Vermont: where was I? Does this restaurant/bakery still exist? plus other ?s and review
- charlie_b May 28, 2008 12:07 AM
Hello Vermont Hounds:
I just came up to VT for the weekend, somehow clueless until the day before we left that it was Memorial Day weekend. Didn't do a ton of dining, as it was primarily a camping trip (with daily trips to the City Market Co-op in Burlington), but we did eat out our first night at Smokejacks...
I did some quick searching before we left, but i didn't dig too deep, and decided to play it by ear. My husband was in the mood for pork ribs, and i always prefer places that emphasize local ingredients, etc.. We parked down by the lake, walked up Main, considered the BBQ place (loved their motto: put some south in your mouth), but thought we'd check out Church Street first. checked a few places, and Smokejacks seemed the winner. I was also intrigued by the bistro a couple of blocks in (forget the name), but they didn't have ribs on the menu.
So, first. the review: Smokejack's on Church & Main
The atmosphere was casual, cozy, and allowed for conversation. The hostess and waitress were both friendly, and accommodating. As previously established, my husband went for the "vermont ribs" with a molasses BBQ sauce, served with coleslaw and cornbread. The ribs were great, tender, juicy, pleasingly fatty, but trimmed of excessive fat. The tender meat easily separated from the bone. The sauce was good, a bit unusual, but a little heavy for my tastes, although my husband really liked it, and i liked it better when i only had a little. (Aside: my bbq preferences run towards Texan, so it's not surprising that i found the sauce to be too heavy.) The coleslaw was fine and colorful, although not remarkable. The cornbread (i think from Red Hen?) was too salty for both of us, and we only ate a few bites. I am not usually a burger-orderer, but I was in the mood... So, I ordered their burger (med-rare), and opened with their arugula/beet/bluecheese/candied walnut salad, which was almost perfection. i usually wish i had ordered dressing on the side, as I find most restaurants overdress their salads to my palate. Not so this one. Everything was balanced and delicious, well composed, with distinct flavors that were greater than a sum of their parts. The burger was also a good, solid burger, cooked properly, etc. The roasted potatoes with bacon were a nice diversion from the usual french fries, and I'm a girl who ALWAYS says YES to bacon. Portions were generous enough that we both had left-overs (which were delicious for breakfast the following morning at our campsite). We didn't drink with our meal, since we had a bottle of wine waiting for us at the campsite. We skipped dessert, but got a three-cheese selection to-go back with us for our bottle of wine. The waitress was very accommodating to our camping requests, which included getting some extra pats of butter to go, and getting two paper-soup cups to use as wine glasses. We were very happy.
Review out of the way, any feedback on the other two places we were considering (bistro and bbq).?
and, the primary reason for my post ... i visited Vermont on a roadtrip with a friend about 9 years ago. I thought we visited Burlington and ate breakfast there, but nothing, nothing in Burlington looked familiar to me... I know we went to Montpelier, and maybe it was there we had had our breakfast. Certainly passing through Montpelier again, it looked much more familiar, but I do know we passed through then as well, so that is to be expected, whether we ate there or not.
I know we were in Bradford and Williamstown, so Montpelier is the more likely place...
Anyway, this breakfast was memorable, for the bread. As I remember it, the place was a bakery/cafe that baked their own breads (and other things I'm sure) and used them for toast/sandwiches, etc. Nothing particularly ambitious or unstandard about the offerings, but solid, good food. maybe some unusual pancakes and french toasts? The bread was so good, I came back before leaving town and purchased a loaf. I think it was a seeded multi-grain type of bread. I *think* i remember it being "homey" and being long/narrow with a line of tables going along the length, plus some others in the back.
I was hoping to find the place again. Does it ring any bells?
If it was in Montpelier 9 years ago it was most likely either La Brioche or Coffee Corner (which actually has a decent chef/owner, I think he's a trained chef). La Brioche is run by the New England Culinary Institute and they do all their own baking. Coffee Corner is a breakfast/lunch place. They're both at the corner of State and Main, and have both been there for a terribly long time. La Brioche is more like a coffee shop atmosphere and as far as I know they don't have griddle, and so don't cook much to order. My vote would be for Coffee Corner, which has a long line of booths down one wall, a counter in the middle, and a large booth in the front window overlooking the intersection, and of course a griddle and the standard breakfast offerings which I've always found reliably made and tasty. :)
Yes, it's still there. :) I knew the guy who took it over in like 1996 or 1997, he used to be the head of the kitchens at Norwich University in Northfield, when I was working there. He left before I did to take over Coffee Corner (I much lamented it because he was wonderful help when planning banquets or receptions) and I left there in Nov 1997. He's been there ever since. :)
Maybe Horn of the Moon, (which is no longer there)? I don't think of Coffee Corner as having outstanding bread. At least nothing you would go back for, it's diner really.
As for the places in Burlington, you made the right choice with Smokejack's (for what you were wanting) the other places are Big Fatty's BBQ and I'm guessing Luenigs Bistro on Church. I haven't been to Big Fatty's but I'm pretty sure it gets mixed reviews and Luenigs, well... let's just say it has it's place in the history of Burlington but it's fading fast.