Firelight is a time machine. Gaze into the swirling flames, feel the natural warmth radiating, hear the crackle of the wood releasing its energy, and you’re teleported to an age when fire—like food and drink—was a basic necessity. We’re comforted by the way a fireplace transforms a powerful force into a soul-soothing escape from the […]
Firelight is a time machine. Gaze into the swirling flames, feel the natural warmth radiating, hear the crackle of the wood releasing its energy, and you’re teleported to an age when fire—like food and drink—was a basic necessity. We’re comforted by the way a fireplace transforms a powerful force into a soul-soothing escape from the frosty outdoors. New England’s best places to dine fireside combine inspired cuisine with the romance of a warm hearth, and each one has a story to tell.
It’s an irreverent twist to find an alluring blaze inside an old Massachusetts firehouse. The decision to bathe exposed brick walls in a wood fire’s golden shimmer reflects the warmth and playfulness of chef/owner Jason Bond, whose nurturing approach has made foodies swoon since the original Bondir débuted in Cambridge. Local farmers’ root cellars keep hardy local vegetables appearing in complex, colorful dishes—even in the dead of winter. From the first cold snap, the fireplace is a magnet. Bond, who observes from his open kitchen, says, “It brings people together and welcomes them in, warms them inside and out.” Concord, Massachusetts. 978-610-6554; bondirconcord.comNote: Bondir Concord closed in June 2017.
Kennebec River Pub & Brewery
Built with stones pummeled smooth by Maine’s Kennebec River, the floor-to-ceiling fireplace in The Forks Resort’s main lodge is such a focal point that Northern Outdoors president Russell Walters is never surprised when guests wander away from the restaurant to “sit there and eat nachos.” The Forks is America’s only adventure resort with an on-site brewery, and fireside couches are the hottest spot to sit and sip fresh seasonal beers. Chef Seth Gavitt’s menu pairs every dish with a brew. The Forks, Maine. 207-663-4466; northernoutdoors.com/site/resort/the-forks-resort-restaurant.htmlSharpe Hill Vineyard Fireside Tavern
When you behold this 18th-century barn loft—whitewashed and vaulted-ceilinged—you’ll instantly understand why the tables encircling two gas-lit fireplaces on either side of an impressive central chimney are booked weeks in advance. For a quarter-century, executive chef Catherine Vollweiler and her husband, Steven, have devoted remarkable care to this historic farm. After sampling Connecticut’s most-awarded wines, ascend the stairs and pair your favorites with specialties cooked in a wood-burning Aztec. Maine lobster undergoes a many-step process from the moment it arrives packed in seaweed until it’s served as butter-poached, butter-basted art on a plate. “I’ve taken this so seriously; I adore my vineyard,” Catherine says. That passion has fashioned an unforgettable destination. Pomfret, Connecticut. 860-974-3549; sharpehill.comTrattoria Delia
Tucked into the basement of a 1911 brick high-rise that was once Burlington’s landmark hotel, Vermont’s preeminent Italian restaurant is also home to an extraordinary fireplace, built of native Panton stone and surrounded by woodwork reclaimed from a New Hampshire sugarhouse. New England seems far away, though, as plates of antipasti, some 100 Italian wines, and hearty dishes like wild-boar ragù atop homemade gnocchi transport guests to the northern Italian mountains that chef Thomas and Lori Delia adore. The fare is authentic, simple, and creatively composed. Burlington, Vermont. 802-864-5253; trattoriadelia.comWhite Horse Tavern
“We burn about a cord of wood a week,” notes Rich Silvia, the rare executive chef who wants you to step inside and be awed even if you don’t dine. But with casual lunches, elegant dinners, cozy Sunday brunches, even burgers-and-beer nights on winter Wednesdays, you’ll want to soak up the well-preserved colonial aura of this Rhode Island institution: America’s oldest tavern, where four still-working fireplaces have warmed wanderers since 1673. “An incredible amount of intention” goes into everything Silvia serves, he explains, from seafood direct from the docks to house-made charcuterie. And it’s all more affordable—locals know—in the winter off-season. “That’s when we enjoy the beauty of where we live,” Silvia says. Newport, Rhode Island. 401-849-3600; whitehorsenewport.com