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Montpelier, VT dining

Does anyone have a recommendation for a good steak place in or around Montpelier, VT? Also, Sarduccis has been suggested for good Italian - - any feedback? Many thanks for any help!
Jane H.

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  1. I can't tell you much about Montpelier except the casual places La Brioche, Capitol Grounds and Coffee Corner. All good for a quick bite. There's a little bit of info here:


    1. Personally I don't like Sarduccis. I find the food bland, salty, and the restaurant gets very noisy. I have no idea where to find good steak in Montpelier, and I live here! Morgan's do a good middle of the road burger, and surprisingly some nice pizzas. My top place to go would be the Thai on Elm Street -- the best food in town. Walk further down Elm St. to Gesine's -- the best coffee and baked goods. Puts all the other coffee houses in the shade.

      1. Thanks for your feedback. The menu for Sarduccis looked uninspired, which is why I inquired. Any experience with NECI Chef's Table?

        1. Montpelier is mostly a restaurant wasteland. Chef's Table for a steak? Maybe, though I'd doubt they serve it up in classic style, they'd likely give it some sort of a nouveau spin.

          And like all NECI restaurants, the service unfortunately generally comes with an insufferable snob attitude from the student waitstaff.

          1. I have had steaks at Morgan's (in the Capital Plaza hotel) and they have been pretty good. Not a NY steakhouse, but not bad for a hotel. My son is in school nearby and we have to take him to get his red meat fix! Have had several good meals at the restaurant on State St. that is close to the hotel - starts with a "C" (sorry I can't remember) but I understand it has changed hands. Don't know if they do steak.

            1. I've found NECI to be unreliable and overpriced -- all of their restaurants are...the Chef's Table especially so. Basically your quality of food depends on who is teaching that night so it can be from bad (usually too salty) to quite OK. Does the meal have to be in Montpelier? It might be worth the drive elsewhere if you're willing to pay CT prices?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Jayne in VT

                Thanks for confirming my suspicions. We are more than happy to drive for a better meal, so suggestions within and hour or so of Montpelier are welcome.

              2. Well, personally I would save the drive and stay in Montpelier and go to the Thai, but if you're not a fan of that kind of food, I understand. Within an hour, you're looking at wider options in Burlington -- here are quite a few posts kicking around for that area.

                The locals chow board may help too -- http://www.7nvt.com/7n/home.htm

                My choice out of town? I'd go to The Starry Night Cafe or Elements, but I'm not sure either of them have the steak you might be after. Burger and good beer? The Alchemist. The Hen of the Wood at Grist Mill in Waterbury (about 20min drive) is getting good feedback. I haven't been there myself yet, but would certainly try it.

                1. Thanks, everyone, for your suggestions and feedback. We ultimately dined at Chef's Table. Would not recommend it and would not return. Possibly the worst cut of beef (NY strip) I've ever been served. My husband's pork was tasteless. Presentation was fine. Salad and desserts were fine. Entrees were horrendous. Service surprisingly slow and unprofessional. Overall, a poor experience.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Jane Hyde

                    Sorry you had a bad experience. I'm always surprised that people are prepared to drop money at that place (and downstairs). It really is not good food at all. I would email them and let them know.

                    1. re: Jane Hyde

                      Why did you ultimately choose to do Chef's Table after the lackluster reviews above? Just curious.

                    2. We let the manager know our thoughts before we left, though the owner of the B&B we stayed at said she doubted it would make a difference, since others have apparently also voiced complaints. Live and learn! We travel through Vermont often, so any suggestions are most welcome. Thus far, we've not had great luck, with the exception of a very respectable meal at Toscano's Cafe/Bistro in Richmond. We were favorably impressed.

                      1. I'm not surprised the Chef's Table manager did nothing proactive about your complaints.

                        There is something remarkably indifferent (at best) about how the various NECI restaurants serve customers and react to problems.

                        A year ago I dined at the Inn at Essex with my wife, and received incredibly bad, rude service, and the manager ignored my complaints. The last laugh was on him: I was there after meeting with the conference sales manager at the hotel. The hotel was pitching my company to hold our corporate annual meetings at the Inn at Essex.

                        My dinner was planned as a means of road-testing the food and the service. When a simple dinner went badly awry, and management arrogantly ignored me when I complained, I knew I'd never bring my meeting (a 2-year contract, no less) there. They lost $50,000 in billings over a $40 meal gone wrong.

                        1. We decided to try Chef's Table because we (a) had heard good things about it from others, (b) like to support the student culinary experience, and (c) found the menus at the other suggested places to be rather uninteresting. It was really due to a lack of competition, in large part. Our plan for future Vermont trips is to drive to Richmond to Toscano Bistro or, if we're further north, to simply go to Montreal. The weekend wasn't a waste, however, since it started on Saturday morning with a wonderful cheese festival in Londonderry.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Jane Hyde

                            Before you go all the way to Montreal, there are so many wonderful restaurants in between! In Williston, the Old Brick Cafe has become my new favorite restaurant. They only serve dinners Thurs-Sat. and you bring your own wine. I've eaten dinner there twice and both times the meals rivaled anything I've had in a big city. The Green Room in Burlington is also a new treat. They have small and large plates and making a decision is a difficult one! The Bearded Frog in Shelburne is very nice as is Tully and Marie's in Middlebury. I've eaten at Toscano twice, both times at lunch, and am not impressed. Expensive for simple food that I can make at home. Ate there two weekends ago, confirmed my feeling I'm not going to go back. Haven't eaten at Chef's Table, sorry to hear you had such a bad time. Montpelier is my hometown and living an hour away, visit frequently. The Thai restaurant is the best!

                          2. I had yet another crappy experience at the Main Street Bar and Grill yesterday lunch. A colleague insisted on going there so I had no choice. I thought they couldn't muck up the lunch too much and gave it a go. What a waste of time that was.

                            I ordered a trio of fishcakes with a frisee salad - close to $9. It certainly sounded interesting if a little on the expensive side. We waited a LONG time for a our food -- with leaf peeping in season I expected this. The place was heaving with poor unsuspecting tourists. When my plate came the presentation was poor. Tiny fish cakes lounging on a giant plate, and the whole rim of the plate was dirty, and hadn't been cleaned up properly. The salad? Two small limp pieces of frisee, one of them brown around the edges.

                            I called the server and complained. She said that it was a garnish, not a salad. I pointed out it said a salad in the menu. She offered to re-plate the food. Cold fishcakes -- NICE. And would get an extra salad. I refused and went without. There was no feedback from the kitchen. No apology. Just an offer to get a clean plate.

                            Not very impressive, but then again not very surprising from poor old NECI. They need to take a serious look at their standards if they want to keep the locals coming.

                            1. Thanks for the Vermont recommendations. I'll given them a try and will remain hopeful that there is good food to be found. It would be nice to feel that a trip to Montreal won't be mandatory whenever I'm in Vermont!

                              1. I love to cook and eat GOOD food. In Central Vermont I either go to Sarducci's (lots of good things, I like the chicken marsala) or the Royal Orchid (the Thai place), both in Montpelier. Neither have ever disappointed. Certainly worth at least a try. As for steak, I'm not a big steak eater, but someone told me that the Longhorn (?) at Williston's Taft Corners is good. I can't say-I've never been there.

                                1. The steak at Longhorn is typical chain fair although they seem to put a bit more thought into their menu and ambiance than their competition (Good Day Mate). The burgers are a good value at about $7.50 and you can choose your side including a baked sweet potato with cinnamon butter. There are not a lot of steakhouse options in Vermont which is kind of suprising as it is a meat and potato kind of state. The Sirloin Saloon is an option but word on the street is that is has slipped in the past couple of years.

                                  1. I have to give a mention to the Indian on Northfield Street (I think) next to the Econo lodge. It has been taken over by new owners and the food is fantastic. Very authentic North Indian cuisine. Mild dishes of course, but they spice it up hot if you ask them. The appetisers are some of the most interesting I have ever tasted. The lentil 'doughnuts' have an incredible flavour. Unfortunately it's still the crappy old restaurant interior, but I'm sure with time they will improve the surroundings. Just superb food and another little gem for Montpelier.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Jayne in VT

                                      I am surprised no one has mentioned Hen of the Woods (Waterbury). Hands down the best meal I've ever had in Vermont. Local-focused, meat-focused menu, superb cooking, and very nice setting in what used to be the "Mist Grill." Their entrees and cheese plates are really to die for. Another fun choice is Ariel's restaurant off exit 5 (I-89) in Brookfield, home of the floating bridge. Homier atmosphere, inventive dishes, and a pleasant, attentive atmosphere good for entertaining guests with children or senior guests. IN Montpelier, J Morgan's has the largest menu and That's Life Soup has a unique, quieter atmosphere.

                                      1. re: superpink

                                        Heh, this thread is from a year ago, Sept 2006 is when it started. ;) There are more recent threads that have more recent info. :)

                                        1. re: superpink

                                          I concur about That's Life Soup. The food is fresh, interesting and tasty (although fairly expensive...) I only wish they had more than soups and sandwiches!

                                          We've heard pretty bad things about the new Ariel's in Montpelier where Finkerman's barbecue used to be. We'll try to rustle up the energy to go one of these days, however, to experience it first hand...

                                          We've heard good things about Phoebe's on State Street, but it seems too expensive to merit a risky meal. Maybe in the future when we want to spend our dear president's economic incentive tax rebate...yeah, right.

                                        2. re: Jayne in VT

                                          Actually, I think they closed. My wife and I moved to Montpelier from Brooklyn around the time this was originally posted, and were excited about the food (pretty decent.) However, every time we went back, the food got progressively worse and worse, until we ended up vowing never to return! It's really too bad; we so desperately want to eat the different foods we got used to in NYC...

                                          1. re: jeanmarc

                                            Which place are you talking about? You know this is an old thread, right? :)