Learning to ski or snowboard at an early age is the perfect way to help young children instill a love for winter. Exploring the slopes helps kids build self-confidence, meet new friends and develop a lifelong affinity for the outdoors.
On a recent ski weekend getaway at Bolton Valley Resort, we decided to take the kids to the famous Trapp Family Lodge in nearby Stowe for dinner. Yes, a bit of the Julie Andrews fan in me yearned to throw my arms out and sing, but I really wanted to delight in the Austrian inspired menu, locally sourced Vermont products, and microbrews made right on the property. I was a little nervous looking at the more high-end menu and picturing my kids, ages three and six, sitting through the dinner. My kids are very used to dining at restaurants but it usually involves establishments where your flatware is wrapped in a paper napkin and a balloon guy lurks behind a piece of non-authentic memorabilia. No, this was different because this was the first time we took the kids to a fine dining restaurant, outside of family events.
Walking into the Lodge you’re immediately struck by it’s elegant but comfortable atmosphere. From the Trapp family’s history on the walls down to the library where families, with kids of all ages, were playing games and laughing in such a relaxed communal setting. As we made our way to the main restaurant we passed a pianist playing a baby grand piano in a lounge where kids were listening alongside their parents. The maître-de warmly greeted us and asked how many sets of crayons we would like.
Break! For me, crayons at restaurants bring images of the balloon guy mentioned above and sticky booths. How could a restaurant where the average price for an entrée hovers around $30 also cater to kids? We were in for a treat because this is what dining at the Trapp Family Lodge is all about. The Trapp Family Lodge is a rare gem where you won’t find a dumbed-down menu for kids, just because they’re kids. Too many restaurants offer kids bland, unhealthy entrees because the expectation of kids eating habits is so low many just assume kids won’t eat anything else. The children’s menu at the Trapp Family Lodge did have the kid fan favorites of macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers, but also offered grilled chicken and salmon. But my favorite part of the menu was the appetizers offered on the children’s menu! It was so civilized, and allowed parents to offer their kids a healthy starter of vegetable sticks and dip or fresh fruit salad for example, while they dined on their own first course. Kid’s palettes were treated with a bit more respect and higher standards than at most family restaurants.
Let’s not forget who really does the most eating; moms and dads, and the unique menu will make you salivate while reading through it. I ordered the cook’s special which started with an array of interesting seafood samples including salmon tar tar, tuna bacon with capers (my personal favorite), and a delicious seafood filled homemade sausage. I shared this with my husband’s lamb belly over winter greens which literally melted in your mouth. The entrees were equally as delicious, especially dipping into my spouse’s veal and sauerbraten, a house specialty.
I don’t want to overlook the incredibly impressive wine list that was about an inch thick. We really came for the beer and wanted to try the famous lagers, which, like everything else from our experience, did not disappoint. The Trapp Family Lodge started making their own microbrews in 2010 at a small brewery on the grounds of the resort. Desserts were equally scrumptious and my flour-less chocolate cake was so incredibly rich that I selfishly didn’t want to share it with my kids when they asked!
Dining at the Trapp Family Lodge is not cheap, but for us it ended up being a surprisingly teachable moment. My six year old daughter quickly picked up on the fact that we were at a more upscale restaurant and wanted to know why she had so much silverware, and so began our lesson from left to right going over why she had two forks, etc. We also practiced a little German, direct from one of the activities on the children’s menu. The crowd was a mix of families, couples, and adults. And although children were a healthy part of the mix, I was a little embarrassed when my three year old started belting out songs from Frozen. For the most part, people would just look and smile.
We need more restaurants like the one we found at the Trapp Family Lodge that introduce a level of sophistication in family dining that is rarely seen. Fine dining for families can exist and is actually very enjoyable, if not only delicious. You will spend more but you’ll be raising the bar on what you should expect from your kids at a restaurant while showing them to expect more from dining out. Next time you’re in the Stowe area, make sure you visit and more importantly, dine, at the Trapp Family Lodge.