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Pickity Place in Mason, N.H.: 5-Course Lunch, Gift Shop, Colorful Gardens, Museum at Little Red Riding Hood's Grandmother's House

Article and photos (unless otherwise noted) by Eric Hurwitz. Page created on 9/26/17.


 Little Red Riding Hood's Grandmother's House at Pickity Place in Mason, New Hampshire.
Grandmother's House at Pickity Place in Mason -- the inspiration for the 1948 version of "Little Red Riding Hood."

It would be safe to say that Pickity Place, in Mason, N.H., stands as the world's only destination where you can enjoy a five-course gourmet meal, gift shop, greenhouse, extensive gardens and Little Red Riding House Museum.

Over the Souhegan River and through the woods in the scenic hills of southern New Hampshire leads to the end of a dirt path where suddenly previous scenes of rural isolation and lack of anyone in sight leads to a relatively-speaking popular boom. A filled-to-capacity parking lot with crowds of people walking in one direction suggests something interesting could be happening down the road.

Entrance to Pickity Place in Mason, N.H.
Approaching the remotely located Pickity Place in Mason.

Something amazing is more like it. On first view, the sight of a quaint, old red cottage juxtaposed with a huge white ash tree, colorful flowers everywhere, lush green grounds and meandering paths justifies the long drive, as well as challenging the GPS possibly unlike ever before when arriving at a New England travel destination.

Pickity Place is simply a magical place and one that represents the best of quintessential New England travel. It is much more than a restaurant and gift shop as that little red cottage dates back to 1786 and is best known as the model for illustrations for Elizabeth Orton Jones' 1948 version of "Little Red Riding Hood" through Little Golden Books -- a popular series of children's books. To see that red house up front and close is just an amazing feeling as it connects a beloved childhood book with an actual location. Although clearly a fictional story, the presence of the grandmother's home seems so real -- like the cartoon wolf is about to jump out, transform into the real world, and do something nefarious. Interesting anecdote: The white ash tree, which appears in Jones' book, is the largest of its kind in New Hampshire!

The largest white ash tree in New Hampshire is located at Pickity Place in Mason, New Hampshire.
Pickity Place main building and big white ash tree.

The first step into the red cottage takes one back to a simpler time and place with its ancient wood design, a quiet nature with no loud background music and tour guides with amped up microphones. On the other hand, the sweet aroma of the refreshing country air permeates into the home where a lovely older woman named Roxanne greets people like a grandmother welcoming in family. Virtually all at once, she somehow converses with customers, takes phone calls and writes down various forms of administrative information while maintaining perhaps the kindest personality for a hostess or greeter that I have ever experienced in New England.

Roxanne at Pickity Place in Mason, N.H.
Roxanne handles a phone call at the waiting area.

A familiar scene immediately catches the eye to the left of the reception desk: a wolf with grandma's laced cap tucked under the covers in a big four-poster bed in the Little Red Riding Hood Museum room. Little Red Riding Hood books, collectibles and a table (where a lucky guest can enjoy a meal) surround the room that wonderfully captures the spirit of the 17th century story and its many worthy contemporary versions.

Wolf under covers at Little Red Riding Hood Museum at Pickity Place in Mason, N.H.
Wolf at Little Red Riding Hood Museum at Pickity Place.

Little Red Riding Hood Museum collectibles at Pickity Place in Mason NH
Collectibles at the Little Red Riding Hood Museum in Mason.

Many consider the five-course meal the highlight of the Pickity Place experience, and that is certainly justified. Restaurant goers could certainly pay more than $100 for an "upscale" meal and a heaping side-dish of attitude in the city where, on the other hand, $21.95 will get you friendly folks at Pickity Place serving you an absolutely delicious meal based on what's available seasonally in the world of locally-sourced foods, herbs and edible flowers (yes, edible flowers!). Three sittings take place for lunch, and the waiting list can be long, so it is best to call ahead. On a summer-like September day, I thoroughly enjoyed a homemade vegetable soup, Caesar salad with shaved cheese and fabulous large crouton, fresh-baked rolls with orange honey butter, fig stuffed pork with applewood and brandy glaze with seasonal vegetables and, for dessert, a peanut butter lava cake. Best meal I've had at a restaurant in a long time!

Fig stuffed pork with applewood and brandy glaze from Pickity Place in Mason, New Hampshire
Fig stuffed pork with applewood and brandy glaze with seasonal vegetables at Pickity Place.

"We were farm-to-table before anyone knew about farm to table," said Keith Grimes, who with his wife Kim, have owned Pickity Place for many years. "We are the original farm-to-table restaurant!"

The dining room soothes and relaxes the dining patron with a few dimly-lit, charming dining rooms (one with Little Red Riding Hood's cape hanging on the wall, and the fireplace that appears in Jones' book), a sunny side room overlooking gardens, and even a table at the Museum (just don't "wolf" down your food, though!)...

Charming fireplaced dining room at Pickity Place in Mason, N.H.
Dining room at Pickity Place.

Sun room at Pickity Place's restaurant in Mason, N.H.
Sunny side dining room overlooking gardens at Pickity Place.

Dining table at Pickity Place's Little Red Riding Hood Museum in Mason, N.H.
Dining table at Little Red Riding Hood Museum.

Keith and Kim purchased Pickity Place from its previous owner in 2000 after Keith had served as chef there since 1995. With that experience, as well as culinary training from Johnson and Wales College in Providence, R.I., and meaningful employment at the famous, former Pillar House in Newton, Mass., Keith leads the culinary vision today at Pickity Place, while Kim does the purchasing. Together, their bond as loving husband and wife along with a love for the place they own and its customers create the magical fabric that brings people from all over the world to this hilltop hideaway at the end of a "winding dirt road."

Kim and Keith Grimes, owners of Pickity Place in Mason, N.H.
Kim and Keith Grimes, owners of Pickity Place.

"It is a destination," said Kim, of Pickity Place. "People come here for us as there's not a lot to do in the area. We see a lot of people from Connecticut, as well as Boston. We do get visitors from places as far away as Germany. This is where they want to be when visiting the region... the food, the gift shop, gardens, or just to relax for several hours. They don't want to leave."

Kim added, "We are reaching more millennial too, and people are not afraid to come out here in the snow."

Keith, a Watertown, Mass., native and Kim -- a former teacher with mid-western roots -- have such passion for their business and its idyllic location that they soon plan to build a home on the premises.

"I don't miss the noise, the neighbors, everything on top of you in the city," said Kim. "It is just so lovely out here."

The short commute will fit in with their long-time love for the property and business, according to Keith.

"It's what I do, what I love and never really call it work," said Keith, of Pickity Place. "I love creating food. It's just as hard to do something crappy as to do it well. I choose to do something well. Everything on the menu that you eat was made today or last night."

Keith Grimes creates in the kitchen at Pickity Place in Mason, N.H.
Keith working in the kitchen at Pickity Place. Photo credit: Pickity Place web site.

Locally sourced meal from Pickity Place in Mason, N.H.
The kind of wonderful meal you can expect from Pickity Place. Photo credit: Pickity Place web site.

The Pickity Place gift shop comprises about half the business, according to Keith, and offers an inviting, rustic post-and-beam look with herbs and spices, herbal blends, beverages, dips, books including cookbooks and Little Red Riding Hood, and a nice variety of other gifts.

Gift shop at Pickity Place in Mason, N.H.
Gift shop at Pickity Place.

Herbal blends at the Pickity Place Gift Shop in Mason, N.H.
Seasoning blends from the Pickity Place Gift Shop.

Gifts at Pickity Place Gift Shop in Mason, N.H.
A nice rustic gift shop scene at Pickity Place.

Just down the path from the restaurant and gift shop is a drying shed for herbs, as well as a greenhouse with an impressive array of plants.

Herb drying shed at Pickety Place in Mason, N.H.
Drying shed at Pickity Place.

Drying herbs at Pickity Place in Mason NH.
Inside the Drying Shed at Pickity Place.

Greenhouse at Pickity Place, Mason N.H.
Greenhouse at Pickity Place.

While the restaurant and gift shop create the majority of the business side of Pickity Place, it is the surrounding gardens and other scenic expressions that offer an oasis that is often so hard to find in an amped up, fast-paced world. It is no wonder people stay for a while, and then some...

Flowers line alongside a walking path at Pickity Place in Mason, N.H.
Flowers lining alongside a path at Pickity Place.

Gardens at Pickity Place in Mason, N.H.
One of the many gardens at Pickity Place.

Fall at Pickity Place in Mason, N.H.
Fall scene at Pickity Place.

Butterfly garden at Pickity Place in Mason NH
Butterfly garden at Pickity Place.

Pickity Place butterfly garden in Mason, N.H.
The Butterfly Garden at Pickity Place offers some nice design touches.

Relaxing at Pickity Place in Mason, N.H.
A nice way to relax and commune with nature at Pickity Place.

Pickity Place surely brings one back to when times were simple, and the feeling is overwhelmingly heartwarming and memorable. If I had to choose one small business travel destination in New England that visitors could see to truly appreciate the region, it would be Pickity Place. It's hidden, welcoming, traditional, historic, scenic, relaxing, rustic and with delicious foods and wonderful regional gifts. Those unforgettable elements at Pickity Place certainly represent the best of New England travel.

Pickity Place is located at 248 Nutting Hill Rd., Mason NH. Tel. 603-878-1151. Web Site: https://www.pickityplace.com/. Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/pickityplace

Need a place to stay not too far from Pickity Place? Check out the Benjamin Prescott Inn in Jaffrey, N.H.


Pickity Place sign, Mason, New Hampshire
Pickity Place sign. Photo credit: Pickity Place web site.

Before heading back to the New Hampshire travel page, check out this seasonal menu at Pickity Place!

Pickity Place seasonal menu for 2017

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