The Hippo


Jul 22, 2019








Innkeeper Jeff Brechb├╝hl and chef Bruce Barnes stand on the porch at Colby Hill Inn and The Grazing Room in Henniker. Allie Ginwala photo.

Coming up at Colby Hill Inn and The Grazing Room

Feb. 21 Sunday suppers begin, offering a three-course meal for $19.95
March 27 On Easter, Sunday brunches open to the public
April 22 On Earth Day, The Grazing Room is formally launched
May 20 Check out a wedding murder mystery weekend

New inn town
Henniker inn and restaurant welcomes new owners

By Allie Ginwala

 Earlier this month, Colby Hill Inn (33 The Oaks St.) in Henniker changed hands after 15 years when Cyndi and Mason Cobb handed over the keys to new owners Jeff Brechbühl and Bruce Barnes. Brechbühl and Barnes sat down with the Hippo days after taking over the historic property to talk about what brought them from Washington, D.C., to New England, their vision for the inn and new restaurant and the mutually beneficial relationship they hope to establish with the town of Henniker.

Why NH?
“We wanted to find a location that was within an arm’s reach of a major population,” said Barnes, chef-proprietor, who most recently was senior executive chef at the World Bank in D.C., where he oversaw daily food service to more than 6,000 guests. “We’re literally an hour and 30 minutes from Boston, we’re four hours from New York, 25 minutes from Concord and 40 minutes from Manchester. There is the population out there and there’s people that we can make a draw to.” 
“Our goal is to become a dining destination,” Brechbühl added. 
He owned a health food and catering business in D.C. for over seven years and has experience in nonprofit work and community outreach.
“We both kind of just up and left our jobs and kind of just took a leap of faith. … This property, it has everything that we were looking for and I think Henniker has a lot of potential,” Barnes said. “There is a lot going on around here within arm’s reach and we’re hoping that we can bring business to Henniker.”
Introducing The Grazing Room
Finding a property with a restaurant was essential for Brechbühl and Barnes, who have already started to revamp the food and presentation at The Grazing Room, the newly minted restaurant at Colby Hill Inn.
The concept for The Grazing Room is to use locally sourced products in globally influenced dishes, inspired in part by Barnes’ time at the World Bank. 
“[At] the World Bank there’s 186 member nations, 186 ways of cooking things, so I was really exposed to a lot of different cooking techniques and authentic cooking techniques and that’s kind of what we’re bringing here,” he said. 
He wants to home in on the farm-to-table movement, supporting local businesses and farmers primarily in New Hampshire, but generally within a 150-mile radius that may include Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts.
Nestling global cuisine into a quintessential New England inn setting isn’t without its challenges, like finding ingredients that suit his penchant for cooking with Asian influences. However, when it comes to the basic building blocks of a dish, he’s covered by local hen eggs, duck eggs, pork, fish and grass-fed Black Angus. 
“The basics I have, so we’ll be [figuring out], how can I run the basics and do my Moroccan spiced [dish]?” he said.
The plan for The Grazing Room is to change the menus weekly — a chef tasting menu (with three- or five-course options) and tavern menu, which feature sections “graze,” “nibble,” “feast” and “indulge.” The idea is that one can share their plate or graze with their dining companions. 
“The entree … like a grilled lamb loin … wouldn’t necessarily come with veg and starch,” Barnes said. “It would be a smaller focus on the protein with a complementary side.”
The two would also like to shake up the standard bed-and-breakfast buffet with a four-course, made-to-order meal that starts off with locally brewed coffee, fresh squeezed juice and a basket of their signature goat cheese and black pepper biscuits.
“We’re trying to implement more vegetable and vegetable protein into the breakfast as well so you’ll still get your local maple pork sausage, but you might also be getting a brown rice and cardamom porridge,” Barnes said. 
The breakfast will conclude with a sweet ending that could be anything from a mini waffle or mini crepe with nutella ricotta to mini blinis or a mini maple pancake.
“We don’t want to position [ourselves] as a place you only go once a year, but some place you want to come to and see what’s happening,” Brechbühl said.
In terms of the physical space, the dining room will have an updated yet rustic feel with reclaimed wood tabletops. The dining experience will expand its presence on the property as a whole with the installation of a culinary garden, outdoor eating options and a barn renovation.
“One of the things that kills me is Henniker is such a great location,” Barnes said. “There’s a need for food here and there’s not a lot of options … it’s like, we have this great space, how can we get the local people involved and bring them here? 
Inside the inn
Changes to the inn will mostly be done in the form of upgrades and creating a cohesive theme. One motif will be goats — both in the artwork and with live goats frolicking about the outside property.
They plan to redo the upstairs floors, upgrade the beds, mattress and pillows, expand and redo some of the bathrooms and undergo a general technology upgrade, hopefully completing everything by the start of the summer season.
“We’re also enhancing guest services,”  Brechbühl said, like putting Granite State Candy Shoppe chocolate truffles in each room and offering a coffee service using Keene’s Terra Nova Organic Coffee Roasters at the end of each floor hallway in the mornings.
“Just simple little nuances, little touches,” Barnes added. “We really want to ...  I don’t want to say help Henniker, but we really want to work with them and make it our home for quite some time.” 
“We want it to be a mutually beneficial relationship,” Brechbühl said. 

®2019 Hippo Press. site by wedu