The Hatchery — Ludlow, Vermont

How many breakfast joints serve real Vermont maple syrup with their pancakes and French Toast — and tell you not to use your cellular phone? Well, we found one, and it was great. So great, in fact, that we had breakfast (late) or lunch (early) for four straight days. Why only four days? Well, we had to leave snowy Vermont and return to sunny New Jersey, so we missed out on another perfect, simple meal. The Hatchery is as close to the paradigm of the cafĂ© as anything I have seen. They do everything well. The tables are clean and far enough from your neighbors that you don’t have to hear about their bunions if you don’t feel like it. The coffee is good and hot, and the friendly, professional waitresses keep it coming, but not obnoxiously. And the food. Oh, the food!

Take a look at their menu . . . at first glance, it seems too large by half. But that is its greatest advantage — the various interesting combinations of just a few fresh ingredients make breakfast a treat. I’m not going to bore you with a long list of what’s good, because everything we ate was excellent– cooked correctly, made from fresh ingredients, plated nicely, and served promptly. Breakfast and lunch don’t get much better than this. So if you are anywhere near Ludlow, Vermont, eat here! Hell, The Hatchery is worth a bit of a drive, and Vermont is small, so if you are in Vermont, eat at The Hatchery. In fact, if you are in New England, eat at The Hatchery.

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