Greenhouse Café & Tavern
I’m very excited to write this page. This is the 12th of what may ultimately be 169 town completion celebration pages! Yes, of course I am fully aware of how absurd that is. Send your condolences to my wife and children, care of the comments below.
For those of you who are new here… In late 2016, after a decade of writing CTMQ, I decided to try to “complete” towns. In that decade of traveling and writing, I had already done a lot of stuff in most of our towns already. However, I have been continually surprised by how much more there often is to do. This page you’re reading includes my “town completion celebration meal.” These will sometimes be at the best restaurant in town. Or the most historic. Or the most iconic. Or the most unique. Or the only one. Or at a gas station. Every town is different!
Let’s get to it.
Burlington, Hartford County
Burlington was my: 12th town completed
First CTMQ Visit: Burlington State Fish Hatchery, March 2008
The Celebration Meal
Burlington was definitely one of the first towns in the state that sort of opened my eyes to what’s really available for us to do here in Connecticut. As one who has hiked all over the US and up and down “real” mountains from Georgia to Maine to Colorado, you’d have had a hard time convincing me there were trails in Burlington – in Hartford County! that would require some use of my hands.
But then I went into the woods of Burlington, and… sort of fell for the town. I’ve perhaps spent more hours in Burlington’s woods than any other town’s in Connecticut. I wonder if that’s true? It must be true. There are a lot of trails here, and I’ve redone several for various reasons, and redlining the town requires lots of backtracking and retracing as well.
In light of that, let’s celebrate. Burlington doesn’t offer too much in the way of restaurants, but the Greenhouse Café & Tavern on Route 4 near the Harwinton border seemed as good as a place as any.
The Greenhouse Cafe and Tavern offers a family friendly dining experience. Join us for lunch or dinner inside our new Dining room and Bar or ‘al fresco’, alongside our beautiful pond and waterfall amongst beautifully planted gardens. We are focused on the “farm to table” concept and work hard to ensure that as much product as possible is locally sourced to ensure the freshest and most delicious menu offerings.
The complex of buildings here is a bit disorienting; there’s the Frozen Gnome ice cream parlor, some gardens and greenhouses where they grown their own veggies and stuff, the outdoor cafe portion of the restaurant and… yeah. It’s not their fault that it’s a jumble, but I must mention it. But look at the beautiful picture from the Greenhouse Tavern!
Okay, that’s a picture of a picture from the Greenhouse Tavern bathroom wall, but still. There you go.
Calvin and I took our seats and ordered our lunches. In the restaurant, not the cafe. I’m not sure, really, what the difference is but if you go here, you can figure it out I’m sure. I was too focused on the exciting moment at hand… Completing Burlington!
I ordered a Stony Creek Mexicali lager as my celebratory beverage to go with a turkey burger for me and (of course) mac ‘n cheese or buttered noodles or some such boring cliche little American kid thing for Calvin.
The wait was, um, way longer than we expected. Not sure why, but I got the feeling that this place is often a bit slow with the service. I’m sure the reason is “made to order” and all of that, which is fine… except I can’t imagine what it’s like when busy.
Whatever, our food arrived and I reminisced with my son about all things Burlington. Calvin’s favorite two things are easily the Mile of Ledges hike and Lamothe’s Sugar House. The boy loves maple syrup more than anyone I know.
As I alluded, he also rather loves high-carb bleh dishes like mac ‘n cheese. And after a hike and after he’s been waiting a little while…
I suppose it’s good here! My turkey burger was pretty good too. It’s one of those fancy kinds that actually tastes like turkey and looks fairly unappetizing – that’s the trade off with these things. I ate it up and took a minute to take in our surroundings, and hit the road.
That’s the thing about Burlington. Tucked away in western Hartford County, it is an unassuming town that almost dares you to remember it shares a fairly long border with Bristol. There is literally nowhere in town that would ever lead you to believe it is so close to a moderately large post-industrial city like Bristol.
Its restaurants are few and slow, its trails are rugged and isolated, and… it’s completed!
Burlington, the 12th town I’ve completed, was the first town that I didn’t realize I was nearly finished with until I was nearly finished with it. I realize that makes no sense to you, and I won’t bother explaining further except to say that once I thought about it whilst driving somewhere someday, it was a fairly exciting revelation for me…
Which then got me thinking about other towns around the state with similar situations. And I think there are several more. Of course, Burlington wasn’t quite so neat and tidy as all that. The 40 mile web of Tunxis Trail in town had a fairly significant makeover a couple years ago which necessitated a reworking of all my trail write-ups. (CTMQ_OCD is a heckuva thing.) But once I was able to get inside the rarely open historical society museums in town, that was pretty much it for on-the-scene effort.
All that was left was a few new write-ups and clean-ups, a couple quick random visits to things, and then the big moment of coloring in the town green! I had some help with that:
Funny story: Calvin colored in Burlington and we had a chat about what that meant and what I do and why I take all those pictures. He listened intently and seemed interested, so I asked him to pick a town that he’d like to complete with me. He immediately answered, “Avon.”
I thought that was odd, as it borders our hometown and doesn’t have an exciting sounding name. After some probing, he admitted it was because when he colored Burlington, he went out of the lines and a bit of green bled into Avon. In other words, he wanted to cover up his “mistake.” (Calvin_OCD is a heckuva thing.)
Anyway… Burlington. I can’t quite call it Hartford County’s western frontier, as I’ll reserve that for Hartland. But Burlington is no slouch when it comes to ruggedness. In fact, that’s the adjective that jumps to my mind when I think of the town. There are cliffs and massive boulder jumbles and waterfalls and some great trails through and near everyone in town.
Hiking every foot of every trail in Burlington requires a lot of time spent in Burlington. It’s time well spent. And every time one goes to hike here, one can check out the other cool stuff like the state fish hatchery, Lamothe’s, and Hogan’s.
I don’t expect anyone to do what I’ve done in the town, but you really should do the best of the best. You’ll be glad you did.
Thought exercise: If I had to send someone to Burlington for a day, it would involve a lot of hiking. It would be tough to pick just one half-day hike, but it would have to include the Mile of Ledges and Tory Den… so maybe just the Yellow-Dot/Mainline loop with Greer Road that I did with Calvin in 2018. Pack a lunch to have at Tory Den, and when finished, stop in for some maple treats at Lamothe’s Sugar House before poking around the fish hatchery. Finish your day at Sessions Woods and take another hike to the falls and the observation deck there.
Surprise: There is a LOT of great – and challenging – hiking in Burlington. A few actual hand-over-hand scrambles. In Hartford County.
Favorite fact: The little Lamothe Sugar House is the largest producer of maple syrup in the state.
Disappointment: That vandals ruined the Hubble family’s awesome private tower in the middle of the woods. For shame.