Behind a country store on Route 100 is a tiny restaurant that is quickly making a name for itself in Vermont’s local food scene.
Kevin Lasko and Katie Stiles opened The Backroom a little over a year ago behind the Original General Store in Pittsfield. The restaurant seats 20 people at two large tables in a communal dining setting, giving guests the chance to mingle and enjoy local food together.
The couple left behind their culinary careers in New York in 2014—Kevin was a chef at Park Avenue and Katie worked in public relations for the restaurant industry—and relocated to Pittsfield to run the general store and open Vermont Farms Catering. It wasn’t long before they realized they could take their culinary expertise a step further and open a communal, weekend-only dining room that focuses on fresh, local food.
The restaurant is becoming so popular that reservations are required at least a couple of weeks in advance, thanks to word-of-mouth buzz and recent publicity in the New York Times and elsewhere.
Dining at The Backroom
The Backroom is located behind the 19th-century general store in a newer addition of the building that once served as an office. Kevin and Katie transformed the space into a beautiful, intimate setting with the main tables crafted from reclaimed wood from the hull of old boat, tall shelves filled with wine bottles and cook books, and soft Edison lights suspended from the ceiling.
In an open-style kitchen, Kevin prepares three-course meals while Katie serves cocktails and helps plate dishes that taste as good as they sound—Maple Wind Farm pork loin, red trout toast, Newhall Farm egg, spring herb stuffed mussels, Vermont-raised filet mignon, and honey rhubarb ice cream.
About 63 percent of the food the couple purchases for the restaurant is from or produced in Vermont. Some of the farms they partner with include Newhall Farm in Reading, Sweet Georgia P’s at Amee Farm in Pittsfield, and Luna Bleu Farm in South Royalton.
“We try to stick to using Vermont food and products, and what we found available in Vermont is so far beyond what you get in New York,” Katie says. “It’s a dream.”
While local and farm-to-table restaurant options are certainly common in Vermont, the communal dining experience at The Backroom is very unique. I wasn’t entirely sure how I would feel sitting next to a group of strangers during dinner at The Backroom last weekend. But Katie and Kevin have a knack for putting guests at ease, offering cocktails and delectable snacks—including hand-cut steak tartar and Maplebrook burrata—to give diners a chance to soak up the ambiance and socialize. Dave and I, along with our young daughter, settled in next to three other couples we had just met and never found a lull in the conversation. (Not bad for a couple of semi-introverts!)
Keith and Lisa Spulecki, of Pittsfield, sat across from us. It was their fifth meal at The Backroom since it first opened in February 2015. Over dessert, Keith told us, “Outside of the food, what I love about this place is that it’s a successful Vermont restaurant where you can sit here, meet new people, and just have great conversations.”
Kevin and Katie opted for the communal dining experience as a way to meet new people themselves and make use of the small space in the back of the country store, which was only being used for catering during half of the year. The communal concept also fits with an upward trend toward less formal dining. “There is a swing toward a more casual experience across the country,” Katie says.
A Path to Pittsfield
The couple chose to relocate to Pittsfield—a town of 550 people located just north of Killington—after spending time in the area over the years participating in the local Spartan Race. They got to know race cofounder and CEO Joe De Sena, who owns Amee Farm and Riverside Farm in Pittsfield. De Sena owned and operated the general store at the time, and eventually approached Kevin and Katie to run the business. At first, the couple wasn’t overly interested in operating a Vermont country store. But when they realized they could also start Vermont Farms Catering, they were in.
A member of the Vermont Fresh Network, Vermont Farms Catering serves weddings and private events at Amee Farm, The Trailside Inn, Riverside Farm, and other venues during the summer and fall.
The Backroom is open Friday and Saturday nights, with seatings at 6 p.m. on Fridays and 5:30 p.m. on Saturdays. The restaurant is open to the public from November to mid-June, and parties of 15 or more can reserve the restaurant from Sunday to Thursday throughout the year.
Reservations are required for dinner, and there are still openings before The Backroom closes in mid-June (they are accepting reservations for dinner on May 27, June 3-4, and June 10-11). The Backroom is also accepting reservations for the restaurant’s reopening in November.
Without a doubt, The Backroom is worth the wait.
For more information or to make a reservation, visit www.thebackroom.com.
**If You Go: The Backroom is located behind the Original Country Store at 3963 Route 100 in Pittsfield. Call 802-770-4357. Vegetarian and dietary-restrictions are accommodated, and children are welcome.
*The Backroom paid for our meal.