Beyond Boston: The Essex Resort

The Essex Resort invited me to partner with them and experience their unique culinary hotel and restaurant in Essex Way, VT. All opinions are my own.

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Not wanting to lose our status as card carrying New Englanders, Ross and I completed the annual right of passage of taking a quiet weekend getaway up to Vermont to see the leaves in full color. Our final destination was The Essex Resort, a culinary resort and spa located in Essex Way, Vermont. The Essex is about a three and a half hour drive from Boston— the perfect distance for what feels like a true getaway. Though our drive took a bit longer due to some snow storms we were not expecting (and not ready for, tbh! Where did summer go?!), it was a beautiful and fun little road trip. 

If you’re looking for a unique and food-centric getaway— after spending the weekend there I can’t recommend the Essex Resort enough. I’d heard about it from a few friends who had gone to stay for a weekend, and also realized a few years ago I had gotten my parents a package to stay for their anniversary (they loved it too!).

The Essex has a range of options available for your stay, from cozy rooms to suites that include kitchens. We stayed in one of the culinary themed rooms, which had a king bed, comfy couch, and a fireplace for maximum coziness.

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The Tavern

After settling in, we had a while before our dinner reservation so we decided to have a small snack and drink to kick off our weekend at The Tavern located just downstairs. The Tavern is the more casual of the two restaurants located at the Essex, and offers traditional pub fair that focuses on local ingredients. If you’re a beer lover— make sure you stop in to check out their extensive beer list, which features a wide range of local brews. To eat, we tried the award winning corn and clam chowder and it was absolutely perfect. I would highly recommend grabbing a cup as soon as you check in!

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The Junction

After relaxing in our room for a bit, we headed down to The Junction (have I mentioned how convenient everything at the Essex is??) for dinner. Junction is a AAA Four Diamond and Wine Spectator Award certified restaurant— but don’t worry, it is still casual enough that you can wear jeans. I’d highly recommend getting reservations, as Junction seemed to fill up quite quickly with other guests and people coming just for the restaurant.

An open kitchen was the focal point of the main dining room, but make sure you take the time to look around! The decor was so unique— don’t miss the place settings on the ceiling! We were seated in one of the private rooms, where the light fixtures were made out of cutlery. The atmosphere was cozy and comfortable.

You are waiting on by one of the chefs, which is a really special experience as they have invaluable tips and insight. The menu is seasonal and changes quite frequently, and has a welcomed emphasis on local ingredients.

The cocktail menu was incredibly unique— I started with a Butternut Side Car (Roasted Essex garden Butternut Squash Infused Brandy, Cointreau, Lemon Juice, Vermont Maple Syrup). It was seriously SO good. For appetizers, we opted for a cheese plate that included local cheeses and cured meats, and the winter squash fritters. Both were amazing— I think I found my absolute new favorite cheese, too: Jasper Hill Farms Bayley Hazen Bleu.

For our main courses, I ordered the Heritage Farm Pork Chop, which came with caramelized sweet potato puree, apple cranberry chutney, and a cider Demi glace. It. Was. AMAZING. I rarely finish plates, but this one I had almost every single bite. Ross ordered the Filet Mignon, which came perfectly cooked with crispy fingerling potatoes, baby carrots, and bearnaise sauce. Everything was delicious and we both ate almost every single bite.

Don’t worry— there was still room for dessert! We tried a pumpkin cheesecake special of sports— I honestly don’t remember exactly what was in it but I can tell you it was absolutely amazing.

Now in a fully induced food coma, we returned to our room, changed into the comfy hotel robes, and enjoyed the fireplace— a perfectly relaxing evening.

Cook Academy

The highlight of our stay was without a doubt our private Sunday Brunch making class. We lucked out that the other couple signed up for a class decided to sleep in, and we ended up with a private class. We started with mimosas with fresh squeezed OJ, and got right to business making one of my favorite brunches to date. The first thing we made were popovers, which have always intimidated me, but I feel like after this class I have a good handle on how to make them. Since we were in Vermont, of course, we made maple butter to go with them. Other items on our menu included crab cake eggs Benedict, rosemary crème brûlée French toast, and a caramelized onion, bacon, and Vermont Cheddar tart.

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The class was hands on, fun, and led by an awesome instructor. He was extremely knowledgeable, and made the experience for us. We left very full and with PLENTY of leftovers that almost lasted the whole way home.

Other things to do

The Essex is located very close to Burlington and other surrounding attractions, so there’s not a chance you’ll run out of things to do. Within 20 minutes there is the famous Ben and Jerry’s Factory, a Cabot’s Cheese Factory Store, and much much more.

I think just about anyone could find something to love at the Essex, and I know we’ll be back ASAP. Check their website, as they frequently offer packaged stays, and I’ve also seen specials listed on Groupon as well. Though we didn’t get to experience it, the Spa is supposed to be incredible as well. Let me know if you go and what you think!

I made a little video about our whole experience— you can watch it here:

Have you been to the Essex? I would love to hear about your experience!