WESTON — Take a picturesque farmhouse rooted in Weston history. Keep the country vibe, but wash walls inside in soothing creamy white, and you have The Hub. The Weston Playhouse Theater Company owns the nearby farmhouse.
It’s convenient for pre-theater meals, after skiing at Bromley or social gatherings. A large screen, cleverly concealed behind barn doors, allows for a Zoom discussion, the Hub contingent quite possibly enjoying some fine food simultaneously. Plans are to have wine dinners, and if a local visit isn’t possible, a winemaker might appear via Zoom.
The community roots extend not only to the theater but to a profit-sharing commitment with restaurant staff, by owners Leslie Kimball and David Kappos, of Landgrove. The Hub also participates in Everyone Eats, a program that feeds those in need. On the restaurant website, Gladys Walker, then 98, charmingly speaks in a 10-minute video of the history of the town and its history in drama. Born in the farmhouse, she lived there until her death at 101. My suggestion: Watch the video before dining at the Hub; her genial spirit will watch over your visit.
Chef Michael Ehlenfeldt has created a menu for a 21st-century farmhouse: Without fussiness, he highlights tasty local ingredients. Vegetables, for example, come from the Hemingway Farms in Charlestown, N.H., Abenaki Springs Farm in Walpole, N.H., and other small farms nearby.
Our party of four tried a cocktail called The Slammer (Bulleit rye, maple syrup, lemon, reduced apple cider, black walnut bitters, orange and a twist of peppers), conjuring up the kick of a barnyard mule — in a good way. (I guess that’s a citified person talking.) The hot toddy (featuring Sapling maple bourbon, handcrafted in Vermont) took off the fall chill, and reminded me of toddies I’ve had in Ireland. The beer menu offers a decent local selection.
For appetizers, we went traditional: the cheese board (highlight: The Thin Red Line from Lazy Lady Farm, which dusts a fine line of paprika in the midst of the smooth goat cheese) and the charcuterie (featuring pork pate with pistachio and homemade pickled veggies). Rustic Orchard Hill bread for each was chewy and perfect. Oh — and the housemade candied spaghetti squash served with the cheese was a sweet surprise.
A not-so-sweet surprise was having dined on a night when Ehlenfeldt was cheffing by his lonesome on the first night of the new menu; our targeted meal, short ribs, had sold out to 30 lucky patrons before we arrived. That left just three main course selections (sans the veal that had been on the online menu). We opted for the wild caught Coho salmon from Alaska (Ehlenfeldt never serves farm-raised). My brother liked the flavor profile, salmon, atop cooked spinach and pommes Lyonnaise. For me, the potato was thick and bland, weighing down the dish. We also opted for the delicata squash (with mushrooms, quinoa, feta and broccolini and garlic), full and satisfying.
The star of the desserts was the chocolate mousse, fluffy and deeply flavored. The scoop of malted ice cream delivered “a milkshake in a ball,” fresh and, well, malty. The chocolate cake, though, was disappointing — dry and unredeemed by the blueberry syrup and fruit.
Generally service was friendly (our waitress is moving to the Boston area in December) and pleasant — except for one odd note. Two orders of salmon arrived. But minutes crept by until the squash dishes arrived, meaning the salmon cooled as we politely waited.
“Sorry about that,” was the only explanation.
Throughout the evening, the dining room had a cheery feel. Place settings featured pretty rustic plates — handmade by Cynthia Flores Ehlenfeldt, the chef’s wife.
I counted just seven tables inside (plus others outside — although no one was out there the night we visited), so the evening hinted of eating in Gladys Walker’s longtime home.
This story has been corrected to reflect that The Slammer is a cocktail and that the restaurant is not owned by the The Weston Playhouse Theater Company.