Nate’s Stumble Inn
15409 S 2nd St., Bennington
Fare: Bar & Grill
Cost: $60 for three apps, two meals and shared dessert
Reservations: Not needed
Sometimes I know where I want to eat weeks in advance, and other times I find myself overwhelmed with choices – waiting until the last minute to pick. This month, it was getting down to the wire with just a few hours before dinner time. I decided I was in the mood for fried chicken and I remember being referred by a friend to try the chicken at Nate’s Stumble Inn out in Bennington.
As soon as I pointed Martha in the direction of their menu, she was pumped to see things like corn nuggets and mac and cheese bites; the inner child in her loves those things. So last Tuesday, we hopped in Martha’s car and headed west.
Operated by a father and son duo, Stumble Inn originally opened in a different location down the street in 2007 under the name Schettler’s. When the historic building they now reside in became available in 2014, they purchased it and gave their business a new name and a bigger menu.
We stumbled in – ba dum tsss – to the restaurant and sat ourselves at a high top along the wall. Our server greeted us with menus and waters, asking us right away if we wanted Chips and Queso. Of course we said yes.
The Queso came with homemade tortilla chips, which was an unexpected but welcomed surprise – as we really only see these at Mexican joints. We only wished they were a bit crispier. I commented the Queso was a little runny and the meat was essentially puréed – Martha agreed. But for an easy app to get us started, we both liked it.
Along with Chips and Queso, we ordered the Corn Nuggets – a choice our server commended. These creamed corn-filled nuggets came out piping hot with a cup of honey. Comparing them to a version she’s had at the Good Life Bar, Martha thought even though they were worth ordering, they weren’t as good as GLB’s. With nothing to compare them to, I thought they were tasty and well-paired with honey as a dipping sauce.
I ordered both the Chicken Fried Steak and two small pieces of Fried Chicken (the latter not pictured). The same breading on both, I liked the flavors well enough. But full honesty, it was not the best (of either) that I’ve had. The breading wasn’t the crispy texture I was hoping for – like the kind you’ll find at Gorats, Charleston’s or Jack & Mary’s (my personal fave). That being said, I still enjoyed it – even the next day after a quick reheat in the oven.
Martha couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try the Pork Tenderloin, as it was a featured item on their menu (highlighted and starred). It did not disappoint. As the picture shows, the sandwich took up most of the plate and was generously thick where it needed to be, too. As in: the pork loin isn’t beat incredibly thin in order to get the size of the sandwich as big as it was. Hot, juicy and not overly breaded – Martha would have eaten more if she could stomach it. But after two appetizers and the fact that her side of Mac & Jack bites deserved her attention – she enjoyed the sandiwhich as much as she could while it was still piping hot.
Another nostalgia order (hello, college days!), Martha will always order a mac and cheese bite if available. These were creamy with a hint of spice and she loved every morsel. In the end, she took home half a sandwich and a box full of various sides to enjoy the next day.
At the beginning of our meal, I was convinced I’d have enough room to enjoy a slice of apple pie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream because: America. However, as we worked our way through our huge portions of appetizers and main meals, we both knew enjoying dessert was in jeopardy.
But in the name of research for the people (the people NEED to know!), we pushed through and decided to split the server-recommended brownie. She couldn’t endorse our decision fast enough, telling us the brownies were made fresh every day, generously portioned like everything else, and came to the table warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We requested she bring it to the table WITH a to-go box because we envisioned having one bite and then stopping.
But we must have blacked out because the next thing you know, we were splitting the last bite of the brownie and scraping the bottom of the ice cream bowl.
“I thought you were going to only have a bite?” Our server ribbed us.
“That was a damn lie.” – Us.
If you asked me to meet you at Stumble Inn for a beer and bar food, I’d say sure. Am I going to insist you drive to Bennington to try it out? Probably not. Overall, the food was good, the prices are fair and the portions are generous. I just know where my favorites are concerned, I’ve had better – so Stumble Inn gets a sideways fork from me.
Likewise, Martha doesn’t envision herself driving from Bellevue to Bennington to eat here. But she recognizes its purpose for the Bennington community – local, hot and fresh food, friendly and good value. And for that – she gives Stumble Inn a fork up.
This being our third dine-in post since the start of COVID, we’ve been noting how businesses are implementing safety guidelines. To be transparent, we didn’t see much of that at Stumble Inn. The servers did not wear masks and seating didn’t appear spaced or blocked off, like an X or a sign like some establishments have utilized. Having visited on a slow Tuesday evening, we felt relatively safe. But unless they increase their precautions, we wouldn’t recommend visiting on a busy weekend night if COVID precautions are something of which you’re mindful. To give them a fair shake, we’d recommend you call to inquire and decide for yourself. If you go, let us know how your visit treats you. And by all means – save room for the brownie!
The Good Bite Gals