTYLE | 4/24/2012 @ 11:13AM

Youngest von Trapp Child Discusses 'The Sound Of Music'

Tonight’s gala concert performance of The Sound of Music at New York’s Carnegie Hall will reunite one of Maria von Trapp’s ten singing children with an actor from the 1965 film of the beloved musical.

Johannes von Trapp, the youngest child of Baron Georg von Trapp and Maria Kutschera, is an honorary chair of the gala, while Daniel Truhitte, who played Rolfe, the suitor of Liesl, a von Trapp daughter in the film, will appear in the concert as Baron Elberfeld, a guest at a party given by the baron.

Johannes von Trapp, now 72 and the owner of the Trapp Family Lodge, a resort in Stowe, VT, said he was “looking forward to being in New York.  It will be exciting, it will bring back memories of the opening night (of the Broadway production, in 1959), meeting Marlene Dietrich at the St. Regis after-party.”

Von Trapp and three of his sisters—Maria, Rosmarie and Eleanore, all of whom also live in Vermont—are the four surviving von Trapp children; seven were born to Baron von Trapp and his first wife, while the last three were born to von Trapp and his second wife, Maria, the nun who took care of the children after von Trapp was widowed.  The children performed as the Trapp Family Singers throughout Europe before World War II and later in the United States, where Johannes was born; he sang with his siblings from age seven to 17, until 1956, when they stopped performing.

Von Trapp said his mother had a “good relationship” with Mary Martin, who portrayed her in the Broadway musical–written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and inspired by a book by Maria that was turned into a 1956 German film–and with Richard Halliday and Leland Heywood, the musical’s producers with Rodgers and Hammerstein.   However, he said the musical’s filmmakers “kept us at arm’s length.”

The Trapp Family Lodge predates both the Broadway musical and film, he said.  “My mother loved having people around.  When we were away traveling, there were empty rooms and the ski industry was just starting.  It seemed to make sense to rent out the rooms when we weren’t here.  That’s how we stumbled into the resort industry,” he said.

Von Trapp called the musical’s enduring popularity “pretty amazing.  It does handle a whole bunch of universal themes, family, love of family, love of a man and a woman, love of country, good versus evil.”

The film is “surprisingly” even a “huge” success in China, he added.

Discussing both the Broadway and film versions of The Sound of Music, von Trapp’s sister, Maria, says on the Trapp Family Lodge Web site: “The Sound of Music is a musical and was never meant to be a documentary about our life. Rodgers and Hammerstein were inspired to write it after reading our mother’s book, The Story of The Trapp Family. As we had given all of our rights to the German film company, we had no control over the content of The Sound of Music.

“When I first saw The Sound of Music, I was disappointed by the way father was represented. This came to me one day during a stage show in California, after which the stage father apologized that he was obliged to misrepresent my father – we had discussed this problem before the show. I told him about the resolution that came to me during the performance about my father’s true character of principles and as someone who acted upon them. My feelings of disappointment were no longer a problem from that moment on.

“A common question of the Trapp family is which family member is played by the movie characters? The names of the movie characters are not the real names of the sons and daughters” of the von Trapps.

Truhitte said he was the last person cast in the film version of the musical.

“There was no time for a screen test.  They gave me a scene to read, to see if I could be believable.  I was a very strong dancer,” he said.

Truhitte–who is 69, lives in Concord, N.C., and continues to perform–said the film’s exteriors were shot in Austria, where the von  Trapps had lived, the interiors in Hollywood.

The film, he added, “had wonderful music, a wonderful director and choreographer, wonderful, gifted people.  We knew it was pretty special, but we didn’t know it would endure.”

The Carnegie Hall concert also will feature Laura Osnes, who has appeared in Bonnie & Clyde and Anything Goes on Broadway, as Maria Rainer; Tony Goldwyn, from Broadway’s Promises, Promises and the film version of Ghost, as Captain von Trapp; film and Broadway actress Brooke Shields as Else Schraeder; and Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Stephanie Blythe as the Mother Abbess.  It will benefit the music education and community programs of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute.

Alice Eats: Brunch at Rusty Nail Bar & Grille

BY ALICE LEVITT ON APRIL 17, 2012 | SEVEN DAYSThe Rusty Nail There's nothing like a lovely spring day to stir brunch cravings. I'm ready for a Benedict at any time of year, but when I headed to the Rusty Nail Bar & Grille on Sunday, I was met by a brunch rush that could only have been kindled by the 70-degree weather and plenty of outdoor seating.

Having an obsessive fear of sun damage, I was happy to stay inside. Our hostess had some difficulty processing that idea, but, hey, it got me a table right away.

A table filled with local ingredients for Bloody Marys sat beside the bar, and general manager Kate Wise told us that she was making excellent Irish coffees that day. But even at 2 p.m., I just wasn't in the head (or body) space for cocktails.

I was feeling more like a bacon, egg and cheeseburger between two duck-fat doughnuts. Unfortunately, the "Donaught" had just sold out. A burger served on doughnuts had sold out? This brunch crowd was serious, and apparently had learned nothing from Paula Deen's diabetes. My kind of crew.

Chicken and wChicken and Waffles at the Rusty Nailaffles would just have to do. The crunchy waffle was cooked a minute or two longer than I would have preferred, but was still delicious. It was the first sourdough waffle I ever tried. The starter gave it a deep underlying tang at the end of each malty bite. Caramelized peaches seasoned with Chinese five-spice powder took the place of syrup as a sweetener, though I wish there had been even more of the irresistible fruit.

If the waffle was slightly dry, the five meaty chicken wings made up for it. Brilliantly brined, the flaky, peppery breading peeled away to reveal gorgeously moist and flavorful meat.

The eggs Benny's name did little to hint at the uncommon wonders of the dish. First, the homemade English muffins. Thicker and chewier than Thomas', they were an ideally hearty base for the glories built upon it.

Thin slices of chile-roasted pork shoulder and belly were fatty in a moist, delicious Eggs Bennyway, not a greasy one. The meat melted in my mouth with a delightful kiss of heat. Both eggs were poached to reveal an ideally creamy center. Frankly, though, it wasn't necessary in the wake of the Hollandaise. Luxuriously creamy, a hint of smoke from chipotle peppers stayed with me even after I'd finished the dish.

Frequent readers might recall that I'm a stickler about home fries. These were nicely seasoned and fried in duck fat. This gave them a hint of sweetness that contrasted marvelously with a liberal covering of salt. When I reheated them at dinnertime with my leftover chicken and waffles, they were just as good as they had been at brunch.

Even as I write this, I'm salivating. And preparing to face the Donaught soon.

Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to

March 28, 2012: Season #9: My Last Ski Patrol Day

Chuck Talks in the Over Easy at Stowe Mountain Resort


Chuck Talks on Easy Street Line Check at Stowe Mountain Resort

Beach Weather at Stowe Mountain Resort

This is me on Wednesday, March 21, 2011. It was in the high 70s to low 80s all day. I'd received an eMail from my son Jeff, who lives in Colorado, telling me that his ski season and ended and he was now focusing on mountain biking. He even included a photo. So, I asked my friend, T. Lane, to snap a photo of me, with my iPhone, outside our patrol station, which I sent right back to Colorado. Just about every patroller skied all day in a T-shirt!

Charlie Aronovici at Stowe Mountain Resort 3-21-2012

Chartis 2012 Winter Summit at Stowe Mountain Resort

Chartis 2012 Winter Summit at Stowe Mountain Resort Benefits Disable Sports USA Warfighter Sports Program

Chartis 2012 Winter Summit at Stowe Mountain Resort Benefits Disable Sports USA Warfighter Sports Program

The Chartis 2012 Winter Summit, benefiting Disabled Sports USA’s (DS/USA) Warfighter Sports Program is underway at Stowe Mountain Resort, having started on Tuesday, and ending tomorrow Yesterday, some of my fellow patrollers and I rotated through short shifts at the top of the race course, keeping a patrol and EMT presence on the hill, from start to finish.

Here are 3 photos I shot with my iPhone shortly before the race began.

While on the slopes, event attendees were able to participate in practice runs with celebrity ski host and Olympic gold medalist Tommy Moe. ABC News Correspondent Bob Woodruff is serving as the event’s keynote speaker.

In its 24th year, the Winter Summit is a business-building event attended by a number of participants across the insurance industry. The event combines Chartis-led panel sessions with ski and snowboarding races, forming a fundraising platform on behalf of DS/USA whose Warfighter Sports Program offers sports rehabilitation for those wounded in combat.  Mr. Woodruff’s remarks on the closing evening of the Winter Summit will address efforts to assist injured service members, veterans and their families -- including those involved in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars – along with related issues. Read the complete press release here.

Chartis 2012 Winter Summit at Stowe Mountain Resort Benefits Disable Sports USA Warfighter Sports Program

Chartis 2012 Winter Summit at Stowe Mountain Resort Benefits Disable Sports USA Warfighter Sports Program

Chartis 2012 Winter Summit at Stowe Mountain Resort Benefits Disable Sports USA Warfighter Sports Program

Chartis 2012 Winter Summit at Stowe Mountain Resort Benefits Disable Sports USA Warfighter Sports Program

Hotly anticipated Waterbury pub Prohibition Pig opens this week

Big Pig


It’s been almost seven months since the Alchemist Pub & Brewery was forced to shut its doors in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene’s wrath. This week, its devotees will finally be able to return to the beloved building with the opening of Prohibition Pig.

Guests will see many familiar faces, says owner Chad Rich. Of the 14 full-time employees at the Alchemist when it closed, 11 are now on staff at Prohibition Pig. The familiar burgers, fries, wings and pretzels are there, too, along with Alchemist brews, now produced on higher ground at the Alchemist Cannery.

Those beers are among 24 on tap and 120 bottles, giving PP one of the largest craft-beer lists in the Northeast. The bar also stocks about 100 bottles of craft spirits, many of them hard to find.

Rich, the former bar manager at the Farmhouse Tap & Grill, has given that role at PP to Jeff Baumann, who was once his boss behind the bar at American Flatbread Burlington Hearth. By the end of the year, Rich hopes to begin distilling several of his own drinks.

For now, Baumann has conceived a list of 12 cocktails made from craft-distilled beverages — and some other surprising ingredients. The Averna Flip features herbaceous Amaro mixed with chocolate stout, bitters and a whole egg. The Red Delicious pays homage to Rich’s formative years in North Carolina with Noilly Prat vermouth, applejack, Campari and the deep-red Southern soda Cheerwine.

The food nods southward, too. Rich chose former Flatbread chef Brian Sheehan to head his kitchen because of his way with meat. “I just used to see it on all the specialty flatbreads, braising meats, doing the amazing things he did,” says Rich. “He’s really talented. I’m really excited about his food.”

Construction of some parts of the building took longer than expected, but the kitchen has been completed for weeks. In that interval, Sheehan has been perfecting the vinegar-sauced Carolina-style barbecue that gives the restaurant its name.

Though Rich says he doesn’t want his business to be known just as a barbecue joint, he’s particularly taken with Sheehan’s brisket. As for the smoked, seared fish, he touts it as “something I can go in and eat many times a week, and I don’t feel guilty about eating it, either.” Rich will make room for shrimp and grits, too. Most likely, so will a slew of new fans.

Market Data Update: Stowe "Selling Prices to Listing Prices"

Stowe 2011 Residential Selling Prices to Listed PricesThe 2011 Residential (not including Condominiums) Selling Prices to Listing Prices in Stowe, Vermont were, on average -9%. That is, most homes in Stowe sold, in 2011, at 9% below their Listing Price. See this new chart here.

Taste Test: Crop Bistro & Brewery

A Crop Divided

Photo: Tom Bivins - Crop Bistro - Stowe, VT

By CORIN HIRSCH [02.21.12] — Seven Days

When the crew behind Crop Bistro & Brewery began revamping the space in Stowe where the Shed Restaurant & Brewery had reigned for 45 years, they trod carefully. After all, the Shed was a beloved local hangout with its own mythos, where the food seemed almost immaterial to the scene and the ever-flowing beer.

So as restaurateur and chef Steve Schimoler (co-owner of Waterbury’s now-closed Mist Grill) began gutting the place after the Shed closed last fall, he was careful to preserve the pub’s feel. The Crop gang scrubbed and tore away decades of funk and smoke and spilled beer, but kept the bar, the layout and the cozy, woodsy feel.

In the spacious dining rooms on the other side of the building, Schimoler went whole hog with the renovation, decking out the main bistro room with an elegant, circular bar adorned with gnarled cedar boughs. With its warm-toned walls and floors, Peter Miller photographs, and humongous stone fireplace, the space is drop-dead gorgeous.

As his culinary ace in the hole, Schimoler partnered with Tom Bivins, former executive chef at the New England Culinary Institute. After stints at the Inn at Shelburne Farms and Warren’s Pitcher Inn (which he opened), Bivins had been at the school for eight years, cementing his reputation as an inventive chef and champion of local — particularly wildcrafted — foods. Just a few months ago, he won the Chef of the Year award from the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

A high-profile chef, a high-profile spot and a stunning new dining room. So is the food immaterial to the scene at Crop Bistro? No, but it’s still finding its footing.

Key to understanding this work in progress, perhaps, is noting that the restaurant’s concept was imported from Crop Bistro & Bar in Cleveland. Schimoler founded that establishment five years ago as both a farm-to-table eatery and a food lab, in many ways an extension of his work as a food scientist and researcher for Cabot Creamery and Nestlé. In Ohio, Crop has earned a reputation as an innovative, playful spot where the kitchen marries fresh produce with modern culinary gear such as vacuum tumblers.

Its name has become something of a brand, adorning many dish names (Crop Cobb, Crop Burger, Crop Pops) on the Vermont menus, which can be a tad confusing. There’s a bistro menu and a pub menu, but they refer to times of day rather than places. Whether patrons sit in the pub or the main dining room, they can order from the same lunch and dinner menus, the same wine, beer and creative cocktail lists.

Some of the starters come straight from the Ohio menu — for instance, deviled eggs dusted with chili powder ($4 for four), two of which are topped with bits of crispy, salty bacon. The Cherry Bomb ($7), a plate of two Roma tomatoes stuffed with chorizo sausage and Jack cheese, wrapped in wonton shells and deep fried, comes off as a midwestern snack — gut sticking and kind of greasy. Cleveland diners reportedly have gone wild for Crop Pops, the warm, savory popcorn drizzled with various sauces. A $4 bowl of popcorn with balsamic vinegar, wilted arugula and sun-dried tomatoes is a sweet-salty and inventive snack, albeit a little soggy and best ordered alone as bar food rather than as an appetizer — it’s filling.

Other appetizers (and main dishes) mimic their Cleveland cousins with rustic twists. For instance, in Ohio, braised pork belly is served over a malt waffle; in Stowe, the cubes of luscious meat are crisped on one side and served over a delicious tangle of cider-braised cabbage ($10). It’s almost a meal in itself.

Other appetizers are less well balanced or muted in flavor. A cheddar-and-ale soup had the cheering color of golden sunshine but was on the thin side, both in consistency and taste. Also disappointing was a plate of broiled Blue Point oysters ($12 for six). Instead of having blistered flesh, these were only slightly warmed before being bathed in what tasted like a roux; the toothpick-thin radishes scattered across the top accentuated the textural discordance.

From the start, the owners have been clear that Crop is not trying to be a “white tablecloth” restaurant. Still, the more I ate here, the more I picked up on a kind of dissonance. Perhaps those Ohio-born dishes are out of place in Vermont, or perhaps the kitchen is still working things out, or perhaps the two separate dining spaces have brought about a similar fjord in the menu.

It can be unfair to pin a dish’s success on its surroundings, but I found myself happier eating most of Crop’s fare in the pub, where it felt more at home. Take the Raclette ($10): a double-fist-size cast-iron pan layered with soft, steamed potatoes and oozing raclette cheese (from Spring Brook Farm) and laced with minced, piquant cornichons and red onions. With a pint of beer in the other hand, this was the perfect unfussy, filling après-ski snack. In the more majestic dining room, it seemed unanchored and dwarfed by its surroundings.

Same with the po’boy, stuffed with light-as-a-feather fried, crunchy oysters and drizzled with tangy, messy remoulade slaw. In the pub, the sandwich was a finger-licking snack. Set down in the dining room, it looked underdressed for the ball. So did the Poulet Confit sandwich, filled with shredded chicken and slathered with a scrumptious grain mustard; in the pub, I could be more forgiving of its slight dryness. (The fries that came with both sandwiches were long, fingerlike, moist and fresh.)

Each night brings a weekly special here, and I looked forward to the braised short ribs offered on Wednesdays. However, when I visited, the ribs were replaced by tenderloin. I opted instead for a Crop Burger, a wide, flat patty delivered on a glossy, almost-blackened bun. Though the burger came medium-rare as requested, the meat lacked a depth of flavor, a flaw that even melted cheddar, tangy ketchup and mustard, grilled red onion, and two crisscrossed slices of maple-cured bacon could not disguise.

To be fair, I was much more interested in the small-plates list and didn’t delve too deeply into the entrée menu, which includes dishes such as scallops with “chorizo dust” and grilled skirt steak in a ginger and porter sauce. I expect that, in Bivins’ hands, the truffled mushroom and barley risotto is an earthy delight. But we were definitely thrilled with a warm salad of succulent lobster chunks tossed with fingerling potatoes and a creamy, saffron-like sauce lightly laced with sherry ($25).

If Crop’s food sometimes leaned to the restrained side, the drinks did not, at least flavor-wise. The cocktail menu includes a stellar, puckery sidecar and a not-to-miss libation called a Mr. Figgy, a martini glass filled with bourbon, fig reduction and rosemary shards and garnished with maple-cured bacon. The bar offers some 15 wines by the glass — including two sparklers — and an eclectic list of reasonably priced bottles.

In a few weeks, 1859 Mountain Road will again become a bona-fide brewery with the arrival of new equipment from Germany. Schimoler says brewer Mark Ewald will concentrate on food-friendly beers such as kölsch and lager, sometimes using hops grown out back. For now, the exuberant tap-beer list includes Rodenbach Grand Cru, Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA and the smokin’ new Fiddlehead Brewing IPA from Shelburne.

Those beers may be the main draw between 2 and 5 p.m, when the eatery switches to a pub menu composed mostly of snacks. (Those who arrive right after 2, as I did one afternoon, will find the cutoff is quite strict.) Whether it’s afternoon or evening, diners may find the service at Crop can be languid. In the pub, we had to ask three times for water, once for a fork when the second courses arrived and so on. In the bistro, service was snappier, but our waitress disappeared for significant stretches.

Crop feels like it’s trying to do a tricky balancing act — adapting a menu from one region to another, making that menu work in two very different dining rooms and negotiating the Stowe site’s past and future. In Vermont, farm-to-table is practically a second language, and this ski town is crowded with dining options that shoot for the mid-palate. Once local gardens and woods start teeming with life again, it would be gratifying to see Crop find its ground, literally and figuratively, with a menu as wild and free as the imaginations of its partners.

Crop Bistro & Brewery, 1859 Mountain Road, Stowe, 253-4765.


National Geographic: Stowe is one of the World's 25 Best Ski Towns

Snowboarder surrounded by snow covered trees at Stowe Ski resort. Just what makes a classic ski town? It starts, naturally, with skiing and snowboarding so good they attract people like youth-bestowing fountains. Then add an inviting mountain burg steeped in ski heritage, amenities, and culture. These are the 25 best. For insider tips, we asked local luminaries where to stay, play, and party, whether you're on a budget or indulging. (Read the about the other 24 towns here.)                                    —Aaron Teasdale

Stowe, Vermont

Best For: Patrician eastern U.S. skiers with a taste for fine dining

The archetypal New England ski village, Stowe is an impossibly quaint town of clapboard houses and steepled churches set in wooded hills at the foot of Vermont’s Green Mountains. Main Street and Mountain Road are alive with boutiques and eateries. The larger community harbors more three- and four-star restaurants than any ski town in the Northeast. Partiers take note: Luxury lodging abounds, late-night revelry does not. You come to Stowe to live in a postcard, not a Harold and Kumar movie.

The skiing takes place a 15-minute drive up the road at Stowe Mountain Resort, where high-speed quads and gondolas whisk you up two separate mountains. Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont, has plenty to offer adventurous skiers and snowboarders, including the famed “front four”—four double-black diamond runs that are among the most challenging in the East. Spruce Peak, newly connected by a short gondola ride to Mansfield, is the place for beginners, with its ski school and gently arcing blue and green runs. Side- and backcountry skiing from the area is some of the best in the East, including Mount Mansfield’s original run, the Bruce Trail, a narrow, twisting, 2,400-foot drop cut by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the early 1930s.

Ask a Local

Sam von Trapp, from the family made famous by The Sound of Music, is a ski instructor and helps to manage the Trapp Family Lodge, a world-class Nordic lodge and the first commercial cross-country ski resort in the United States. Here are his recommendations.

Best Digs

Budget: Town and Country Resort at Stowe offers great bang for the buck.

Swank: Stowe Mountain Lodge is ski-in, ski-out and five stars.

Best Eats

Cheap: Pie in the Sky Pizza

Gourmet: The Blue Moon Cafe, right in the center of town

Best After-Ski Party Spot

The Mattherhorn bar is a Stowe institution.

Best Rest-Day Activity

The Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum is right in the center of town and a great opportunity to indulge in ski culture while resting the legs.

Stowe’s Classic Ski Run

There are tons of great lines off-piste, but try the Goat. It’s narrow, steep, and challenging.

First Bite: O'Grady's Grill & Bar, Stowe

Inland Sea

BY CORIN HIRSCH [02.07.12] | Seven Days

With his ruddy cheeks and earnest demeanor, Kevin O’Grady certainly looks Irish. And a passerby on Stowe’s Mountain Road could be forgiven for thinking his namesake eatery is exclusively Irish, too — a classic pub with plenty of beer and hearty food.

That’s what I expected to find inside the rambling place where the Partridge Inn Seafood Restaurant used to reside. But when O’Grady — a former radio advertising salesman — purchased the place in late fall and began renovations, he talked about not just beer and pub fare but also seafood, saying it would still loom large on the menu. After all, the restaurant shares grounds, and will soon share a building, with Stowe Seafood.

When O’Grady’s opened in late December, its menu was peppered with Irish/English classics such as shepherd’s pie, corned beef and cabbage, and Irish nachos — the requisite oversized portions of gut-sticking fare. One visit, though, was enough to raise my seafood antenna, and, after two visits, I thought of O’Grady’s as a miniature ocean in this mountain burg.

Sure, diners can come here for the warm vibe, the copious beer and the bold flavorings of chef John Howell, who once presided over the Cliff House at Stowe Mountain Resort. (The Maryland-born Howell also cheffed for five years in North Carolina, and the first clue to his Southern provenance arrives with the bread basket: It’s filled with warm cornbread muffins and banana bread.) But there’s much here for fish-heads to love, and at gentle prices, too.

Inside, O’Grady’s has a dual personality. On one side, two huge dining rooms are painted in cool tones, their tables generously spaced. On the other, a blood-red pub features beamed ceilings, two televisions, a long bar, a few high tables and clever, homey touches: The staff keep liquor bottles on an old stairway, an antique copper tub is filled with ice and bottles of beer, and taps are installed in a horizontal beam behind the bar.

It was here that I downed six plump, crisp Thatch Island oysters ($13 for six), served on a bed of salt with a punchy tomato mignonette. They were so fresh, they tasted almost ethereal; the starter promised more good things to come.

A few days later, I tucked into a plate of Ed’s Fish ($9), named for Stowe Seafood owner Ed Flanagan. The slivers of snow-white haddock were first dipped in an Otter Creek Alpine Black IPA beer batter, then deep-fried and piled atop moist, fingerlike fries. Once again, the fish was fresh and light as a feather, almost a meal in itself.

So, too, was another gem from the starters list: a bowl of tender steamed clams ($8), bobbing around in a buttery broth laced with slivers of tomato and herbs.

The parade of seafood continued through the larger plates. A rosy filet of Arctic char ($19) with a paper-thin potato crust was tasty, though somewhat dwarfed in flavor by the powerfully smoky cheddar mashed potatoes served alongside it. A seafood cioppino ($17) yielded hunks of über-fresh salmon, shrimp and clams, with curls of roasted red pepper for sweetness and charred slices of crusty, garlicky Elmore Mountain Bread to mop up the juices.

O’Grady’s offers lovers of landbound fare plenty of dishes, as well, most of them composed with careful attention to flavor. A grilled romaine salad, tossed with artichokes and a tangy grain-mustard dressing spiked with minced anchovies, was rich with charred, earthy notes. A half rack of ribs ($15), falling-from-the-bone tender, was rather sweet, but tempered slightly by the baked beans and creamed spinach sides.

The tap beer selection is local but not wildly original — think Magic Hat #9 and Switchback. But a few creative cocktails, including an Irish Manhattan (made with Irish whiskey), and thoughtful wines round out the menu.

Though I haven’t had those Irish nachos yet, I saw them delivered to other diners a few times. They appeared to be a tangle of potato slivers smothered in melted cheese, dotted with crème fraiche and kissed by chives. And they disappeared quickly. Someday I’ll give them a try, too — if I can wean myself from the fish.

O’Grady's Grill & Bar, 504 Mountain Road, Stowe. Info, 253-8233.