A Trip for Art Lovers to Plymouth, NH
A fall trip to Plymouth
Contemporary art and pottery at the Gallery at Red Gate Farm Antiques
Photo by stillman rogers
We stopped for dinner at Six Burner Bistro, where a cheery wood fire welcomed us. We began by splitting an appetizer of warm goat cheese and roasted garlic with roasted red peppers, black olives and toasted French bread. For entrées we ordered Portobello mushroom with grilled vegetables, wilted spinach and fresh mozzarella in balsamic reduction and pan-seared sea scallops served over spinach and fontina raviolis with pesto cream sauce. Chef Rob Kelley’s menu is based on products from local farms.
Our room, called “The Lodge,” at The Common Man Inn gave the illusion of an early-20th-century lakeside cabin interior — even to the point of entering through an old-fashioned screen door from the room’s vestibule. A king-sized peeled-log bed, a fireplace, even a corrugated tin ceiling and pine-board walls completed the illusion and all the mod-cons were discreetly hidden: large flat-screen TV behind a shuttered “window” and the whirlpool tub in a modern bathroom off the entryway. We enjoyed our buffet breakfast in the guest lounge area, then toured the hotel, which fills several connected buildings of an old wood factory (they made Hoodsie spoons, remember those?). Nearly 100 enlarged old photos on the walls tell the story of the mill (90 percent of which was retained in the renovations) and Plymouth, photos described by number in an album. Scattered among them are displays of old lumbering tools and other relics of the mill and local life.
Although the weather didn’t encourage venturing out, we drove into town, parking in front of Artistic Roots, a cooperative art gallery. Here we found colorful necklaces by Heather Baldwin that combined felted and glass beads, along with appealing designs in felt and recycled knits by Donna Castor. Several of the 30-plus artists work in wood: characterful animal carvings by the McAlister family, Shaker-style boxes by Barbara Beeler, furniture by Eric Johnson and beautiful wood-turnings by Richard Batchelder and Ken Mosedale. We did some serious Christmas shopping.
The Museum of the White Mountains
Photo by stillman rogers
On the next corner, we slid into a wooden booth at Lucky Dog Tavern & Grill. We’d heard about their in-house hickory smoked pork, so we ordered a pulled pork panini with cheddar and a warming bowl of delicious chili topped with cheese. The chef is not stingy with the jalapenos.
At the Museum of the White Mountains we were delighted by the current exhibit, Passing Through: The Allure of the White Mountains, there through mid-February 2014. The well-curated collection of art and artifacts explore early travels to the White Mountains through the eyes of artists, writers and tourists, though quotes, early engravings, stereograph cards, guidebooks, hotel broadsides and menus. But most impressive are the paintings by the White Mountain artists on loan from private collectors. All the great names are there: Benjamin Champney, Frank Shapleigh, Thomas Cole and several others, adding up to more than a dozen paintings from collections that are not commonly exhibited. Don’t miss it.
We continued up Highland Street to Red Gate Farm Antiques, a barn filled with furniture, vintage linens, china, glassware and kitchen utensils from past centuries. We learned that the shop and the adjacent garden center will hold a Christmas open house with greens, wreaths and holiday floral arrangements in antique containers, on Thanksgiving weekend.
On the way back, we stopped to read the historical marker on the Draper and Maynard Building, and noticed that it now houses the Karl Drerup Gallery, exhibiting art by Plymouth State University faculty and students. After seeing the current exhibit, we strayed to showcases in the hallway, a tiny museum showing the products of D&M, which manufactured sporting equipment — golf clubs, baseball bats, bowling pins and most famously, baseballs and gloves used by all the old-time greats, including Babe Ruth, who visited in 1916.
The Common Man Inn & Spa
Photo by stillman rogers
Dinner at Foster’s Boiler Room
The restaurant is literally in the old boiler room, with brick walls and cast iron furnace doors as décor. The specialty is beef, so we ordered one of the house favorites, Steak Oscar, and the evening’s special, tornedos of beef with Bearnaise sauce, paired with crabmeat raviolis. The beef was cooked just as requested and came with a fresh vegetable medley and red potatoes smashed with garlic.
A classic movie was playing at The Flying Monkey Movie House, a restored 1920s theater downtown, so we skipped dessert. After the show we returned to the lounge at Foster’s, where Barista Emma suggested the house specialty, a snowball of their own ice cream with candied hazelnuts and whipped cream over a bed of chocolate sauce. After that and an espresso martini, we were ready to retire to The Lodge.
After a late breakfast we headed for The Common Man Spa, and spent a morning being pampered in a serene atmosphere where time didn’t seem to matter at all.
After lunch of made-to-order Boar’s Head sandwiches at Biederman’s Deli, we headed down Route 3 into Ashland, where we stopped at The Company Store in the center of town. It’s hard to spend any time in Plymouth without hearing about their fudge, so we sampled a few before deciding on a pound of mixed flavors: dark chocolate caramel with sea salt, chocolate orange, peanut butter swirl and penuche. We finished with a bit more holiday gift shopping before heading home.