Salisbury, Conn. — Just two or three steps into Provisions at The White Hart Inn, and you’ll feel the bright, fresh energy of this nice addition to the historic White Hart Inn. Provisions is a small, casual café open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week. It is also a take out and catering center, an upscale general store, and a great place to meet a friend for coffee.
Whether you pop in for breakfast, lunch, or a coffee, you can’t help but notice the deliberately decorated, posh general store surroundings. Designed and stocked by Megan Wilson of Ancient Industries in West Cornwall, and the White Hart team, it’s hard to believe there isn’t something to strike your fancy. Long, blue bookcases line two walls with a large family style dinning table in the center of the room. The shelves are loaded with penny candy, children’s toys, puzzles, metal Swiss army boxes, and chalkboards. There are cookbooks, speckled water pitchers, mugs, glasses, aprons, and cutting boards. They have everything you need for a perfect picnic with luxurious wool blankets, tote bags, and yes, the quintessential gingham lined picnic basket. There is even a Swiss Army barometer for sale so you’ll know the forecast for your picnic. All of these things are great, but you must also have good food as well. They have achieved that.
The freshly prepared salads and baked goods are displayed in a clean, glass, deli case. One can choose from an array of daily changing menu items. Generally, they offer three salads, a soup, a couple of pre-made sandwiches, two entrees, a quiche, croissant, some cookies, a scone, and other specials. There is definitely plenty to choose from. The coffee is freshly roasted from No. Six Depot in West Stockbridge, Mass. They also have wine in addition to a wide-ranging choice of juices and sodas. You may enjoy eating in the café, or get your goodies to go. I usually do both. Something to sit down and enjoy, and something to take home for dinner and a sweet snack later.
For breakfast, I love the roasted portabella with spinach and taleggio cheese on a slice of toasted whole grain bread. The mushroom is juicy enough to soak into the toast, so not a drop of flavor is wasted. There are traditional items such as oatmeal, or bagels, and non-traditional items like bacon butty or avocado toast on the breakfast menu as well. The sandwiches on the lunch menu are also unique. The ham and cheese croissant is like a sandwich, with a substantial helping of ham and brie, and was enough for lunch alone.
I’ve tried quite a few salads and have not been disappointed yet. They are always bright, fresh, and texturally interesting. The carrot salad was studded with raisins and fresh herbs. A confetti-colored red cabbage salad had watercress, carrots and lots of good olive oil in a mustard dressing, making it crunchy and tangy. Their kale Caesar salad is made with large crispy croutons and shaved parmesan tossed in a very light dressing. It was good, and I’m not on the raw kale bandwagon. One of the most interesting salads was vermicelli noodle with edamame, mint, toasted sesame seeds and a Thai chili dressing. I wanted a stronger mint flavor and would have torn the mint rather than using whole leaves, but the “mouth feel” was amazing. My favorite to date was a winter vegetable slaw. White matchsticks of fennel, Asain pear, celery root, daikon and cabbage with pumpkin seeds, Manchego cheese in a savory/sweet dressing was phenomenal. I have never asked for a salad recipe before and they happily obliged me with a printed recipe. That is really good customer service. All the service has been good from ingredient information to a chat about upcoming dishes.
One day, I brought home a large, boneless chicken breast with the wing attached, roasted in a Moroccan-inspired glaze, and served it along side the winter slaw. The chicken, with its subtle Mediterranean spices, complemented the clean taste of the slaw and made a very satisfying dinner.
On a separate occasion I ordered the carrot ginger soup, to go. It was aromatic and looked wonderful with large chunks of carrot, cauliflower, celery, and kale in a rich stock. Unfortunately it was very salty. Had I been eating it at Provisions, I would have alerted the kitchen there must have been a mistake because it was too salty to eat. I am hoping this was just a fluke and will return to try another soup, in the café.
The baked goods did not disappoint. The oatmeal raisin cookie was sweet and chewy with yellow raisins, white chocolate chunks and no shortage of butter. The chocolate chip had large chocolate chunks, was semi-soft, and accentuated with coarse sea salt. A seedless raspberry jam sandwiched between two flakey butter cookies, named Jammie Dodgers, were as pretty as could be and delightful. A raisin scone, with a sugar crumb crust, was so buttery I licked my fingers, but thought it was a little too sweet for a scone — maybe a personal preference.
Provisions also has an extensive catering menu for both large and small parties. They offer breakfasts, sandwiches, the famous salads, side dishes, and main courses. You can also order platters, appetizers, small bites and desserts, complete with a No. Six Depot coffee service suitable for 8 to 12 people. Keep them in mind for your next get-together, blanket picnic or formal dinner party. They suggest bringing your own china and they will gladly use it to present your order. I’m sure your guests will be appropriately impressed.
I have been telling all my local friends to go to Provisions.