Five Star Farm to Table
A fresh twist on fine dining.
On a quiet side street in Manchester Village, just footsteps from Equinox Mountain, you’ll find the region’s only Small Luxury Hotel and Zagat-rated restaurant. With twenty rooms in its main house and adjoining historic buildings, The Reluctant Panther is a favorite for repeat visitors and locals alike. The dining room is elegant but easy going and the atmosphere is classy but not pretentious. In the summer, they offer Manchester’s only patio raw bar. In winter, they book private parties in their cozy downstairs pub. While that all sounds fancy enough, the place is warm and welcoming with a menu that celebrates their Vermont fresh roots.
The management is gracious and down to earth, and the Executive Chef, Sigal Rocklin, is so darn charming you’ll want to throw your arms around her as soon as you meet. Rocklin grew up in Israel, trained and served in the army with honors, then headed stateside in pursuit of her mother’s American roots. Her path led to Vermont, where she enrolled at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier.
After graduating, she and her (now) husband traveled extensively, exploring communities and restaurants from Colorado to California. Then, they decided the Green Mountains were home.
While the restaurant can claim a lengthy list of accolades, there’s one designation that means a lot to us locals. The Gold Barn Honor, bestowed by the Vermont Fresh Network, is a distinction that makes a difference in the community, and on the plate. Gold Barn Honorees not only know their farmers and serve products from Vermont, they represent the top 25% of VFN’s membership. Criteria include “the number of farmers they partner with, the diversity of Vermont ingredients that they use, and the volume of Vermont products they purchase.
An avid gardener herself, Rocklin is a fan of the Vermont fresh ethic. Because she shops our farm stands and local markets for ingredients, she gets to know the growers and makers firsthand. We love that. Because farmers and foragers are welcome in the Reluctant Panther kitchen, their talents are evident on her menu. You’ll love that, too.
Take the salad above… Heirloom beets from nearby Laughing Child Farm, with a bit of pickled fennel, and a slice of house-made baguette topped with handcrafted burrata from nearby Maple Brook Farm. These are bright, clean flavors, elegantly presented. The cheese? It’s to die for.
In a town of many remarkable restaurants, the Panther offers a unique experience. The dining room is elegant but relaxed while the food is “five-star” farm-to-table. It’s a place to celebrate something special, a place to gather with friends, and now, with a brilliant new chef, a place to fix permanently into your local rotation. In the off-season, they offer an excellent midweek Prix-Fixe, three courses for $45. Throughout the year, holiday events are an excuse to splurge and tasting dinners are a ticket to adventure.
If You Go...
Call ahead for reservations or book via Open Table. Do share any dietary restrictions of preferences, although there are excellent vegetarian choices among the regular menu items. If you’re feeling adventurous, ask for wine and cocktail pairings with your meal. The RP staff knocks it out of the part in this department as well. Cheers!Reluctant Panther Restaurant
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