Updated Menus Still Pack People In At 2 Litchfield Cty Eateries
By CB Wismar
Longtime diners of The Falls Village Inn and The Woodland already know about the revamped menus at these places, and the new culinary fare is still bringing them back time and time again. Newcomers, we’re quite sure, are just as welcome.
The Falls Village Inn, Falls Village
The Falls Village Inn occupies an historic building — originally built 175 years ago as a railroad hotel — set in an historic town. When the iron industry dominated the Housatonic Valley and the surrounding hills, the town flourished with several banks, shops, markets and a lumber yard to supply the burgeoning building industry. The nearby waterfalls provided the hydroelectric power for its industrial base.
These are quieter times. The railroad languidly rolls through town carrying only freight. The markets, banks and shops have moved out to more populous areas. The Falls Village Inn remains, offering Bunny Williams-designed guest rooms and a reliable, well-prepared menu curated by new Executive Chef Addison Todd.
Appetizers are carefully selected for a wide range of tastes. The bang-bang crispy calamari ($14) packs a pleasant “snap” nestled on a bed of lettuce. Maryland crab, jalapeno, scallion and goat cheese wontons ($14) offer a nice fusion touch to the menu. Crispy house wings ($13) are great to share and are a popular selection in the quaint pub room.
Salads rely on local suppliers during the growing season and add refreshing elements that set them apart from “just salad.” The Mediterranean salad ($14) includes roasted red peppers, artichokes, chickpeas, cucumbers, feta cheese and tahini dressing.
Entrees include the Falls Village Bridge burger ($15) that commemorates the re-opening of the bridge across the nearby Housatonic River and features local Whippoorwill Farms grass-fed beef. Long a favorite at The Inn, the lobster mac ‘n’ cheese ($25), features fresh Maine lobster, three cheeses (Vermont cheddar, Gruyere and cream cheese) and is topped with a Parmesan panko breadcrumb crust. The pan-roasted cod ($24) sits atop a bed of creamy white beans and ratatouille-style vegetables. The goat cheese-stuffed chicken breast ($24) is served over a wonderful ragout of potato, sweet corn, smoked bacon, fennel and mushrooms.
The signature entrée is steak and frites ($28), a New York strip steak grilled and topped with a bernaise butter, complemented by housemade fries.
Desserts change with the season and usually feature a fruit crumble ($8) that can be topped with vanilla ice cream for a pleasant end to a sumptuous meal. Portions are ample and “take home” cartons are often in view.
The Falls Village Inn
33 Railroad St., Falls Village, CT
Tuesday – Sunday, dinner starting at 5 p.m.
The Woodland, Lakeville
Let’s start with a word to the wise. Make reservations.
You see, The Woodland on Sharon Road is a popular spot. For close to 35 years, this country bistro has been a local favorite, consistently delivering excellent locally-sourced dishes enhanced with an exceptional sushi menu created by Chef “Leon” Li. Daily specials make the arduous task of selecting just one entrée a real, but most enjoyable challenge.
Appetizers run the gamut from an excellent charred filet of beef with ginger dipping sauce ($14) to tagliatelle with wild mushrooms, thyme and Parmigiano Reggiano ($12). Salads are ample and savory, with the arugula with roasted pancetta, pine nuts and Parmigiano ($11) a real standout. Daily additions bring a soup, additional salad offerings tied to the season and a semi-regular appearance of steamed mussels with garlic and white wine ($11). Frankly, it’s easy to simply order a few appetizers for an entire dinner.
That, however, would keep patrons from enjoying the magic of The Woodland’s entrée selections. Standouts are the pistachio nut-crusted salmon with lemon beurre blanc ($25) and the grilled pork chop, polenta and smoked bacon onion sauce ($22). We’ve long measured the sincerity of a restaurant by the way they treat their burger, and the burger with Grafton cheddar on Great Hill Blue (cheese) and house fries ($17) is fair indication that this is a sincere kitchen. The steaks are uniformly superior with the sliced hanger steak on garlic toast with sauteed spinach and house fries ($24) superb. The sauteed filet of sole meuniere on almandine ($26) is beautifully delicate.
Again, the daily specials offer great diversions with several pasta offerings. The basic spaghetti with Sungold tomato, basil and garlic ($19) appears in various versions throughout the year. Linguini, ravioli, penne and black spaghetti (made with squid ink) are all well prepared with a variety of complements. Prices range from $18 to $23 for pasta selections.
And, don’t forget the sushi. As an appetizer or an entire meal, the creations are fresh, skillfully prepared and beautifully served. Basic offerings — tuna roll ($7.75) and jumbo shrimp tempura roll ($9) are joined by the special Woodland roll with Cajun tuna, smoked salmon and sprouts ($9.25) and a wide selection of sashimi (3 pieces for $6) and nigiri sushi ($4/piece).
The fact that the housemade desserts are all priced at $6 (parfait with hot fudge, key lime pie, rum raisin rice pudding), $7 (vanilla crème brulee or warm chocolate cake) or $8 (peach, raspberry and almond crisp, bananas foster) makes ending the meal a real challenge.
The wine list is solid without being overwhelming, the bartenders are known for a generous pour, and the serving staff is both friendly and knowledgeable. The Woodland is a classic dining experience. Just remember to make reservations.
192 Sharon Rd., Lakeville, CT
Tuesday – Thursday, Lunch 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; Dinner 5–9 p.m.
Friday & Saturday, Lunch 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.; Dinner 5–10 p.m.
Sunday, Dinner 4–8:30 p.m.