The sign at exit 4 off Interstate 95 in central Vermont says food and fuel; the unexpected surprise is the 200-year-old farmhouse that awaits a few hundred yards off the highway in Putney.

It is the Putney Inn, and instead of the usual overpriced greasy hamburger one learns to tolerate when traveling, one can enjoy reasonably priced hearty fare, including a steak sandwich, the catch of the day and truly good burgers.

The large dining room accommodates 350, so there's rarely a wait for a seat below flourishing plants hanging from original wood beams. In the lounge are an open hearth and many artifacts dating from the earliest owners. Every day there are a homemade soup and dessert available, and a small but pleasant selection of wines.

Specialties include Roast Vermont turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce; maple mousse and maple walnut pie (both made with the famous Vermont maple syrup); and Indian pudding, an old American cornmeal-based recipe made with molasses, cinnamon and ginger.

The inn is open year round, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily (it also has overnight accommodations in a separate, newer building). Even the rest rooms are charming, with country flower curtains and wallpaper. A welcome change from the traditional gas station stop.