Review: The Groton Inn and Forge & Vine
The Inn-side Scoop
It can be easy to get caught up in city life. We've got the curse of convenience: everything you'd ever need is withing walking distance, or worst case, a quick T or Lyft ride. Sometimes, I feel like that there's so much to do that I actually find myself doing nothing, because just having all these options are what matters. And soon weeks or months pass and you realize that you haven't spent a weekend away from home in quite some time.
So when the Groton Inn reached out to have my boyfriend and I stay the weekend and try their amazing restaurant, Forge & Vine, I jumped at the chance. Only about an hour outside of the city, it's the perfect mix of staycation with distancing yourself from the city. But what really had me excited was the inn itself.
The original Groton Inn was built in the late 1600s and was an integral part of the community for centuries. However, a fire in 2011 brought the historic building to ashes, leaving a devatasted town it its wake. The land stood vacant for years, a sad reminder of what was once the oldest inn in the United States. But then, like a phoenix, a new Groton Inn emerged in 2018 paying homage to the original, but with all the modern amenities we love in a hotel.
From the outside, the inn is modeled after its historic sister. White columns standing tall, classic windows, a red-brick walkway. And once inside, the same warm feeling washes over you like a blanket (perhaps from the fireplace in the lobby). Like a true inn, each of the 60 rooms are different, making your experience feel like a unique one. However, unlike a historic inn, these rooms have modern bathrooms with heated floors and environmentally-friendly products. The comforter and pillows are soft and plush, and each floor has two taps in the hall to fill with flat or sparkling water to replace the use of plastic water bottles. It's the perfect cozy, romantic escape, without sacrificing modern comfort. Top it all off with complimentary breakfast with a build-your-own parfait bar and an omelette chef, and we had ourselves the perfect weekend.
Nothing to Wine About
One concern we did have was the area. Sure, we didn't want to be in the city but we also didn't want to be bored. The city life has definitely spoiled us, and it was already a hard argument to convince my boyfriend to power down the video games for a few days. So I did a bit of research and was psyched to find not one but TWO wineries within an hour drive. The first is Nashoba Valley -- a popular apple picking spot that we've been to before and really enjoyed. But we wanted to try somewhere new so we settled on the second option: LaBelle Winery. Right over the border in Amherst, NH, this award-winning winery is small but mighty, serving up more than 35 wines and farm-to-table food. We opted for a tasting first, each of us selecting the 10 tastes for $15 option, which seemed like a great deal to us. We were taken on a wine-ding journey (had to) through the history of each wine, its flavor profile and pairings while also striking up a great conversation with our tasting expert. After we finished our tasting we were able to sit down for a snack and get full pours of the wines we loved. I opted for the dry pear and Adam went with the cranberry riesling, which our server brought over for a complimentary taste when we were seated. We each ordered the French onion soup made with the house riesling, and a cheese plate that came with homemade blueberry jam. At the end of our excursion we loved the wine so much we bought six to take home, a dry blueberry, two dessert wines, a white sangria, a moscato, and the cranberry riesling to bring for Thanksgiving.
Forged in Fire
Walk through the Groton Inn's art gallery (which they do in collaboration with the tiny art gallery across the street) and take a step outside, there' you'll find the hotel's highly-rated restaurant Forge & Vine. It's a different building than the hotel and a parking lot separates the two, making this hotel restaurant seem like anything but, and allowing Forge & Vine to have plenty of room to play with. We had a reservation at 5PM on Saturday, which was a smart move considering the wait without one was an 1 hour and 45 minutes. We got talking to the sous chef JP Dedominicis, and he informed us that people are waiting outside for the restaurant to open seven days a week.
Almost like a playful nod to the reason for the original hotel's demise, most of the food in Forge & Vine is cooked over an eight-foot wood fired grill, adding not only a depth of flavor but quite the show in the open kitchen. Complementing the kitchen is the beautiful U-shaped bar and the rustic light fixtures that delicately hang from the barn-like ceiling. It's immediately warm and comforting, much like the Inn. Every seat in the dining room has a view of the kitchen, letting you watch the perfectly orchestrated dance of the chefs as the prepare colorful dishes with local flavors.
We started off with the gorgonzola gnocchi, which got an immediate "good choice!" from our server (always a good sign).We followed with the hard-to-resist poutine and the baked brie, because it reminds me of Thanksgiving with my cousins. Out of the three I was actually the most nervous about the gnocchi. I pride myself on being able to eat anything with one exception: bleu cheese. So really, I got this to appease my boyfriend but did decide to try a bite (I promised myself that I would never post about anything I haven't personally tried). To my shock, it was delicious. The bleu cheese was subtle and so well balanced with the house-smoked bacon that I found myself going for bite after bite. The poutine was also tasty and the baked brie reminded me of home -- a delightfully rich start to a stunning meal.
For our entrees, we opted for the braised beef pappardelle, which was so creamy it tasted like a beef stronognoff. If there's one thing I realized about Forge & Vine is that they hit the nail on the head when it comes to comfort while also being exceptionally light and dynamic. We also ordered the tuna poke to give ourselves a little break from the the carbs and cream. I chose the fresh tuna over the salmon and loved how it came with crunchy edemame and pickled cucumber along with soft avocado and wakame salad. Each piece of the dish is separated in the bowl, letting you control how much of each you want in your bite.
By the time it came to dessert we were stuffed but we did manage to find a little room. All of the options looked good: butterscotch budino, pumpkin doughnuts, German chocolate cheesecake, and a spice cake. But when we saw that the table next to us had ordered the spice cake, it was all over. We waved to our server and demanded we try the 10-layer masterpiece. We're a sucker for anything with cream cheese icing and the sweet, cider-poached apples were the perfect complement to the fall-flavored cake. We found ourselves grabbing forkful after forkful, scooping up bourbon ice cream and crunchy fried walnuts. One slice is plenty to share, though we were tempted to take another for the most elegant late-night snack.
When the sun rose on Sunday morning, we were disappointed to have to leave our weekend getaway. We didn't realize it at the time, but the cool-country air was the perfect remedy for our case of the Boston blues. Though only about an hour away, we were swept away into a great escape, if only for a short while.