The Inn On Park Street, Vermont

boston globe
By Joe Yonan, Globe Staff | October 23, 2005

BRANDON, Vt. -- Blame the rain, the traffic, and MapQuest. I arrived so late at The Inn on Park Street that innkeeper Judy Bunde -- and everyone else in the place -- had already gone to bed.

Porch, Inn On Park Street That was fine by me. The front door was unlocked. But that still left one not-so-small question: Which room was mine? The door to the large downstairs guest room was wide-open, the nightstand lights were on, and little cookies and water awaited on a table inside. This had to be the one. I popped one of the chocolate macaroons in my mouth, sighed with pleasure, and then scarfed down the other one, followed closely by two little ganache-filled tartlets. If this is what it's like to stay in an inn run by a former pastry chef, I thought, I'm in for a delectable weekend.

A gracious one, too, because Bunde knows more than mere baking.

Take that late arrival, for instance. As it turns out, I had walked right past a large note that Bunde had tacked to the front door of the inn, welcoming me and making sure I found the right room. If she couldn't be there to greet me, she would leave the next best thing.

Such details can turn an ordinary bed-and-breakfast into a home away from home, at least for a few days. It was too rainy for hiking, biking, or much else that would require a trip outside, and the foliage was missing those fiery reds this year, but the pitter-patter of drops on the windowsill made for top-notch sleeping and decent reading. Worse things can happen than a do-nothing weekend.

Bunde helped me salvage other activities, with dinner at the top of the list. Before I had even arrived, she offered in an e-mail exchange to make a reservation at Cafe Provence, the town's delightful -- and very busy -- French restaurant. When I asked her by phone to help me find a massage therapist for my sore neck, she immediately went to work.

Hospitality seems to come naturally to Bunde, who took over the inn about a year ago after her wholesale pastry business, Sweet Endings, burned down in Watertown, and she moved to Brandon. In this six-room Queen Anne Victorian inn, Bunde whips up such bountiful morning meals that it could just as easily be called a bed-and-brunch. Indulge in everything she offers at the breakfast table, and your stomach won't growl again until dinnertime.

On Saturday morning, I chatted with a young couple and wondered aloud why the table was set when we already had plates and a seemingly full breakfast buffet awaiting us in the parlor. Then Bunde came in and explained the drill. We could graze off the buffet, which included granola with yogurt, fruit, plus homemade banana bread and bran muffins, then she would cook to order our choice of pecan-maple waffles or squash-and-tomato omelets. With sausage, of course. In other words, two breakfasts in one.

If, like me, you need a jolt of caffeine before facing your fellow travelers over the breakfast table, Bunde offers what she calls ''dressing coffee," a tray with a Thermos of java, cup, creamer, and sugar waiting outside your door first thing in the morning. Now that's service.

Bunde's other claim to fame is her 9 p.m. dessert buffet. I had missed it on Friday, which no doubt is why she left me the macaroons and tartlets. I wasn't about to let that happen again. So on Saturday, after a stroll around downtown, poking into the Warren Kimble gallery and store, and a trip to a spa at nearby Killington for a massage, I hightailed it back to Cafe Provence and skipped dessert.

When I walked back into the inn, the fire was crackling in the green-and-yellow parlor, and Bunde was holding forth on the pros and cons of innkeeping for two guests intrigued by the lifestyle. She had set out four kinds of cookies, each better than the last; my favorite was the perfectly buttery shortbread studded with pistachios and dried cranberries -- but the maple-walnut cookies were a close second. She ran to the kitchen to slip a dish of apple crisp under the broiler, and returned with a generous helping, topped with a scoop of ice cream.

It may not sound that way, but there is more to the inn than the food. My room, the only one of the six that is outfitted with cable TV, was also stocked with videos, from ''The Sound of Music" and ''Singin' in the Rain" to ''The English Patient" and ''Wag the Dog." It also has a Jacuzzi-style tub big enough for two or even three, although when I tried it out the hot water didn't last long enough to fill the thing, leaving the bath lukewarm before I even got in.

No matter. It was bedtime anyway, and I needed to get my strength back for tackling the next day's challenge -- no, not the drive home -- breakfast. Bunde had promised, among other things, scones. Something was telling me hers would be close to perfect.

Contact Joe Yonan at
The Inn on Park Street , 69 Park Street, Brandon, Vt.
Call 800-394-7239 or visit


boston globe

October 31, 2004

When her Boston-area bakery burned down in 2002, Judy Bunde took off her toque and moved to Vermont. Now an innkeeper, she's opening her kitchen for a series of weekend workshops called "Cooking With Chefs." Upcoming offerings include "Fabulous Fall Apple Desserts" Nov. 5-7, a roundup of Thanksgiving confections in "Ten Desserts to Give Thanks For," Nov. 12-14, and a Christmas Cookie Bake-Off Dec. 10-12. One cookie weekend has already sold out.

For $280 per person ($210 with double occupancy), you get two overnights, a light Friday night supper, two country breakfasts, lunch and dinner on Saturday, snacks, and an afternoon of pastry wizardry in Bunde's spacious kitchen. Participation is open-ended: You can work the dough or just watch.

The inn is a French Second Empire gem on idyllic Park Street in Brandon, whose center is all on the National Register. The surrounding neighborhood is a perfect place to walk if you've eaten one too many.

The Inn on Park Street , 69 Park Street, Brandon, Vt.
Call 800-394-7239 or visit

[Excerpt on Brandon, courtesy Yankee Magazine, May 2004]

In late 2002, folk artist Warren Kimble and others to thinking about how to support the arts in this town on the western slope of the Green Mountains. They hit upon the idea of getting sponsors to buy full-size white fiberglass pigs, which would then be painted by artists in town and auctioned off.

"We got 40 people to put up $500 each for the pigs, which was remarkable," says Kimble, who's lived in Brandon for 34 years. Those pigs, displayed around town all summer and auctioned in the fall, raised about $120,000 to support the artists' guild and arts programs in the schools. (They'll do it again this year, but with birdhouses instead of pigs.)

It's the kind of community project that tells you something about a town. "I've always said that people care about people here in Brandon," says Kimble. "You know your neighbor. There's contentment."

Recently there has been a revival in Brandon. "The whole town has really come alive over the past couple of years," says Fred Rowe of Rowe Real Estate. Kimble agrees and notes that he moved his studio and gallery to downtown Brandon last year for just that reason, renovating a large downtown building for the purpose.

Brandon offers a lot. All 243 buildings in the core village are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Two cascading waterfalls give the village a dramatic touch. There's a charming historic covered bridge. Walking around town, you can browse through shops and galleries, ambling past restaurants, the library, the town hall, and a grocery store, all of which make downtown a destination for visitors as well as for the town's 4,000 residents.

Brandon is well situated, 15 miles from Lake Champlain, 15 miles from the college town of Middlebury, and 15 miles from Rutland, which has plenty of shopping and services, including a commercial shuttle from its small airport to Boston. Burlington, Vermont's largest city, is 60 miles to the north.