The Height of Barn Chic In The Middle of the Country

By: Tabitha Armstrong | 03.23.17

Best Features: Food Was Delicious; Plenty of Parking, Full Bar, Plenty of Seating, Friendly Staff

The Downside: Not A Great Place for Younger Kids; Server Wasn’t Very Knowledgeable About the Menu Items and What Was In Them; The Menu Is Very Small; Brighton is Far From Everywhere Else

Average Price Range: $15-$30 a person

Mountain Rating: 7/10

What’s Barn Chic? I know that is a question many of you are asking yourself.

Barn Chic is the term coined by city designers to describe the blend of country and modern styles. It is often characterized by lots of rough wood, country décor, with elements of modern style like open light bulbs, exposed wires, and metal accents.

So what does this have to do with food?

I recently stumbled into the Essex House and Tavern in Brighton, Vermont (Island Pond).

I had been to the tavern before, a few years ago when it resembled a pizza place with a bar. You know the look, old booths, rough tables, miss-matched chairs. But I remembered enjoying the food so I thought we’d try it out again.

So this time when I walked in, I was blown away. A complete remodel had been done, and the place is beautiful: wood flooring throughout, exposed beams, lots of light, metal accents, and décor that reminds you of Brighton’s railroad days.

A look at the menu told me that more changes had been made in the kitchen.

The menu is simple – a few classic items with some special twists and daily specials to round out the selections.

I was taking my son to the nearby dentist, so I wasn’t sampling drinks this time. But, we chose a few things from the menu to get an idea of the food. I ordered the poutine, and the stuffed mushroom caps. My son got an order of teriyaki wings.

It was lunch time on a weekday, so when we arrived the place was mostly empty, but service was prompt. And our food was out fast.

I was amazed at the quality. Often in out of the way towns, restaurants stick to a lot of premade, frozen selections. Nothing we ordered tasted premade.

The wings were tossed in a house made teriyaki that smelled wonderful, tasted great, and was thick enough to  be a bit sticky on the wings (that is how I prefer it). I must say, I got to take a bite – but a plate of wings is no match for a teenager’s appetite.

The stuffed mushrooms were delicious. The sausage was well seasoned, and they were covered with bubbling cheese. It is a tricky thing to get the stuffing to mushroom ratio correct – as often you taste only sausage or get a mouthful of mushroom. Not so with these. And the cheese helped keep the sausage from spilling out while you were eating. These caps were also large enough to have to cut into a few bites, making them a hearty appetizer to share.

And the poutine….

Let’s face it, when you are in northern Vermont, and close to the Canadian border, you are looking for good poutine.

And I wasn’t disappointed. Their poutine had plenty of thick gravy, was well sprinkled with curd cheese, and best of all, fresh cut French fries!
I would say that I wish there was a little more gravy though – but it was delicious.

As we enjoyed our lunch, people started filling up the place. The bar area filled up, and a few of the other tables. Not a bad crowd for a Tuesday afternoon.

The menu is small and simple, featuring burgers and a few sandwiches, soups, 2 pasta dishes, a few items for kids, and a number of appetizers (including a few you can’t find anywhere else). For dinner there are 3 additional choices – steak, chicken teriyaki, and maple mustard pork.

I would love to go back and try a few dinner options and cocktails.

The Essex House and Tavern is located in the old Essex House hotel – and still serves as such. It is positioned just as you enter Brighton village from Rt. 105 (Charelston Rd./Derby Street),so you can’t miss it.