The log benches in Eaton's Sugarhouse may not be comfortable, but the food is certainly comforting. Vermont is best known for rustic cuisine, and Eaton's lives up to the expectation with down-to-earth dishes: sticky buns bound together with pure maple syrup canned on site and huge, delicious pancakes in imperfectly pleasing shapes made to order for the sturdy, flannel-clad farmers who line the counter.
Lunch options such as country-fried steak or Vermont baked beans are equally hearty.
Eaton's is an unpretentious oasis for travelers who find themselves in rural South Royalton. Try to pin your hometown on the world map on the restaurant's wall and you'll struggle to find a free spot. Visitors from Boston to Beirut have landed in this part of the Vermont woods.
Connie Poulin, who has owned the restaurant with her son, Justin, since 2004, says the humble restaurant's worldly travelers are her favorite aspect of managing the place. "Especially on holidays or during foliage season, a lot of people plan their trips so they can catch us, and everybody's in a good mood because they're on vacation," Poulin says.
Eatons has reinvented itself a few times since it opened in the 1800s. What began as a cider house became a maple sugaring operation. As many happy diners can attest, it then found its true calling as a restaurant and country store.
After your meal, you can easily spend hours in Eatons gift shop, bursting with specialty items such as moose pajamas, regional books and wooden toys. But if you really want to take home a taste of Vermont, grab a jug of maple syrup from the shelf.
Order Eatons Sugarhouse Maple Syrup at eatonssugarhouse.com
—Story by Elizabeth Kelsey, a food writer in Lebanon, N.H. Recipes courtesy of Eatons Sugarhouse.
Check out our story on maple syrup grades.