Park Squeeze - healthy chow in Vergennes, VT
I just wanted to post a heads-up about this new restaurant we discovered on our last trip to VT. It's a great neighborhood place for a healthy lunch or dinner, on the same block as Eat Good Food (decisions, decisions...). The place is small and crowded, but the atmosphere is brightly lit, funky, and family-friendly (lots of folks with kids there when we went). They have some interesting salads, like the tasty Roasted Beet with bleu cheese and walnuts, and good soups and wraps, plus "snacks" like crostini and an awesome mini spanikopita. The main menu item is "Be The Bowl," which is kind of a design-your-own soup, where you choose the broth, noodles, protien (including shrimp, chicken, duck, mock duck and tofu) and up to 5 vegetables, and get an enormous tasty bowl for $9. I went with lemongrass broth (spicy), soba noodles, and beef with cabbage, bok choy, jalapenos, carrots and mint. They've got a mini version of this for the kids' menu, plus kid-size wraps, soup, and chicken with rice. I definitely recommend Park Squeeze for a tasty casual meal... just get there early, since it really fills up!
161 Main St., Vergennes, VT
11 am to 8:30 pm, Tues - Sat
Based on reading reviews elsewhere, I was looking forward to having lunch at the Park Squeeze, but the actual dining experience didn't live up to its reputation. They do a nice job of using a very confined space, and the service is prompt and attentive, but the food just didn't measure up.
After looking over a very promising menu, we ordered a shrimp wasabi wrap and a bowl of soup. It was clear that the wrap was made with a variety fresh, high-quality ingredients -- with the exception of shrimp. After several bites, we wondered whether the kitchen staff had forgotten to put it in. Finally, after careful searching, we located four tiny shrimp -- a very skimpy serving. As for the wasabi, there was no discernible flavor of wasabi, or of anything else. It was one of the most bland, flavorless wraps I have tasted.
The soup was beautifully presented, but as I tasted it, the broth (I had ordered chicken broth) was dark and salty with a strong flavor of soy and salt, but no chicken flavor. I asked the kitchen staff whether they had made the soup with miso broth by mistake, but they assured me that they had used chicken broth, and that they use soy in making their chicken broth. I can see only two possibilities: either they lied to me and it was actually miso broth, or else their chicken broth is so laden with soy and salt that it tastes like miso. Neither alternative is very reassuring. As in the wrap, the protein was very skimpy, but the main problem, once again, was the flavor. Definitely not worth the nearly $10 that they charge for it even if the broth had tasted of chicken.
I'm sorry, but fresh ingredients and correct politics aren't enough. The food has to have some flavor.