Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton is beloved for its 250+ surreal sculptures, 42 acres of stunning landscape and gardens and a gorgeous flock of free-roaming peacocks. As if you need another reason to visit, it’s also home to one of the best al fresco restaurants in the country, according to OpenTable.
Rat’s Restaurant, named for a character in the founder’s favorite childhood book Wind in the Willows, will transport you straight to northern France. OpenTable narrowed down the 2019 list of 100 Best Al Fresco Restaurants in America based on an analysis of more than 12 million (!) reviews of more than 30K US restos submitted by verified diners.
At Rat’s, you can munch on contemporary French fare while taking in views of stunning greenery and a lily pond inspired by Monet’s Water Lilies. An impressionist masterpiece come to life, Rat’s serves up lunch, dinner and brunch. Classic starters include gruyere-topped French onion soup, escargot in garlic butter with toasted baguette and sailor-style mussels in white wine, shallots, butter and thyme.
For your main, consider the steak frites with green peppercorn sauce; coq au vin made with Griggstown chicken, bacon lardon, mushrooms, pearl onions and pommes puree, or potato leek ravioli with crispy leeks and ricotta salata. Kid-friendly options include Rat’s Burger, topped with Vermont cheddar and applewood smoked bacon, three-cheese macaroni gratin and a turkey croissant. Special brunch items include chicken and waffles, a classic eggs benedict, a smoked salmon platter and a frittata with ham, onions and peas.
Whatever you do, don’t miss out on the impressive cocktail menu. Whiskey lovers can order the Peach & Pecan Old Fashioned, made with whiskey, peach puree, Luxardo cherries and black walnut bitters. If you’re going with a group, opt for a pitcher of house sangria, made with sauvignon blanc, elderflower, triple sec, strawberry, blackberry, peach and orange. Beer drinkers can give Ratty’s Shandy a go, made with citron, Stella Artois, house lemonade and charred lemon. Go for Happy Hour from 4-7 pm Tuesday through Friday.
Expect a longer wait if you want to eat outside without a reservation. Guests can eat at Rat’s without paying admission to Grounds for Sculpture, but we think it’s so worth it to do both. Grounds for Sculpture is located at 80 Sculptors Way in Hamilton. Rat’s is located at 16 Fairgrounds Rd. in the same town. Reserve online or check out the event calendar to find out about barbecues, clambakes and more.