Fall menus are built from comfort.
Apples, gourds, and other autumn harvests are annually intertwined into the menus at New England’s top dining establishments, creating both adventurous dishes, as well as those you’ve grown accustomed to enjoying by the time the calendar shifts and the cool winds start to blow.
Here are six of our favorite restaurants — one from each state in New England — where you can find food and atmosphere enhanced by the season.
The Shipwright’s Daughter, Mystic, Conn. — Executive chef David Standridge celebrates New England food heritage at this downtown gem, recently named one of the 50 best restaurants in the United States by Wine Enthusiast Magazine. The Shipwright’s Daughter’s menu changes daily, reflecting the unique character of coastal Connecticut. Come fall, that will mean an eclectic harvest menu. Among some of the mainstays are roasted oysters, steak tartare toast, and a selection of pastas. Happy hour (Mon.-Fri., 4-6 p.m., 3-5 p.m. weekends) means half-priced oysters. — 20 East Main St., shipwrightsdaughter.com
Nibblesford Cheese Shop, Biddeford, Maine — This isn’t your typical cheese shop. Nibblesford aims to bring customers the best cheese, beer, and wine from the state of Maine and New England. Just don’t expect your regular cheddars and bries. The shop supports small and independent producers who make tasty food, delicious beer, and all things, well, nibbly. Recent selections of cheese included Polar Vortex (a crumbly blue cheese from Whitefield, Maine), Evangeline (a mild, mushroom-like taste), and Rockweed, a creamy, briny cheese that was the 2022 Gold Medal winner at the World Champion Cheese Contest. Don’t miss the rotating cheeses of the month. — 5 Washington St., Biddeford, Maine, nibblesford.com
Moxy, Portsmouth, N.H. — This downtown farm-to-table establishment truly shines in the fall. A recent finalist for the James Beard Award, Moxy serves tapas with New England flair. There are haddock, beets, and short ribs on the menu, all created with a nod to the local ingredients and the people who provided them. Save room, of course, for the famous whoopie pie sliders. — 106 Penhallow St., Portsmouth, N.H., moxyrestaurant.com
Hen of the Wood, Waterbury and Burlington, Vt. — Hen of the Wood, as Boston Magazine once noted, “is as much about nurture as it is nature.” Frequently lauded as one of the best restaurants in the entire state, Hen of the Wood aims at creating an authentic community, one where the regional food is crafted and prepared with simple, yet elegant, techniques. Monkfish is served with a basil salsa verde, the duck breast with crushed carrots and blueberries. You’ll know which farms your food comes from, one of the special factors included within this decidedly Vermont experience. — 92 Stowe St., Waterbury, Vt., and 55 Cherry St., Burlington, Vt., — henofthewood.com
Farmhouse Kitchen + Bar, Westerly, R.I. — Another farm-to-fork experience, Westerly’s Farmhouse Kitchen + Bar serves the freshest ingredients from local farms and Block Island Sound. Honey lavender salmon and parmesan gnocchi are two regulars on the menu created by executive chef Albert Cannito. Check for weekly specials like burger and beer night (Sundays, 4-9 p.m.) and a daily “appy” hour menu featuring truffle frites and crispy cauliflower. — 10 Wagner Road, Westerly, R.I., farmhousekitchenri.com
Meadowbrook Orchards, Sterling, Mass. — Five generations of Chandler family have worked at the farm since its inception. Visitors will find four varieties of apples (cortland, macintosh, macoun, and empire) to pick on their own through October, just as they might at several other orchards within the vicinity. But the bakery, restaurant, and farm store at Meadowbrook are the true stand-outs, utilizing the fresh produce on the farm to create a wonderful medley of baked goods, fresh sandwiches, and barbecue offerings. Just as attractive as the items are on the menu, wait until you see the prices. — 209 Chace Hill Road, Sterling, Mass., meadowbrookorchards.com