Nestled along the Contoocook River in the town of Henniker, is Colby Hill Inn, a charming farmhouse-inspired retreat located on a sprawling six-acre property that dates back to the 1970s. The inn is an ideal respite for those looking to get away from the hectic pace of city life.
The idea behind the inn is to create an atmosphere for its guests that evokes the charm and character of a traditional New Hampshire farmhouse.
“Our mission is to bring back the farm to the farmers,” said Jefferson Brechbühl who co-owns the inn with chef-proprietor Bruce Barnes. “We wanted to make it feel like you’re in a farmhouse in New Hampshire.”
Colby Hill Inn is committed to sourcing its ingredients from local farmers and promoting sustainable practices. In keeping with this promise, the inn has taken steps to expand its own garden by adding more raised beds. They’ve also reintroduced farm animals to their property, with chickens and alpine goats now living in a rustic barn right on the property. Guests can visit the barn and see firsthand where some of their meals are coming from and be in touch with nature.
Beyond the charming and cozy farmhouse vibe Colby Hill Inn offers, the focal point is the Grazing Room, a restaurant that serves cuisine from around the world, paired with a selection of fine wines.
“The most unique thing about this place, aside from the atmosphere, is the unique dining experience,” Brechbühl said, highlighting the dining destination’s ability to introduce people to different cultures through food in a small town like Henniker. “The chef has an international view and experience and so his offering is extremely unique, it’s not typical New England traditional.”
At the dining room of the property, flavors from around the world are served with a view of the bucolic grounds, setting the perfect ambiance for a culinary experience. A beautiful hand-painted mural adorning the walls, showcasing Henniker’s iconic buildings, adds to the dining room’s charm, giving it a local touch.
For those with a passion for wine and a love of fine cuisine, this restaurant hosts year-round wine dinners featuring some of the best international winemakers. Spanish, Mexican, and Bordeaux nights will feature wine pairings with the chef’s curated menu.
“We’re trying to have a really stellar wine list,” said Brechbühl. “A lot of our wines you can’t find in New Hampshire retail stores which makes us different and really stand out.”
Some of the ingredients used to prepare dishes served at the restaurant are not easily available to source from local farms, said Sachiko Ito Howard, the inn’s farming director.
One of the chef’s signature appetizers, a fried squash blossom stuffed with goat cheese and served in a special sauce, use specific ingredients that are hard to come by locally, such as a baby squash still attached to its stalk.
“In such cases, the restaurant had to contact big suppliers which are against the philosophy of farm to table,” said Howard who has taken the initiative to develop the garden to grow difficult-to-source ingredients.
She is currently growing a variety of micro greens and herbs in the inn’s garden for use in the chef’s preparations.
The inn is also taking steps to create an eco-friendly future through education. In celebration of Earth Day, the inn is organizing a special screening of a documentary on food waste to draw attention to the staggering amount of food waste that ends up in landfills. Guests will also enjoy a tasting of a curated selection of sustainable wines at the barn.
“Our purpose is also to reduce waste,” Howard said, explaining that they want to keep farming at the inn and use food waste to feed chickens or compost it.