New in Fitzwilliam
A welcoming aroma of bubbling hot cheese and seasonal herbs greeted us as we entered the cozy old tavern room at the recently reopened Fitzwilliam Inn. My husband and I chose a table near the room’s centerpiece — a gigantic brick fireplace that has warmed travelers for 200 years. The restaurant, christened The Thistle and the Crown, and inn were recently purchased by Scott Nickerson and Leesa Crocker. Crocker’s daughter, Rachelle, has come from NYC to be the chef.
Rachelle’s plan is to keep it simple and local. The evening’s dining choices were only four pub-style entrées; bangers and mash, roast chicken, cheese vegetable au gratin and pan-seared rump steak.
I ordered and quickly received a gigantic cup of potato leek soup ($6) accompanied by a thick wedge of homemade country bread with a touch of rye. It was a deceptively light soup, with an airy broth, but it was rich and hearty once you found the sunken treasure of hearty potato slices and thin swatches of leek.
I tasted my husband’s roasted chicken quarter ($10.95) that had him reminiscing of his mother’s prized recipe. It was tender with crispy skin and the pan juices flirted with the chopped quince and apple. My cheese au gratin dinner ($8.95) had a bubbly brown crust that topped perfectly aligned, and consistently hand-sliced, potato layers nestled with parsnips, turnips and kohlrabi — all melded with farmers cheese, Irish cheddar and Parmesan. Both dinners had a refreshing side salad of julienned arugula and celery root with a hint of tangy dressing.
Though I was too full to thoroughly appreciate a dessert, I nibbled on the dense orange almond cake textured with ground almond and bits of roasted orange and drizzled with heavy cream.
The Fitzwilliam Inn’s restaurant serves hearty and seasonally available food for an honest price. Most food is sourced locally, including meats from E.I.E.I.O. Farm run by Rachelle’s mother, Leesa.
The Thistle and the Crown at the The Fitzwilliam Inn, On the Common