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Burlington Area restaurants


ALANB
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Burlington, Vermont? Now, just west of Burlington is Lake Champlain. Are you staying on a boat? :raz:

If it is Burlington, let me know. You'll have a car, I assume. Are you looking just in town or around the local area, too?

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

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Here are a few ideas for you...

Downtown Burlington:

Trattoria Delia (Italian)

Smokejacks ('Bold American Food')

Five Spice Cafe (Asian, with a great dim sum brunch)

Penny Cluse Cafe, 169 Cherry St. (good breakfast/brunch spot)

Uncommon Grounds, Church Street Marketplace (great coffee)

Shelburne:

Cafe Shelburne (expensive, but delicious French cuisine; if they have duck on the menu, get it!)

Richmond:

The Kitchen Table Bistro(American/country)

Montpelier:

Sarducci's (Italian)

Winooski:

Peking Duck House(really good traditional Chinese)

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

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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.

"An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup." - H. L. Mencken

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I spent 4 years in Burlington as a student at UVM, and I've been back many times since, but my information on the better restaurants in the area is sorely out of date -- I mostly do cheap eats when there. On that front, I'll certainly second the motion in favor of Al's, which is one of the greatest grease joints in the nation. I believe the relevant ingredient is a percentage of beef tallow, rather than lard, in the fries, and they are fried twice in two temperatures of fat. Penny Cluse opened after I graduated, but I've been there twice and agree it's a terrific place for breakfast. Then again I don't know that there exists a terrific enough place for breakfast to justify waiting on such a long line -- 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. 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. Leunig's, which I haven't been to in a few years, used to have some of the best bread pudding around -- I'd go there just for dessert and coffee.

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.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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On that front, I'll certainly second the motion in favor of Al's, which is one of the greatest grease joints in the nation. I believe the relevant ingredient is a percentage of beef tallow, rather than lard, in the fries, and they are fried twice in two temperatures of fat.

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.

Leunig's, which I haven't been to in a few years, used to have some of the best bread pudding around -- I'd go there just for dessert and coffee.

And to think that eGullet has a Groovy UV connection! :raz:

I'll second Fat Guy's praise of Al's French Frys. When I used to live up there, I always enjoyed getting the fries at the local fair. It's well worth a stop for lunch along Williston Road in South Burlington to visit Al's. And don't forget to use some vinegar on 'em!

While I agree that Burlington's ethnic offerings generally aren't on par with the big cities, I'll put in a mild defense of Peking Duck House. It doesn't do anything inventive, but provides solid, reliable Chinese without MSG, I believe. It's been in business in Winooski for at least 15 years now and once impressed my great aunt who was visiting from Queens. That said, Papa Frank's is worth checking out in the same neighborhood for very good pizza.

Leunig's is a good cafe for dessert, for a drink, or to people watch, but you can do much better in the food department.

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

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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.

"An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup." - H. L. Mencken

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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.

"An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup." - H. L. Mencken

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Just back from trip.

We ended up eating at Trattoria Delia- A great wine bar and the food was unusual Italian and delicious.

Went to Single Pebble at 5 and lucked out with a 7:15 reservation. The best chinese food I ever had. Garlic eggplant and chicken dumplings were superb.

Main Street Grill for lunch - great salad. Main dishes arrived before we finished salad, but the food was pretty good and the service very attentive.

Al's Fries - The retro decor didn't make up for the greasy burger and so,so fries.

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Just back from trip.

We ended up eating at Trattoria Delia- A great wine bar and the food was unusual Italian and delicious.

Went to Single Pebble at 5 and lucked out with a 7:15 reservation. The best chinese food I ever had. Garlic eggplant and chicken dumplings were superb.

Glad you enjoyed Trattoria Delia. Thanks for the report on Single Pebble--I'll have to visit when I'm in Vermont in May.

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

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I had an excellent dinner last week at the Black Sheep Bistro in Vergennes (probably about half an hour from Burlington). All appetizers are $5 and all entrees are $15. My sister and I shared an appetizer of lobster ravioli, which was incredible - creamy and sweet but not too rich. I could have made a main course out of that alone! One of the best things I've ever had in a restaurant. There was a little salad of watercress with the ravioli, which had a delicious dressing. For a main course, I had mustard-seed crusted steak in a mushroom wine sauce, which came with a frisee salad with roasted (I think they were roasted) tomatoes. My sister has some kind of glazed salmon (balsamic, maybe?) with an avocado-tomatillo salsa. Both dishes were great, and very large portions. Each table also gets a (free) dish of garlic mashed potatoes and a cone of french fries with basil mayo, garlic mayo and ketchup. The fries were a little underdone for our taste, but the mayos were tasty and the mashed potatoes were wonderful. We couldn't even finish the mashed or fries since the entree portions were so big and so delicious. We were also too full for dessert, so I can't comment on that. However, the service was really friendly, the restaurant was cozy but not too tight, and the food was delivered quickly. Overall, I really enjoyed eating at Black Sheep Bistro, and it was one of the best meals I've had in a while. I haven't eaten out much in Burlington so I can't compare it to anything, but I definitely think it's worth the drive.

Edited by Papaya (log)
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I had an excellent dinner last week at the Black Sheep Bistro in Vergennes (probably about half an hour from Burlington). All appetizers are $5 and all entrees are $15. My sister and I shared an appetizer of lobster ravioli, which was incredible - creamy and sweet but not too rich. I could have made a main course out of that alone! One of the best things I've ever had in a restaurant. There was a little salad of watercress with the ravioli, which had a delicious dressing. For a main course, I had mustard-seed crusted steak in a mushroom wine sauce, which came with a frisee salad with roasted (I think they were roasted) tomatoes. My sister has some kind of glazed salmon (balsamic, maybe?) with an avocado-tomatillo salsa. Both dishes were great, and very large portions. Each table also gets a (free) dish of garlic mashed potatoes and a cone of french fries with basil mayo, garlic mayo and ketchup. The fries were a little underdone for our taste, but the mayos were tasty and the mashed potatoes were wonderful. We couldn't even finish the mashed or fries since the entree portions were so big and so delicious. We were also too full for dessert, so I can't comment on that. However, the service was really friendly, the restaurant was cozy but not too tight, and the food was delivered quickly. Overall, I really enjoyed eating at Black Sheep Bistro, and it was one of the best meals I've had in a while. I haven't eaten out much in Burlington so I can't compare it to anything, but I definitely think it's worth the drive.

Did you have a reservation? How far in advance did you make it?

We pass through Vergennes every few months & have been dying to try the Black Sheep, but on the two occasions when we would have been through at dinnertime, I tried calling the day of (we generally don't have much advanced warning of our travels through) and they were thoroughly booked.

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I called on Saturday evening to make a reservation for Monday - when we were there (6:30 on Monday), there were a couple of other tables but it wasn't full. It's a pretty small place though, and when I had called them on Saturday it sounded really noisy and busy (which makes sense). Hope that helps, and I hope you make it over there soon!

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  • 2 months later...

My girlfriend (sara) and I had a delicious lunch at Smokejacks at the end of May. Our only regret was that we weren't able to have dinner there with its impressive menu & wine list and amazing cheese selection.

For lunch I had the Big Bold Burger (Local LaPlatte Black Angus Beef with Cabot Cheddar on Focaccia with Bacon Roasted Potatoes). The beef was rich, tender, and cooked to order. My only complaint was that the focaccia bread made it nearly impossible to eat the burger with my hands. A knife & fork had to become involved. Sara had the Mac & Cheese (with Many Cheeses, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Caramelized Onions, Parsely and Scallions). It was very complex & creamy and of impressive portion. She finished it for lunch in the car the next day, when it was just as good. She compared this dish to the pasta carbonara she had at Prune restaurant in New York City.

The drink possibilities at Smokejacks were endless. Sara enjoyed a spectacular bloody mary: the Extra Bold Bloody Mary with Freshly Squeezed Vegetable Juice and Many Chilies infused Vodka. I had a delicious house-made prickly pear & lemongrass soda. It was one of 7 (I believe) yummy soda varieties. I also threw in a glass of Ridge, Coast Range, CA 2000 zinfandel w/ my burger.

Smokejacks seems like a restaurant that could easily stand its ground and even excel in a much bigger city. Next visit, I plan to eat dinner here.

Edited by liamdc (log)

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

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Just back from trip.

We ended up eating at Trattoria Delia- A great wine bar and the food was unusual Italian and delicious.

Went to Single Pebble at 5 and lucked out with a 7:15 reservation. The best chinese food I ever had. Garlic eggplant and chicken dumplings were superb.

Glad you enjoyed Trattoria Delia. Thanks for the report on Single Pebble--I'll have to visit when I'm in Vermont in May.

(1) A Single Pebble report...

Sara and I ate here with my parents at the end of May. It's a very cozy restaurant made up of 3 separate dining rooms. Each table features a lazy susan in the center so dishes can easily be shared among the party. Nice.

For appetizers, we had excellent radish cakes and good steamed dumplings. For entrees, we had Chinese long beans, Peking duck, Chow Fun (pork & shrimp) , and a very good spicy noodle dish (I forget the name) which was good & light but not greasy. The cocktails here are also good. Two we enjoyed were the ginger martini and the lychee martini.

The food was delicious. As someone who's eaten lots of Chinese in places such as NYC, San Francisco and Washington, DC, Sara found it to be much better than she expected for a small city. The only downside of the meal was when Sara inadvertently was splashed with a fairly large amount of water from a wet rag being used to clean the table above us on the landing.

(2) Trattoria Delia report...

Trattoria Delia remains a solid Italian restaurant. It has a well balanced all-Italian wine list as well. My only wish is that the menu would change more often. It appears to be the almost identical menu from 3-5 years ago.

That said, our dishes were enjoyable. We had two nice salads to start: the Insalata Proscuitto e Aceto Balsamico (baby mesclun greens & Prosciutto di Parma w/ balsamic vinaigrette, wood-grilled caramelized onions, toasted pine nuts, and shaved parmesan cheese) and the Insalata con Gamberoni e Fagioli (Large, wood-grilled shrimp and cannolini bean salad of

fresh sage, fresh fennel, balsamic vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil,

served on a bed of arugula). For an entree, I had the Spaghetti alla Pescatora (fresh clams, mussels, shrimp, and calamari sauteed with olive oil, white wine, garlic, herbs and fresh tomatoes, served over imported spaghetti). The mussels, in particular, were delightful. Sara had a nightly special, the linguini & soft shell crabs. The dish was good, but overall there was too much linguini, and only a sauteed soft-shell. She also found it to be a bit oily. With the meal, we tried two different white wines. Both were good value ($26 and $32 a bottle each) and enjoyable. One was the Argiolas Vermentino di Sardegna (similar to a gewurztraminer); the other was a white produced by Feudi di San Gregorio (similar to a pinot blanc as I recall).

Liam

Eat it, eat it

If it's gettin' cold, reheat it

Have a big dinner, have a light snack

If you don't like it, you can't send it back

Just eat it -- Weird Al Yankovic

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A few notes on Liam's report-

My meal at Smokejack's was definitely reminiscent of a favorite brunch at Prunce in the Village several years back-- the Chicago Matchbox Bloody Mary, and pasta carbonara (according to the menu, a great way to get your bacon and eggs).

I found Trattoria Delia to be lacking. Granted, I didn't try the heartier meat dishes, and we dined there in the spring, rather than the winter--which this place with its dark environment seems to be meant for. My dish was beyond a little oily-- there was a visible pool of oil around my linguine on the plate, and on the soft shells. There's no way that linguine was homemade--something I've come to expect from Italian restaurants with reputations for good pasta.

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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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.

Edited by Tim D (log)

"An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup." - H. L. Mencken

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