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Jan 2, 2012 09:47 AM

Burlington VT report

My husband and I are from the Boston area and spent a couple of night in Burlington over New Year's.

Our first meal was at the Blue Cat. It was a little hard to find, tucked away in a multi-use building, but once we got in we really enjoyed the atmosphere. It was dark and cozy and inviting. The wine list is very varied with many different price points to choose from. Our Eberle Cabernt for $38 paired well with our meals. We split a salad with blue cheese and candied walnuts to start. It was fresh and crisp and the cheese was creamy and tangy. We both got the grass-fed boneless rib-eye as our mains. The steaks were very flavorful and cooked to order. My mashed were fine if unremarkable, and the accompanying asparagus was pretty sparse and could have used some more time on the grill. For dessert I got a chocolate cake with toffee almond ice cream. The cake was fine but it was the ice cream that I really enjoyed. My husband got warm berry pie and said it was quite good. Serve was very attentive and warm. It was a very nice experience and I'd love to return at some point.

Breakfast the next morning was at Penny Cluse. Both our dishes were excellent. He got eggs, black beans, andouille sausage and corn muffins, and I got a special of eggs with avocado-tomatillo sausage and black beans. Coffee was our only complaint...a little too weak for our tastes. Lots of refills, though. We'll definitely return.

New Year's Eve we headed to The Daily Planet before a concert at Higher Ground. What a great place! The menu is inventive and really reasonably priced. Service is also very warm and welcoming. My special of trout almondine was delicious, and my husband enjoyed his curried rice and veggies with a 1/2 butter chicken. We were too full for dessert. Our bill was a very reasonable $80 including a $24 bottle of very tasty rioja. The cost was about half of what we spent the night before and we actually enjoyed it more. We'll definitely head back here next time we're in Burlington.

New Year's morning breakfast at Magnolia's was also fantastic. For me, excellent eggs benedict on sourdough. I'm a tough critic when it comes to hollandaise, and thought their's was terrific.
For him, the chipotle black beans and eggs on really good polenta.

The only thing we missed was a strong cup of coffee. Obviously, we could have headed to Starbucks but wanted to catch the local flavor. Uncommon Grounds was okay, but nothing special. Muddy Waters was closed for floor refinishing. A couple of locals said that Speeder and Earl's was good but weak. Any other suggestions?

We absolutely fell in love with the city, and are kicking ourselves for not heading here sooner. Happy New Year to all!

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  1. Thanks for spending your holiday in Burlington !

    1. Hello, as Tony says, thanks for visiting.

      As for the coffee - I'm sorry you missed Speeders. They always have several vacuum pots available at different strengths, and it's where I go when I'm downtown. Leunigs restaurant, while not a coffee house, per se, makes a good strong cup, and they might let you sit for a while just for coffee (though the menu may tempt you, also) if they aren't too busy. Pleasant, busy corner on Church Street for people watching. It's a good breakfast option for next time, perhaps?

      1 Reply
      1. re: KellJ

        Thanks, KellJ. We're hoping to make it back toward the end of August, so I appreciate your advice. We already really miss the area.

      2. I grew up in Burlington and travel home frequently to see family (I live in Brooklyn now). The Blue Cat is new to me, so I will have to check it out next time I visit.

        Some favorites of mine are:
        Bluebird Tavern
        Farmhouse Grill
        El Cortijo
        Sneakers (in Winooski -- a good brunch, on par with Pennycluse, which is also a favorite)
        Vietnam Restaurant in Essex (total hole in the wall, but the food is superb)
        Pho Hong in Burlington also does nice Vietnamese food.

        Slightly outside of Burlington, I would highly recommend Hen of the Wood (Waterbury) and Kitchen Table Bistro (Richmond).

        1 Reply
        1. re: hannahcampbell

          I should also mention Pistou -- a new(ish) restaurant on lower Main Street. The food is truly excellent and the service is great too.

        2. For a summer visit, make breakfast reservations at