The Reluctant Panther Restaurant
We had one of the most perfect meals in a long time at this restaurant. Everything was perfect - and that’s really saying something. The interior is elegant but in a very spare way. Our server was attentive, funny and knowledgeable. Food - the food was terrific, from the Middlebury Blue cheese cheesecake (which was a truly divine appetizer) to the main courses (beef rib on mashed potatoes and scallops - both perfect), all the way through our desert (a chocolate flourless torte), the meal seemed perfectly paced and effortlessly great. We are very experienced diners in exceptional restaurants and this experience was way up there on the list of the finest meals ever. I also have to comment on the wine list which was good (not great, but well-chosen) but particularly that their mark-up is fair, generally in the 2x to 2 1/2 x range. When I see restaurants that mark a $15 bottle to $55 or so that is when I know I’m being gouged. Not so at Reluctant Panther. We were so impressed and wish we lived closer than 2500 miles away - rest assured, our next trip to Vermont will include a visit to Reluctant Panther.
A must whilst in Manchester! Highly recommend the food was fantastic - wine selection perfect and staff very friendly and accommodating. Thank you!
Fabulous restaurant! All the food was very fresh and prepared to perfection. The waiter, Hunter, was very attentive without hovering and offered great suggestions - very professional service. If ever in Manchester again we would definately return to this restaurant.
Amazing food and wine, very expensive but worth it.
Expensive for the size and quality of the meals. For example, The gem salad consisted of 2 leaves of Romaine, a small Spanish anchovy and thin Caesar dressing. The short rib entree was 3 small slices of short rib on a smear of mashed potatoes accompanied with several small charred Brussels sprouts. The apple dessert was flavorless.
We rarely leave a restaurant without a small thought about something that could be improved. Not this time - the Reluctant Panther was simply perfect. From the host's greeting to the service to the delicious (and beautifully plated) food to the pacing of the meal (not too slow, but not too fast), it was a delightful experience. We will definitely go back.
Compared to other restaurants in Manchester that we enjoyed during our recent trip, the Reluctant Panther just didn't meet or exceed expectations. We arrived 20 minutes early for our 8:30 reservation and proceeded to wait for 5 minutes alone at the reception podium while staff moved about. When someone did come to help us, he informed us that we were early and that our table would not be ready until 8:30 (despite four clearly empty tables immediately behind him). We presumed that this was a staffing issue, which would have been fine, but rather than just offering this or some other explanation, we were made to feel as though we were an inconvenience. No suggestion begin given, we asked if we should instead have a seat at the (empty) bar in the meantime. With no cocktail menu and a fairly standard selection of liquors, I settled for a dirty martini that was somewhat lacking when it came to the brine. As for the meal, it had its highlights and its disappointments. The lobster and brie fondue was amazing, as was the bread course. But the portion size on the short ribs was relatively small (not quite two full short rib pieces) and the veal chop was particularly fatty (nearly 1/3 was left on the plate - all fat). Overall it wasn't a bad experience, but it was not a positively memorable meal either. If in the area again, we will almost certainly choose other very nearby locations where the experience was much more enjoyable. (Of note, our waitress was actually really great - pleasant, happy, insightful about recommendations, attentive - but the service rating reflects the gentleman who initially set the tone at reception and at the bar. Perhaps it was just a frustrating night, staffing, etc... but it certainly affected our experience.)
My husband and I enjoyed every bite of our meals. We split the signature appetizer: a brie and lobster fondue, which was absolutely amazing. Our entrees were delightful, and the dessert was pure bliss. We will be sure to be back the next time we are in town. Be sure to make reservations. I saw several people turned away who were showing up asking for a table. We were there on a holiday weekend and they were booked up the entire time. I'm so glad I made a reservation when I did.
Absolutely the best dining experience we have had in recent years!
Very nice dinner after traveling to VT. Len was an attentive server. Enjoyed short ribs raised locally with mashed potatoes and fresh green beans. Good wine selection. Desert for us was blueberry ice cream. Quiet atmosphere. Lovely inn operated by friendly people
Truly inspired food. I knew it was going to be a good meal when they brought the bread, and I was like I could just eat this all night. Excellent traditional fare (meat and seafood). Worth a visit anytime you're in Manchester Vt. (a 2 hour drive for us).
Excellent wait staff, attentive but not intrusive. Food is excellent, especially the risotto and the fillet mignon. Quiet enough to hold an intimate conversation. Highly recommend.
Wet salad. Grit in clam dish and mushroom dish. Alcohol not cooked out of mushrooms in risotto. Sent back. Just hotter. Cook apparently thought reheat could remove alcohol mushrooms absorbed. Person in kitchen not up to the task. Still charged for inedible risotto. Remarkably disastrous.
Supurb dining experience. Attentive, professional service. Wonderful, creative dishes. Will definitely come again.
Quite possibly my favorite restaurant in Vermont and that's saying a lot. The service is always wonderful, the dining room is lovely and the food is amazing.
The Reluctant Panther is our favorite restaurant in Southern Vermont! Beautiful dining room and terrific service (attentive and responsive but not fawning). Most of all, the food is delicious. Great menu with lots of choices I could enjoy (which means we’ll have to come back)! The preparation of each dish was magnificent - fresh,tasty ingredients, well executed sauces and beautiful presentation. Bravo!!
Dining in the evening was excellent. Food was prepared with care. My wife and I were impressed with the dishes we had chosen and the service was appropriate for a luxury inn. On the other hand, breakfast did not meet the standard expected. The eggs benedict for example were poorly prepared with an under cooked muffin and very little sauce. Strength of the coffee varied. For the evening meal it was strong, but at breakfast relatively weak.
Fantastic food, wine and service, so sorry we didn’t stay in this wonderful place too
Outstanding food and service, very creative menu, can't wait to have another occasion to eat at The Reluctant Panther.
We travelled to the Equinox Hotel for a weekend getaway. The Reluctant Panther was a brief walk from the hotel and upon our inquiry about fine dining, all recommendations included this restaurant. Upon arrival at the restaurant, we were greeted by a very friendly staff member. The gracious and friendly (but unobtrusive) service continued throughout the well-timed dining experience. The menu was varied and interesting and our meals were exceptionally well prepared. When in Manchester, this restaurant is not to be missed. What a gem!
Great service, cocktails, and desert. Waiter opened a special wine bottle that was lovely after we balked an the first. Thank you very much. I wish I could laud the main entrees which were fair.
dinning at this establishment was a real treat and a total joy..the food was as advertised the service was above and beyond every single person in the wait staff serviced us...did not have to wait for our server that took our order everyone that passed by did a fantastic job...i would total recommend this restaurant to and inn to every one that would listen outstanding ...
Perfect combination of superb food and service with a friendly and unhurried atmosphere. Will be back again.
We had an incredible meal. Wonderful food (best risotto either of us had ever tasted) and great atmosphere. We started with the local cheese board, which had creative and intentional pairings, and then the risotto and ribs, both were excellent.
Fabulous. The chef was amazing and accommodated my Gluten Free issues perfectly!!!
Gluten Free options!!!
Great food and service...certainly worth return visits which is our intention
Nice ambiance and food. A bit pricey. Very good service
Room is lovely. Food is excellent. Service is attentive yet occasionally forgetful. Lovely wine list. One issue. On a $200 bill for 2 people getting charged an extra $2 for bread for the fondue was insulting.
Superb ambience and service. Main courses lacked flavor. Desserts were outstanding
As visitors from New York, for our 50th wedding anniversary celebration my family, wife & I chose this restaurant as we heard it "was one of the best in the Manchester area"! SPOT ON!! Their service (from a unique lobster cream appetizer to an incredible chocolate mousse tart dessert) was "always the customer FIRST"! The food was delicious; one of the best filet mignon I have ever enjoyed in ANY restaurant! Their wine list (although somewhat pricy) was both extensive & very complete. We never felt "rushed" between courses as the timing from the kitchen to the table was right on cue! This restaurant was a perfect destination for any special occasion as we delightfully discovered! The Panther is not just any upscale restaurant; it is rather an A+ gastronomic eating experience not to be forgotten! Whenever you're in the Manchester VT region, be sure to reserve a table at the Reluctant Panther! Trust us, you WILL NOT be disappointed!! We will next time we're back in that area!
We went for my husbands birthday. I was the most amazing restaurant, service & food were phenomenal.
Wish we lived closer, we would be there weekly. Unfortunately we live in Florida.
Next summer, again.
Spectacular meal. We enjoyed every morsel.
This was one of the best meals we have had in a very long time. Everything about the evening was perfect. The choices of food were interesting, with unusual but delicious combinations of flavors. Our waiter was attentive but not hovering.
I would give this meal a 10+ and wish we had gone back again for another meal.
Food was prepared perfectly and presented beautifully.
The chef strives to emphasize local and seasonal ingredients, sometimes gilding the lily. The lavender pavlova was phenomenal. The staff was super attentive and informed. The dining room is lovely.
Wonderful dinner - everything was simply amazing - hope to be back
Ate here with my Mum and a wonderful experience. The service was EXEMPLARY and the food, yummy. We highly recommend the chicken & chicken sausage dish.
This restaurant is located within an attractive, upscale Inn. It is a quiet, relatively small dining room...nicely appointed, leaning toward the formal (although people were dressed from fairly casual to nicely dressed). The service was very good but the food was disappointing. For the prices, it was average tasting. The soup of the day we had, mushroom and ramps with creme fraiche was rather sour and needed seasoning. The entree portions were small...I had the poached lobster. The lobster itself tasted good...but there wasn’t much to it. It came with tasteless black rice. My husband had swordfish...one OK sized filet which he said was good, not great, and came with tasteless polenta. We chose not to have desert. We saw other patrons’ deserts and they were tiny and costly. We did have coffee....served out of a French press. It tasted rich, but was just warm, not nice and hot. We had heard about this restaurant and expected more!
My husband and I are expecting our second child in a couple of weeks so we wanted to go out for one last date night just the two of us before the madness starts again. The Reluctant Panther was the perfect spot for this special night. Almost impossible to choose from their incredible menu, everything from start to finish was delicious and beautifully presented. The service was perfect, prompt but not rushed, familiar while still giving us our space to feel like it was just the two of us. I highly recommend this restaurant for any special occasion and for anyone looking for an outstanding meal. Thank you for giving us such a memorable night.