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Burlington Report 10/10/06

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Just returned from Burl where we had 3 dinners. My priorities may be different from yours; for me, I am happiest with Innovative Food That is Delicious.

After stopping by and seeing the menus at The Kitchen Table and Sonoma Station, we cancelled reservations there. Same 'been there; done that' foodstuffs; nothing innovative by my book.(We had had a delic. dinner at Kitch Table last yr.)Couldn't get into The SHelburne Inn but they had some unusual foodstuffs and treatments- octopus; black cod.... Next time.

The Green Room was so wonderful that we ate there 2 nights. Actually everything was delic; generous portions and lovely presentation. And a neat bonus was that each plate had lots of greens. Our favs were the Sushi Tuna and Avocado Timbale topped with Avocado sorbet (not new by any means,except for the sorbet addition, but perfectly done and super. i could eat it every night and feel blessed.);
Duck Confit Tacos w/ chipotle sour cream:
so many chefs make duck confit that is NOT good, but this was perfect-crunchy,tender,flavorful, not gross fatty. Spinach Salad with Soy dressing and guacamole pools. Red Curry Glazed Scallops.

They have neat system of dishes of 3 sizes plus daily specials. Lots to choose from. Waitress, Cynthia, was a doll and very helpful after we had real problems with the inexperienced/attitudy lounge waitress first assigned us. Chef, David, very talented fellow.
Room is handsome and comfortable. their website is just coming up we were told. greenroomvt.com

One dinner at The Bearded Frog. Mixed feelings about it. Young inexp. waitstaff. Highlight: Tempura Ginger Scallops with 2 dipping sauces and sauteed bok choy. The Mint/cilantro etc etc sauce was very special. The duck entree was o.k. ; sauce not great, so i subbed the port sauce from elsewhere on the menu.accompanying cornmeal muffin was great, but no greens on the plate; rather unattractive presentation. The kale/wh bean soup was o.k. Cornbread in table basket was best i've been served- moist, heavy and very flavorful. Very nice wine list. O.k. room but nothing special.

Penny Cluse was wonderful as usual- huevos rancheros super.

Sauce lunch was o.k.; not as good as i would have hoped. Very limited menu to boot.

Finally got to try the Dumpling Lady's wares but really did NOT like the 'crab rangoon'.While the handmade-before-your-eyes- wrappers were fine, the filling tasted like crab, slivered cooked egg white, garlic and mayo. yech. the chicken and pork dumplings were just o.k.; nothing to make them special. sesame noodles o.k.

Delic.Ali Baba takeout lunch for our ride back to boston-pork souvlaki and curried chicken pita.

Hen in the Woods had nice looking menu but we didn't have chance to try.

What a beautiful city Burlington is- and fun. Very nice people wherever you go; and lots of excellent dining options. Look forward to reading further posts from jberkeley and jestner in particular!

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  1. Glad to hear you had such delicious meals! I've been to the Green Room once and had an awfully hard time choosing what to eat. Everything was perfect.

    If you're ever in the area again, my new favorite restaurant is up the road in Williston, the Old Brick Cafe. Only open for dinner Thurs-Sat. and it's BYOB (a fee is charged for opening the bottle). I've eaten dinner twice and everything has been wonderful. The inside decor is ok, but the tables are spread out far enough that you don't feel like you're eating with your next party. If you're there in the summer, eating on their brick deck is lovely. I had the sea scallops served over spaghetti squash with a light cream sauce and pancetta. Divine!

    The building that Sauce is in has been transformed so many times I can't even count. I ate there once when they were in mid-transition and haven't been back. I have a hard time paying upwards of $7 for a salad, one that I considered to be the size of a side salad. Perhaps things have changed.

    Ali Baba...mmmmmm.

    Who is the Dumpling Lady? Is she on Church Street?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Addisonchef

      What was the corkage fee at Old Brick Cafe?

      I've been there several times (but not since June) and never was charged, so I'm disappointed they've added such a fee. They don't have a liquor license, and BYOB is only allowed in Vermont at restaurants if they don't have a liquor license.

      1. re: signothetimes53

        The first time I went there for dinner, there wasn't a fee, but the second time there was. I believe it's $10-11. My understanding is it's a state law, but I'm not positive. I think there's a line on the menu explaining, but I can't be certain.

      2. re: Addisonchef

        addison chef,
        thanks for that heads up of the old brick cafe. will go there!
        yes, the dumpling lady is on church. sometimes....... but now i know i needn't have always searched for her.

        i guess you're surprised by ali baba? do try those 2 pitas i mentioned(just tell them to LIGHTLY cook the meat) and see what you think then!!

        1. re: opinionatedchef

          Opinionatedchef, I meant that to be, mmm, mmm, good! :-)) Ali Baba's, good comfort food IMO! Glad you liked this little tucked in the wall spot!

      3. Good to hear you liked Green Room so much. I think its very under-rated. Thanks for the post

        1. Wonderful report! I have yet to get to the Green Room but am excited to see your post. What's the menu like at the Old Brick Cafe? I live about 5 miles from there but hadn't talked with anybody who's been. I love going to Burlington to eat but also enjoy the local finds. The bakery in Richmond, on Bridge Street, On The Rise, has great baked goods and lunches. The only place to sit is on a bench outside but they are in the process of building a sit-down restaurant a bit down the road. For those of you who were Daily Bread lovers, On The Rise is son of Daily Bread!

          1 Reply
          1. re: jhberkley

            Here's their menu for everyone:
            http://www.oldbrickcafe.com

            I was just in Richmond two weeks ago on my way to Montpelier. I'll have to be on the lookout for that bakery, sounds great! :-)

          2. addison, thanks for the menu. i've printed them all out and they're going into the Vt file. i think next time i come up, I'll post and see if anyone wants to get together for a CH dinner out. so many good places and such nice people....!
            CH get togethers happen very occasionally in boston; anyone heard of any happening up there in the past?

            1 Reply
            1. re: opinionatedchef

              I just barely joined the Board last week, but I'd love to go to dinner up here if there is one in the future! :-)

            2. is Trattoria D'Elia still open? I lived there 1996-1999 and had really wonderful meals there.

              4 Replies
              1. re: drowntown

                If you love Italian food, you should also try L'Amante on college street. The food is excellent. I thoroughly enjoyed the Green Room when I visited, but have had a couple of not so good experiences at some of the other newish restaurants. I don't recommend Adriana's nor Taste (which is down on the Waterfront) -- the food was uneven at both.

                1. re: vtfoodie

                  vtfoodie- I agree on Adriana's though it's certainly a step up from the NECI fiasco that used to be in the same spot... But Taste? There was an hour and a quarter wait for a table last Saturday night! Not a new place either- perhaps you caught them on a bad night?

                  1. re: OCatswell

                    I thought Taste was uneven too. Just because there are long lines/waits (e.g. Wendys in Manhattan), doesn't mean the food is great. I would not recommend Taste nor return.

                    1. re: Jestner

                      Didn't mean to ruffle your feathers! But an analogy to a Wendy's in Manhattan? Cmon. As a Taste patron for over a year, I think they've stepped it up a notch- in food and service- and the marketplace is responding. Something must be going right as they do zero advertising and are located on a dead end street with no signage. We found out about it through the chamber of commerce on a random trip to the Flynn-

                      I've had downright bad or mediocre meals at many restaurants and returned again(Black Sheep, Pebble, 5 Spice Cafe...) as I try to give them the benifit of the doubt- From my experience working in restaurants when I was younger, I know that places will sometimes have a bad night or opening/growing pains but that those times aren't neccessarily representative of their overall performance.

              2. It is! I go about once a year, usually on a special occasion. Their tiramisu is to die for!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Addisonchef

                  And, back in the day, an amazing $13 glass of Michel Chiarlo Barolo...

                2. I hope the Old Brick Cafe inmproved their stemware when they added a corkage fee. It's not worth $10 to pour a $60 bottle of Owen Roe into a 5 oz banquet glass that should be serving Franzia !

                  I have heard some good words about Cafe Toscano in Richmond. Any thoughts ??????????

                  1. I've only eaten at Toscano twice, both times for lunch. The last time was a few weeks ago. Decided twice was enough for me. I found it expensive for food I can make at home that is better. But, I have heard wonderful things about them, perhaps dinner is better?

                    1. Well- Just saw that The Old Brick Cafe is for sale- Better hurry if you are going to try it!

                      Also caught a mention of the Green Room in a recent Boston Globe article- link below-

                      http://www.explorenewengland.com/trav...

                      1. For sale! Oh no! Thank you for the head's up! Will try and get there soon, for which I hope WON'T be my last meal there!

                        1. I still haven't made it to the Old Brick Cafe, even though I live just down the road, and now I'll have to hurry to get there. Any idea why it's being sold?

                          1. I was so boggled by the love for the Old Brick Cafe that I had to join up to post about it.

                            I've never had dinner there, only lunch or breakfast, so maybe that's why my experience was so different.

                            I've been there four or five times and every time it was mediocre to awful. The last time my husband and I went it was so bad that we vowed never to go back. It took them at least 20 minutes just to take our order (that should have been our cue to leave) and the food took another hour or so. As has often been the case, they were out of many of the items on the menu. My husband ordered the breakfast burrito only to be told a few minutes later that they had run out of tortillas, so he got it as a scramble. The scramble was a mediocre heap of canned salsa, black beans, etc. It came without the home fries that were supposed to come with it, no commentary or explanation. From the people at the next table we had overhead they were out. He asked the waitress for toast to replace the fries. When she brought it it was pretty much raw, no butter. When she didn't come back he had to go and find someone to get butter. When it came it was in a little crock and had already been used by someone else, complete with crumbs. Ew!

                            I got a cup of sweet potato soup, which was OK, and a Caesar salad. Neither of us can remember the problem now, but I found it more or less inedible as well.

                            The people behind us had an equally bad experience--they received egg dishes that were prepared very differently from how they'd ordered. They complained loudly, left without eating, and the OBC waived their bill. We didn't complain and our bill was reduced by 50%.

                            As we left, we saw the restaurant was announcing they were closing early, presumably because the service was so overwhelmed and they had nothing left to serve. Since we had barely had anything, we promptly went around the corner to the Chef's Corner and enjoyed a very good breakfast there.

                            It wasn't the first time one or both of us had had problems at the OBC with items no longer available, poorly made, incorrect stuff served, etc., so I can't attribute this to a particularly bad day. So, I'm not at all surprised they're closing! It's too bad, they were better a few months ago and occasionally we had some good food there, but it's definitely been downhill of late.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Herk

                              I completely agree with Herk's sentiment regarding the Old Brick Cafe. I went there for breakfast about 2 months after they opened and ordered the yogurt parfait with fruit. The fruit was 2 grapes and a slice of a strawberry. I'd call that a garnish, really. An easy dish like that and they still managed to disappoint.

                            2. I wonder what the future will bring for this location ? From what I know, the current owner bought and the place more as a hobby (with investment potential ??) than a labor of love. Hopefully if it remains an eatery, the next owner will be passionate about food and the local clientele will benefit. Unfortunatley, I wouldn't be shocked if it became an office for a doctor or accountant...............

                              1. Opinionatedchef,

                                I must say you missed out on some of the best food in the area; Sonoma Station with its polenta fries and the flourless chocolate cake with bit of cayenne pepper were innovative, reasonably priced and delicious! I started with a squash soup which I needed extra bread to wipe the bowl clean it was so good and finished with a rather large serving of duck which had a wonderful sauce to complement but was not overpowering. I suggest you give it a try sometime.

                                As for other places that I really enjoy:

                                The Kitchen Table is always a delight but didn’t make it there this time around. I did hit L”Amante which I had not been to in years! They have definitely improved since my last visit, a couple of years ago (that might have been just after they opened though). I agree with you on the mixed feelings about the Bearded Frog, my appetizer was delicious but dinner had to be sent back. They did the right thing in the end and didn’t charge me for it. I will check them out again once they have been open longer.

                                I will have to put the Greenroom on my list of places to try. I do miss the Iron Wolf!

                                Happy eating.