At the end of a rutted dirt road, deep in the forest of Mason, New Hampshire, there lies an enchanted cottage with the best deal I have yet found in my travels. Pickity Place only serves lunch, and you must come at one of their scheduled seating times (11:30, 12:45, or 2), but this is a meal well worth the trip! For $16.95 they serve a five course luncheon including their yummy drinks.
As we waited for the lunch bell to ring, we wandered the beautiful grounds. Pickity grows most of their own herbs and edible flowers, so we enjoyed their subtle aroma as we took in the lush greenery. The scents were even more pungent inside the "drying shack" where plants filled the room, hanging from the rafters and lined up against the walls. Should you be feeling inspired by all this nature, they have a garden shop filled with whimsical delights. I purchased a tinkling wind chime to remind myself of this magical place when stuck back in the concrete jungle that is Los Angeles.
Pickity Place also has a gift shop. The front section is filled with sweet little tchotskys such as magnets and placards reminding us why "daughters are precious" and "Mothers are angels." There's also some hand crafted jewelry and gourmet soaps. It is in the back section that this gift shop really comes into it's own. Imagine the spice rack at the local supermarket. Now expand that to fill the next two aisles and you will have some idea of what this room looks like. Herbs, blends, teas, dips, even mixes for cakes and breads fill the room. To stave off any pre-lunch hunger they even have yummy samples.
The final stop before heading into the restaurant is the Little Red Riding Hood Museum. The cottage that is now the restaurant was actually the inspiration for the illustration of Grandmother's House in the 1948 edition of Little Red Riding Hood. They've recreated an exact scene from the book in one of the rooms, and I can only imagine little children will be enthralled to find the wolf disguised as grandmother lying in the canopy bed.
On to the main event: the food! Pickity serves the same five course menu every day for a month and then changes it completely. This ensures that the food is always in season. To plan your visit in advance, you can check out the menus online. They offer the choice of a vegetarian or meat entree.
We were led out to the porch, a tiny glassed in structure with four tables. The red table cloths, fresh flowers, and napkins wrapped in ribbon give the room a festive atmosphere. Any meal at Pickity Place automatically becomes an event!
Upon being seated, they offer the choice of coffee, mocha, herbal tea, spiced tea, or lavender lemonade. Having previously tried the lemonade (a surprising and deliciously refreshing choice) I opted for the spiced tea. Served with a cinnamon stick, it looked comforting and homey, however the flavor was not as intense as I might have wished.
They also presented us with their fresh baked bread of the month: Sunflower Nut Bread. Served warm, this tasty treat was soft but substantial, exactly what I expect from homemade bread. The flavor only improved when I slathered on a generous helping of honey lemon butter. It was the sort of nostalgic mouthful capable of transporting one to a simpler time - perfection!
Also waiting at our table was the "first course" which was a veggie dip. As a true foodie, I find it hard to consider dip a first course, but I forgive them (even at four courses, this is a ridiculous deal!). The dip itself had a robust tang, the result of sour cream, that was tempered by the mellower mayo. The strongest flavors were garlic and onion, a satisfyingly savory start to our meal.
Next came the Summers End Soup. This delectable treat was chock full of fresh veggies and the broth had a smoky depth unlike anything I've ever experienced. It was complex and intense while still maintaining the integrity of the vegetable flavors. A true treat!
Next came the Artichoke and Mozzarella Pinwheel Salad. The zing of the vinaigrette was offset nicely by the creaminess of the mozzarella. With the herbs intact, we were able to fully experience their flavor which made them an interesting addition to the salad.
For the main course, I chose the Pork Rollade with Caramelized Onions. The edible flower and herbs were a genius way to add color to an otherwise very brown dish. The pork was moist and tasted great with the generous amount of caramelized onions. Sauteed Zucchini, served on the side, was a pleasant surprise. I have previously found this dish to be flavorless and watery, but they must use ample amounts of butter and plenty of herbs to kick up this side as it was positively scrumptious!
We ended our feast with Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Blueberry Cream. The filling was packed with strawberry flavor while the rhubarb imparted an interesting texture. Encased in a buttery flaky crust, I couldn't resist devouring the whole piece despite my full stomach. The blueberry cream was a revelation, lightly sweet with just a subtle fruitiness, I thoroughly enjoyed every bite!
All in all, this is the best deal I have found since writing this blog - I give it five belt notches out of five! If you ever find yourself even remotely close to this restaurant (like within two-four hours away), I suggest you take a detour and give it a try - you will not regret it! I confess, my family and I made the three hour drive from Cape Cod, stayed in a B&B, and made an entire excursion out of this one meal. We all heartily agreed that it was well worth it!
Pickity Place serves their $16.95 Five Course Luncheon Daily.
248 Nutting Hill Road
Mason, NH 03048