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Tim D

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Posts posted by Tim D

  1. It's been a while since I visited a couple of these places, but all have stellar reputations, and all use local ingredients:

    The Alchemist in Waterbury for really great Microbrews and tasty small plates.

    The Black Sheep Bistro in Vergennes

    Smokejacks in Burlington

    Starry Night Cafe in Ferrisburgh

    Taste in Burlington

    Pick up a 'Seven Nights', it's a free restaurant guide, available almost everywhere.

    I may be mistaken but I had heard that the Farmer's Diner was closed. Please correct me if I'm wrong. And finally, for the record, pretty much everything in Vermont is within one hour of Warren. :biggrin:

  2. Have to strongly disagree with the Rouques suggestion. 4 of us ate there over Xmas and had a very mediocre meal. The margaritas lacked tequila, the salsa lacked spice, the chips were greasy, the guacamole was blender-blah, all entrees were Chi-Chi's-esque---the only good thing we had was some decent pork on the nachos. And by the way, we only got nachos because of a major lack of interesting apps--cheese fundido, quesadillas, nachos...blah.

    Single Pebble, Smokejack's, Kitchen Table, Cafe Shelburne--these are better bets.

    I have to admit that my last (and probably final) trip to Rouques left a lot to be desired. I was really pulling for them and but I've got to agree with sara and take back my recomendation. Too bad though, it had a lot of promise. I guess now we'll have to wait until Miguel's opens up on the Marketplace, but that's a real long shot as well.

    Single Pebble and Smokejacks still top the list.

  3. Rouques in Burlington

    Tell me about this one. I don't know it. Thanks!

    It's on the Burlington waterfront at the base of Main St. (where Mona's was located). When you walk in there is a window into the kitchen and you can watch a cook making fresh corn tortillas. That is a really good indication as to what kind of quality we are talking about.

    The menu fancy's itself a 'regional' Mexican one, and you'll find plenty of delicious traditional options. The guacamole is one exceptional stand out, and I highly recommend it. And IMHO it's as close to 'authentic' Mexican as we've ever seen in Burlington. If it can stand up to the test of time it will become second only to Single Pebble, for recomended reservations in town.

  4. I got this book a week or so ago, and can't wait to start cooking. So far the only think I've tried, is making stock. The way Bourdain went on about making your own stock, I figured it was time to get off my ass, and make my own for the first time. I made the demi-glace (which I think turned out well...honestly I've never made it so how would I know), and a beef stock which smells awesome, but I still need to reduce it a bit.

    I'm with you. I cannot wait to get some bones and throw together a demi. It's been a few years since I made one as well and I look forward to the process. I was close to selling my chest freezer, but now I can see that it's going to come in very handy for storing bones and ultimately finished product. I've decided to host T-giving this year solely so I can cook recipes out of this book for my family and the 'out-laws'.

    IMHO - Brenner is a medicore writer at best, so it's not too far of a stretch to believe that her skills in the kitchen might cause a guest to gag. :rolleyes:

  5. Black Sheep in Vergennes

    Eat Good Food in Vergennes

    Mist Grill in Waterbury

    Chef's Table in Richmond

    Blue Seal also in Richmond

    Single Pebble in Burlington

    Rouques in Burlington

    All very good, all worth checking out if you get a chance.

  6. I just wanted to add that I find this all very fascinating and applaud both Grant and Martin for their truly unique visions. Like everyone else here I am going to be glued to my computer watching the process unfold.

    Best of luck.

  7. Smokejacks is consistantly among the best restaurants in Burlington. I eat there at least 5-6 times a year and have never had a meal that wasn't at least very good. Last week we had dinner with friends and we all ordered a special with LaPlatte River Organic Sirloins on a bed of braised romaine hearts with carmelized onions. It was the best steak I've eaten (not from my own grill :biggrin: ) in a very long time.

    If you can make room the "Smores" dessert is fantastic.

    As an aside we ate at The Iron Wolf a couple of weeks ago and the food was terrible, and the service even worse. Despite the fact that downtown was teeming with crowds for the Jazzfest, the Iron Wolf was empty! We were one of only four tables for the entire evening. We waited almost an hour between apps and the arrival of our entrees! This once outstanding establishment has fallen and it can't get up.

  8. As an attorney, I love this show. It conclusively demonstrates that people in the restaurant business are way lower on the evolutionary chain than lawyers. (Sure, advertising, insurance, child pornographers and politicians are also beneath us.)

    You just keep telling yourself that, it obviously makes you feel better. :wink:

  9. Even though it defintely needs improvement and the end result was strange to say the least. I am hopeful that it will become something worth watching. It was head and shoulders above the other American IC's and the now infamous Morimoto vs. Flay battle.

    Alton was fine, but he must have a foil to his banter, otherwise it becomes overly simplistic.

    Is it possible that Sakai was short a dish and couldn't have beaten Flay because of that handicap? I am not 100% sure but I thought that Sakai only had four plates, so his score couldn't add up to victory. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

  10. I started in 1980 in Vermont and have since lived all over the country and to be honest, there is hardly a place in the country that couldn't use a "new (insert cusine here) restaurant".

    I do agree with the multiple revenue streams idea. You always need to have something to fall back on, when the slow times come, and they will come.

    Retail is just as hard as food service in many ways, and my (and my wife's) experience in the heat of battle has served us well. Someday we might open a little spot, but more than likely we'll open some kind of wholesale production type of business. Mo money, less hours.

  11. Nice addition to the thread; Tim D.

    I hope you are not completely jaded about your restaurant experience??

    I have been there a few times my-self, so I understand the scenario.


    Thanks stovetop. I'm not jaded, just very cautious. In fact I've been approached several times over the past few years to become a partner in one venture or another and it is always very tempting, but so far I've managed to stay clear.

    I've often compared being an ex-restaurant worker to being an alcoholic, every morning I get up and have the same conversation in my head:" I will not go back into the restaurant business today, I will not go back . . .". It's worked well so far, but a 'relapse' is always a possibility :smile:

    Having said that, if someone feels that they too have heard the call of the kitchen, and they have done lots of research (why is it that there are no breakfast places in your neighborhood?) than I will always pull for them. I'm always the first in line to support a new local business.

  12. After enduring 18 long years in the restaurant business, my wife and I left to find a more reasonable way to make a living. To that end we opened a small retail store that has nothing at all to do with food. This decision saved both our relationship and our financial lives. As business owners we work long hours, under some of the same stresses found in the restaurant business. But, the crucial difference is that we can control our destiny to a much greater degree than can a restaurant owner. No one will ever get food poisoning from us, nor will alcohol casue any lawsuits at worst, or hard feelings at the least. Nor will our employees be tempted to rob us blind whenever our backs are turned.

    There have been some very good points brought up on this thread, and I would like to just add this; To open any business at all, you must decide that you will live every day, seven days a week, 24 hours a day thinking about your business. The ability to relax and forget about your business for even a minute is a extremely rare occurance. If deep down inside you feel that opening a business is your destiny than have at it, but be forewarned, there is no turning back once the genie is out of the bottle.

  13. Britvic India Tonic is the best I've found. Nice flavour, contains quinine, not too sweet, no HFCS. Made in UK, available in Europe and here in Hong Kong, but not sure if you can get it in the USA. It comes in one-drink size cans, rather than cola-size cans - perfect for mixing. Makes a bigger difference in the taste of a G+T than the choice of gin.


    - Hong Kong Dave

    Thanks for the recomendation, I'll just have to see if it's available in the states.

  14. I've tried a few 'mineral waters' (I've forgotten the names at the moment) and had moderate success, but it would be great to have a true Quinine Tonic Gin and tonic. I agree, the G&T in the US are like drinking gin flavored soda. Way too sweet.

  15. I've noticed that the vast majority of Tonic waters on the market include High Fructose Corn Syrup, which it seems to me, is an uneccessary addition. I've tried a few sparkling waters in my gin and tonics and they seem to be a descent substitute. But, I was wondering if anyone had a recommedation for a good replacement for the HFCS ladden tonics on the market today.


  16. Still there, still good. Friends who are Vietnamese are a little dismissive of it as "viet-lite", but hell, for Essex Jct, Vermont it's pretty good, to say the least. I haven't eaten there since last summer and now that you've reminded me I'm going to have to make a special trip.

    There's a new gourmet food store opening in the old Phil's trading post space downtown, so keep a look out for that as well.

  17. I spent 4 years in Burlington as a student at UVM, and I've been back many times since

    And you never stop in and see me :wink:

    I'll only go back there if someone helps me figure out how to game the waiting situation: early, late, whatever. I wouldn't say it's the only place for breakfast, though. Sneakers in Winooski is, in my opinion, better. And, while not in the same gourmet-breakfast catgegory, Libby's Blue Line Diner in Colchester is one of the finest examples of that species in existence

    Both Libbys and Sneakers have slipped a little over the past few years. They are still decent but nowhere near as good as Penny Cluse. As for timing go early or late but NEVER on weekends.

    I'm afraid I can't support any of the Eastern recommendations like Five Spice, India House, and Peking Duck house. I'm not sure where you're traveling from, Alan, but if you're accustomed to eating Asian and Indian cuisines in any major metro area you're not likely to be impressed by Burlington's renditions, which are acceptable but not particularly strong.

    India house has (as of Nov. '03) a new Indian chef who is very talented and the food has really improved. As for Asian food, the best restaurant in Burlington (IMHO) is A Single Pebble which happens to be a Chinese restaurant. There are NO other substitutes. Peking duck, Five spice, etc. are very tired old warhorses, and they really can't compare.

    Note also that Burlington is less than a 90 minute drive from Montreal. I would consider a pilgrimage to Toque! or something of that nature one evening. Even if Burlington experiences significant and sustained economic expansion for the foreseeable future, it will probably be another decade or two before the town can support a restaurant on par with the top Montreal places.

    I am constantly bombarded with offers of partnership in new restaurant ventures (A noodle shop, a regional Mexican restaurant, a 'real' Jewish deli, etc, etc.) in Burlington, and I turn every one of them down. I would never open a restaurant here, despite my love for the area, there is not enough demand for a true fine dining experience (or even just simply a new idea). We will always end up in Montreal (or NYC) when we want 'the real deal'. The closest thing here to a truly new idea is The Mist Grill in Waterbury or Sauza's (a Brazilian restaurant) in Burlington and for a true fine dining experience either Opaline in Burlington or the Cafe Shelburne in Shelburne.

    Having said all this I still recommend a visit to VT if nothing else than for the cheese and the beer :biggrin: . The scenery is fantastic and you can always find a reason to stay for dinner.

  18. 1. A Single Pebble (don't miss this, get a reservation ahead, it's well worth it),

    2. Opaline

    3. Koto (Japanese Steak House, with the best sushi in town)

    4. Penny Cluse is the ONLY place in Burlington to go for breakfast. Period.

    5. Al's French Fries (cooked in lard, the old fashioned way)

    6. The Daily Planet

    7. Trattoria Delia

    8. India House

    9. SmokeJacks

    10. Leunig's (So-so service but o.k. food and great location)

    Skip NECI's restaurants, they can be good, but more often than not the service is far better than the food.

    There is a bounty of very good eating to be had in Burlington, but if you'd like to remain out of town, try The Mist Grill in Waterbury, The Chef's Table in Richmond, the Black Sheep Cafe in Vergennes, or the Bobcat Cafe in Bristol. Depending which town you are staying in, your hosts should be familiar with at least one or two of these spots.

    FYI - most Vermonters avoid Stowe like the plague. If you find yourself there, try Miguel's or The Olde English Pub (I forgot the name).

    Hope that helps.

  19. I've been drawn to it over the years, first in an after-shift social way. Then in a morbid curiosity way and finally in a "Why is there so much crap on FTV these days? I guess it's Iron Chef or nothing" kinda way.

    Now if it's on I'll watch it for a little while, but it's falling fast from my viewing patterns. As is the vast majority of FTV shows.

  20. Nigella, Ming, Julia, Chef School, Epicurious, Great Chefs, (that show on A&E whose name I've forgotten) and not one gawd-damned FTV show. I even took FTV off my 'favorites' button, I'm so sick of all the crap they have on now, I mean who the hell is watching a friggin' 'unwrapped' marathon or even one episode of 'date plate', or Dweezil and Lisa, or Racheal Ray . . . How depressing.

  21. I used to be a fan, but now I'm more inclined to think the show has lost some of it's appeal. I found some of the cooking tips from his show useful, though in general I tend to think he's run out of ideas. But maybe that's just me.

  22. Many Japanese blades are beveled only on one side as opposed to the typical "V "of a European knife. Almost all Japanese blades are razor thin and therefore sometimes less durable than a stout German blade, but they cut better. It's a personal preference issue.

    I like Lamson Sharp myself (made in the USA). But I've got dozens of knives from all over, so it would be hard to pick a favorite.

    Start with German and then work your way around the world :smile:

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