Arts and Eats: White River Craft Center and Saap Restaurant

Being on an art hunt can leave a person hungry. From time to time, people ask me why, if this blog is primarily about the arts, I sometimes write about food. Chances are that I have discovered these restaurants, food trucks, farms, and espresso bars on trips to find art galleries, theater productions, and public sculpture. And I am often famished. 

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I wish I might have had the brilliant idea to combine arts and eats in a single building. The White River Craft Center and Saap Restaurant are under one roof in the Kimball House at 50 Randolph Avenue in Randolph VT. (As an aside, I once lived in a sweet little apartment on that same street, less than a half-block away. Kimball House might then have been a nursing home, or maybe even just a vacant old girl in need of some TLC. It has a long and varied story.) Now, restored with just the right amount of historical creakiness, it is an arts center. 

Construction Worker, 2007

Jack Rowell’s photographs are on exhibition in a retrospective of his work spanning decades. The exhibition is scattered through various rooms and hallways throughout the center, sometimes in multipurpose rooms, like the one in which we browsed the walls even as a town government meeting was in the process of adjourning. Rowell loves Vermont and it would seem, Vermonters. Most of the photographs are in black and white, showing Vermonters at physical labor or at informal play outdoors and in. Some are close ups of soulful faces. Rumor has it that Rowell had no formal training in photography, “just” a good eye. What an eye it is. 

Myra Flynn by Jack Rowell

Around the corner in its own wing of the building, Saap Restaurant serves the cuisine of northern Thailand. Steve Morgan, a professional chef, and his wife Rung Morgan have been cooking and serving together at Saap for three years. The menu finds a balance between real Thai dishes and Western palates. Without sacrificing any authenticity, Steve says he and his wife have tried to select foods from her native country “that Americans would enjoy.” You will find things on the menu that you have probably not seen in most Thai restaurants. At lunch, every dish was prepared to order, flavorful, and reasonably priced. Service was gracious.

Tea and freshly squeezed limeade. Not an Arnold Palmer, but a Tiger Woods.

Post-lunch, another look at Jack Rowell’s photographs was the perfect dessert. 

For more information about the White River Craft Center, please click here. For a peek at Saap Restaurant’s menu and hours, click here. 

Jack Rowell's website is here.


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