Great ski areas usually have a huge number of places to eat and drink and the Killington dining options are no exception. Establishments available to visitors include many inns, bars, restaurants and cafes, all dotted along the main access road up the main mountain. The town of Killington VT has a long-adopted policy of not allowing in national dining chains and of actively promoting local vendors, which has worked very well for Killington’s brand and image of doing things differently from other ski mountains, that would often welcome in McDonald’s for a quick financial gain. There are some great highlights (and some rather sad low lights) in the vast array of drinking and dining choices that can often bewilder even the most seasoned visitor.
The Killington dining choices for eating steak are pretty poor when compared to the more urban climes of Boston, NYC, Montreal or even Albany. It could be the lack of availability of good red meat or just a trend to do poor quality steaks in the state of Vermont that could be part of the problem. This makes it almost impossible to find a great steak in Vermont, and by that we mean a steak that is better than just a 6 out of 10.
Hardly the best steak in the world, but the steak at The Foundry was tender and juicy and was prepared well. The sides were well chosen and the setting was pleasant. This skirt steak scored at 6/10 when compared to a NYC or Boston steak of the same cut. From all the Killington dining options, there is not have a good steak house available, so you may have to go without, rather than be disappointed. The Santa Fe Steakhouse gets an honorable mention, but with only a score of 5/10 on their New York Strip, its hardly a resounding approval.
The steak served in The Wobbly Barn Steakhouse is both expensive and awful at the same time. The culprit appears to be the quality of the meat, which is poor and often thickly lined with fat and gristle. I imagine the chef does his best to make the best out of this bad ration, but this is more like a sows ear than a silk purse. They try to make up for it with a great buffet, but customers still cannot disguise their disgust for the quality of the Wobbly steak. Best go for the chicken here, its hardly ever raw. The lobster should also be avoided as the roads from Maine are long and winding.
Best Chili: Panera Bread in Rutland, VT
It is a sad day when not one single Killington dining establishment can match the quality and consistency of the chili that a national brand, located just 30 minutes away in Rutland VT, can provide. Some decent attempts were made by Charity’s and Choices, but still came up lacking due to the less-than-stellar ingredients and preparation and they cannot be recommended. The chili at Panera in Rutland is both wholesome and consistently tasty and puts Killington to shame. An honorable mention goes out to the Pittsfield General Store that also does an excellent chili, that is well balanced with meat, vegetables and beans, but this is still a ten minute drive from the Killington access road, so its quite shocking that all the restaurants in Killington have lost the recipe for a good chili.
Worst Chili: All Killington On-Mountain Lodges
The chili available at the Killington dining areas in the ski lodges is often an inedible melange of hot brown water and foot-crushed red kidney beans, with some hot spots of sour peppers that the chef may have inadvertently dropped in while he was trying to scare the rats away. The piping-cold chili at the on-mountain lodges is best to be avoided at all costs. The lodges are really only for guests that are forced to use them because of their family commitments, as most regular skiers will avoid them like the plague. Although bringing your own packed lunch sounds a whole lot better, and safer, but Killington not long ago attempted to ban the packed lunch to increase food profits, so this may not last long.
Best Hidden Gem 1: The Highline Lodge, Killington
The Highline Lodge has a gorgeous bar, NYC style gastronomic restaurant and welcoming staff. Its forever quiet, but never boring. With its soft couches and comfortable chairs set in contemporary ski house feel, its hidden away on the access road and only those in-the-know can really find it.
Best Hidden Gem 2 : Summit Lodge, Killington
An honorable mention should go out to The Summit Lodge that is tucked away behind the Foundry and is often the haunt of local skiers during those dreaded holiday weekend, where lines for tables at the Foundry can be over 2 hours long. The food and service at The Summit Lodge is good and although the place is old, it is a great food and drink destination when the rest of the mountain is packed with out-of-towners.
Best Lunch Place: The Yurt
Only open during the day and only accessible by skiers and snowboarders, The Yurt provides an amazing array of wonderfully prepared food in a unique setting that epitomizes the very essence of what quality dining can be like in Killington, which is often better know for rowdy beer guzzlers and angry New York skiers than fine lunch dining.
Worst Lunch Place: The Killington Peak Lodge
The Killington Peak Lodge, designed by Robert Williams, is probably the worst experience anyone can have trying to get lunch on any ski day. Part of the problem is that Killington ran out of money for the second floor of seating so 1500 people are crammed into one floor of madness designed for just 300 people. The Killington dining area can often see physical fights for tables during the dreaded holiday weekends when the riff-raff from the big cities descend onto this ski resort and all the locals get out before the trouble starts. Even if you do score a table, or even a chair at the bar, you are rewarded to overpriced, poor quality fare that tends to underwhelm at best, or make you gag at worst. Make sure you arrive with a gold card and a bucket.
Happy hour in Vermont means a very different thing than when compared to other states. In Vermont, alcohol cannot be discounted for a certain period of the day and must retain a standard pricing regardless of supply or demand. This means no deals or special pricing on booze, but they make up for it with live music and discounted food instead, including free wings and half price appetizers. After the ski lifts close, most establishments will do some deal with food, but the trick is to avoid the crowds, which is hard to do on a holiday weekend.
Best Happy Hour:
The Garlic has the best happy hour offers with 50% off the tapas menu, but watch out for the scam where only the lowest priced items are discounted, especially when it comes to the higher priced items like the lamb chops, where they will rip you off. The Lookout bar also has good food deals for happy hour and honorable mentions also go to Sushi Yoshi for their free wings before 6PM, but that tiny bar is packed at 3pm and is not much fun if you arrive after that. Their craft beer selection is the best on the mountain but you wouldn’t know if you cannot get in there.
Worst Happy Hour:
Happy hour at any of the Killington ski lodges including the main bar at KBL and Mahogany Ridge at Snowshed is a disaster that only a clueless tourist would go for. The food is both terrible and overpriced, the drinks taste like they are watered down and the place is full of tourists who don’t know any better. This all changes though if a good band like Joey Leone or Rick Reddington is playing, as they more than make up for the dire dining environment – tourists don’t even know how lucky they are to see these acts, despite the terrible food and drinks
Best Romantic Restaurant: Birch Ridge Inn
Located just a few feet from the Killington access road and across a quaint covered wooden bridge, The Birch Ridge Inn is an excellent choice for a high end, romantic dining experience. Its prices are high, but the food, decor and service are excellent and any budding Valentino would be well served by this choice if he is hoping to get lucky. if only for one night.
Worst Romantic Restaurant: Prestons at the Killington Grand Hotel
Although newly updated and a great improvement on the former eatery at the same location, Prestons misses the mark by delivering poor quality food and terrible service to the tourist crowd in a timeshare building that pretends to be a hotel. Potentially Prestons could be a great romantic dinner spot given its high-end contemporary decor and eclectic menu, but suffers terribly from the realization that they don’t really have to work that hard for any business, as many people do not want to leave the hotel and will gladly suffer through the wholly undesirable experience of eating there. By the way ladies, any schmuck that books Valentines dinner there, deserves to be dumped. You can do a lot better, both in terms of the restaurant and your date. There are other Killington dining experiences that fare far better than here.
Best and Worst Service in Killington Dining:
All Killington Establishments on Any Given Day
Vermont businesses have a systemic problem with getting good staff to stay. People who live in Vermont don’t really want to work, so getting good, attentive prep and wait staff is reliably impossible, thus making the Killington dining experience not as good as it can be. An establishment that has great service one week, could be awful the following week if the staff refuse to work because they want to ski or quit because they make too much money that will affect their government assistance program. It is often a hit and miss affair with service in Killington and no vendor is immune to the resorts woes with its seasonal staff turnover. One restaurant, Sushi Yoshi may have partly solved the problem by having a summer dining location at Lake George, NY – where all the staff can move during the off season. Instead of leaving for remote destinations at the end of the season, that may not see them return the following winter season, staff can rotate between the two locations. At other Killington dining locations, expect to see service vary from day to day and between establishments. Don’t count on seeing NYC or Boston style service, this mountain is full of working ski-bums who really don’t want to be waiting on you and are dreaming of nailing a double back flip iron cross with a grab, not trying to remember to bring you a clean fork.