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Bite Club: Vermont's Food & Drink Blog

Restaurant News

January 21, 2014

Farmhouse Group to Open New Restaurant in nika Space

Food-nikaNika, the Mediterranean restaurant that opened at 83 Church Street last March, closed suddenly earlier this month. On Tuesday, Seven Days learned that the company behind Farmhouse Tap & Grill, El Cortijo Taqueria Y Cantina, Guild Tavern and Guild Fine Meats is planning to open a new restaurant in the former nika space.

"We're planning a new, casual Italian restaurant," says Kristina Bond, director of marketing for the Farmhouse Group. "We don't have anything else to report at this moment other than we're super excited!"

Nika opened on March 25, 2013, replacing Three Tomatoes Trattoria, which had turned out wood-fired pizzas and pasta dishes for 21 years in the Church Street basement restaurant space. The restaurant was originally called Sweet Tomatoes.

By opening nika, Three Tomatoes owners Robert Myers and Jim Reiman hoped to appeal to a broader clientele. Though that culinary experiment is over, the two still own Three Tomatoes restaurants in Williston, Rutland and Lebanon, N.H.

Bond says that more details will emerge as work progresses on the Farmhouse Group's latest restaurant. But Farmhouse Group co-owner Jed Davis is no stranger to the space. He was once director of operations for Three Tomatoes.

 

January 15, 2014

South End Kitchen to Open Next Week in Burlington

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After a yearlong, multimillion-dollar renovation of the former Sondik Supply building at 716 Pine Street, the staff of Lake Champlain Chocolates will unveil their bold new culinary center next week.

The colorful, 45-seat South End Kitchen at Lake Champlain Chocolates — bedecked in golden-rod tiles, filled with wooden tables and adorned with a stone hearth — anchors the 8,500-square-foot space. It's flanked on either side by an airy education kitchen and a glassed-in production area for Blue Bandana Chocolate Maker.

"It's a unique space, and it was fun to take an old warehouse" and transform it, said Jim Lampman, LCC's founder, who worked closely with his son, Eric, and architect John Anderson on the project. Architect Donna Church of studioblue Architecture created the design, which was partly funded by $1.3 million in financing from the Vermont Economic Development Authority.

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January 14, 2014

Farah's Place Has Closed — For Now

Food-farahsAfter two-and-a-half years in business, following a short run in Johnson, Burlington's only Persian restaurant has closed its doors. According to owner Farah Oberlender, the eatery was just too much for her to run on her own, and good help was scarce. "It's too much," she told Seven Days. "I just can't take it anymore."

Though 147 North Winooski Avenue will no longer be a destination for hummus, kebabs and herb-speckled falafel, Oberlender suggests that the business will be back in some form soon. "For sure we’re coming back for summer, but not as a restaurant," hints the chef.

Customers who have purchased gift cards should email Oberlender at fober2@yahoo.com.

January 10, 2014

Grazing Atop Killington

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For skiers, slopeside food options have long been the culinary equivalent of a barren tundra: curly fries, hot dogs and nachos. Then again, as Killington Resort president and general manager Mike Solimano quips, "People say they want health food, but they keep buying cheeseburgers and fries."

ChowderLast night, 150 or so people who took the K-1 Gondola at sunset up to the resort's new peak lodge — a years-long project that opened just before Christmas — listened intently to Solimano as they also munched on the chowder, sliders, shrimp cocktail and mac-and-cheese boats that make up the new frontier of Killington lunch fare.

The challenges of building a six-sided lodge at 4000-plus feet aside, Killington's food and beverage staff worked to include as much local food as possible in the new menu.

Instead of cheese fries, the skiers lounging on leather couches or gazing out the lodge's floor-to-ceiling windows can tuck instead into bowls of creamy seafood chowder topped with smoked bacon (pictured); zesty chipotle-apple turkey chili; specials such as roasted swordfish and sautéed scallops; and, yup, cheesburgers, albeit made with locally raised meat and topped with Vermont cheddar. Or, they can belly up to the bar for a pint of Shed Mountain Ale or a hot cocktail of ginger brandy, orange slices and cinnamon.

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December 12, 2013

Maglianero Closed — But Not for Long

Mag_coffeeCaffeine seekers who have shown up at Maglianero Café in Burlington the past few days may have been disappointed to find a locked door. They should fear not: The coffee mecca is not gone, just in the process of being moved to the street-facing gallery space upstairs at 47 Maple.

Manager Corey Goldsmith is knee-deep in the renovations — as in, doing much of it himself — putting together "a more integrated, clean, modern look" that he designed. That includes solid ash wood counters built by Vermont Farm Table, but it also means less seating. At least for now, there will be three seats at the new brew bar, plus three tables with four seats each.

And while Maglianero will still have Wi-Fi, the laptop army won't find outlets near those tables — an adjustment for the legions who love to camp out at Maglianero for hours.

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November 15, 2013

Grazing: Little Sweets at Maglianero

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Anyone who still has room in their belly at the end of a meal at Burlington's Hen of the Wood knows that the pastries from pastry chef Andrew LeStourgeon are swoonworthy. The pull of his molten brownie topped with scorched pine merengue is so strong that I've gorged on it twice.

Which is why today was a happy day, especially for 7Dayzers who work a few steps away from Maglianero. HOTW's pastry arm, Little Sweets, made its first delivery of petite croissants, doughnuts, buns, muffins, cookies and scones to the café this morning, including crunchy-on-the-outside glazed chocolate donuts ($2 each), chewy, intensely flavored coconut macaroons ($2 each) and caramelized caneles de Bourdeaux ($3.25 each). Most of them were gone by mid-afternoon.

"I really wanted our pastries to be more in line with what we're doing with the coffee," says Corey Goldsmith, Maglianero's manager, who seems passionate that first-rate pastry should be an integral part of the Maglianero experience. "I wanted to work with people who are really dedicated to their craft." 

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November 7, 2013

Jean-Luc Matecat Becomes Executive Chef of the Inn at Weathersfield

157One of southern Vermont's most fêted culinary inns launches a nationwide search for a new chef. One of northern Vermont's most talented chefs is on the lookout for new opportunity. When they collide, love ensues.

Come November 22, Jean-Luc Matecat — who has been chef at the North Hero House, Amuse at the Essex and Winooski's Mule Bar — will move more than a hundred miles south to take over the kitchen recently vacated by longtime chef Jason Tostrup, who has joined Okemo Mountain Resort.

"It was a big decision, because I really didn't want to leave Burlington," says Matecat, but he suggests it was too sweet  an opportunity to ignore.

When Tostrup announced he was leaving the Inn where he had cooked for eight and a half years, owners Marilee and Richard Spanjian cast a wide net for a new chef, and received 80 applications from as far away as Europe and Thailand. (The Inn at Weathersfield has picked up accolades from Food & Wine, Saveur and Bon Appetit magazines, as well as Fodor's Travel Guides.)

After whittling down the pool, five chefs traveled to the Inn to cook for a search committee that included the Spanjians and former owner Jane Sandelman. Matecat showed up with some elk shank from an animal that his grandfather had shot at a private New Hampshire preserve — which he braised and served over cavatelli.

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November 5, 2013

The New Café Shelburne Is Serving BYOB Dinners

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A cute rabbit standing back-to-back with a giant chef's knife. The new logo makes it clear that this is not your grandmother's Café Shelburne.

IMG_6572And you can get a taste of the locally focused French fare now. New chef-owners Bill Iliff and Weston Nicoll (right) began their soft opening last weekend. The restaurant is now welcoming diners, as long as they bring their own wine. Café Shelburne will open officially, complete with wine list by Lauren Taratoot, by November 15.

The wines will focus on bottles from the Loire Valley, which the chefs compare to Vermont, but with a warmer summer that allows the grapes to grow more delicious. The wines are predominantly biodynamic, but Nicoll says this is because "the small producers we want to get, that's just how they're doing it. That's how their grandfathers did it — there's just a word for it now."

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October 29, 2013

After 20 Years, Trattoria Delia Owners Open a Wine Bar

SottoFor most of Trattoria Delia’s 20-year existence, its Italian-centric wine list has earned awards from the Wine Spectator. Yet would-be guests at the cozy Burlington spot may not always get to taste those wines, because the resto's popularity often means waiting for a table.

Tomorrow, Tratt owners Tom and Lori Delia will change that when they open Sotto Enoteca, a wine bar connected to the restaurant via a back hallway, and with an entrance a few feet north on Saint Paul Street.

"I've been working the concept in my mind for awhile," says Tom Delia. And when Mane Attraction vacated the space at 150 Saint Paul, he and Lori decided to lease it. "You have to challenge yourself and try new things."

Part wine bar and part overflow lounge, Sotto (“under” in Italian) will be open roughly in tandem with Trattoria's Tuesday through Sunday dinner hours, and will offer at least 17 Italian wines by the glass, including a Barolo and a Valpolicella Ripasso.

"We also wanted to represent some international varietals that are done well in Italy," says Delia, and so the glass list also includes some Italian-made Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as a Merlot-Cabernet blend. Guests who snag one of the 25 seats (six of them at the bar) can sip them alongside a handful of dishes from Trattoria’s menu. Those include the house-cured duck confit, snails with Sambuca, fried calamari and a selection of salumi and cheese plates.

Those who prefer other beverages can have their glass filled with beers such as Heady Topper, Fantôme Saison and brews from Hill Farmstead Brewery and Grassroots Brewing. And there's still more to drink: Manager Matthew Marrier has put togther a craft cocktail list that includes a re-creation of Ernest Hemingway's favorite daiquri (which the writer supposedly drank with grapefruit juice) and an "eggnog-esque" classic flip made with oatmeal stout, Amaro and a whole egg. It's called Breakfast In Bed.

"The whole concept is a place for our customers to wait, but also to be a kind of neighborhood wine bar, the place away from home where people can talk and grab a light bite," says Delia.

Welcome to the ’hood, Sotto.

 

October 16, 2013

Slow Food Vermont Awards its First 'Snails of Approval'

SnailOfApproval2Slow Food Vermont's membership drive just ended with tiny Vermont among the top four chapters in Slow Food USA to attract the most new members. But that's not the organization's only big news. Local restaurants are going slow with a new designation and a series of dinners.

Last year, just before the biennial international food conference Terra Madre, in Turin, Italy, Slow Food Vermont announced it would introduce the "Snail of Approval" to award to Vermont restaurants. The first two have finally been chosen.

The symbol at right is used worldwide to denote restaurants that adhere to Slow Food's ethic of "quality, authenticity and sustainability." The first two restaurants in Vermont to gain the honor are Mary's Restaurant at The Inn at Baldwin Creek and Hen of the Wood—Waterbury.

According to Mara Welton, Slow Food Vermont leader and Slow Food USA regional governor for New England, the restaurants were selected using an extremely exacting process. "That’s the point," says Welton. "We’re not just handing these out willy-nilly. We spent an enormous amount of time vetting."

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