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128 posts categorized "Alice Eats - Restaurant Reviews"

September 11, 2012

Alice Eats: The Mill Market & Deli

IMG_45981580 Dorset Street, South Burlington, 862-4602

It's apple season. While those with an interest in being outdoors go apple picking, I found a more passive way to enjoy the season's quarry. Right in South Burlington, the Mill Market & Deli has plenty of dishes that showcase the same local fruit the cider mill uses in its Chittenden's Sweet Apple Cider.

In early September, the Mill straddles the seasons. On my recent visit, locals were still hitting the creemee window, though the chocolate and (fresh berry) black raspberry machine was broken, leaving just vanilla and maple.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: The Mill Market & Deli" »

September 04, 2012

Alice Eats: India Palace

IMG_457969 Elliot Street, Brattleboro, 254-6143

Growing up outside New York City, my favorite flavors came from India. My earliest memory is of tandoori chicken.

When I moved to Vermont in 1998, I was nonplussed as to why something that seemed so effortless as preparing delicious, flavorful Indian food seemed so difficult within the borders of the Green Mountains.

My only hope was India Palace, a family-run restaurant in Brattleboro where I habitually stopped on my trips from Burlington to Connecticut. The food was flavorful, the meat was of good quality and the prices were astonishingly low.

IMG_4584I excitedly returned on Sunday for my first meal there in more than a decade. I found that India Palace wasn't bad, but it was no longer great, either. The food to price ratio, however, was still unbelievable.

I ordered the $21.95 tandoori dinner for one, which proved to be more of a tandoori dinner for three or four.

Immediately after ordering, I was presented with a cup of mulligatawny soup (above right). It smelled delicious, its cumin aroma sensuously filling the air. The lentil soup also had a spirited punch of acid, and as I swallowed it, black pepper lightly burned my throat.

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August 28, 2012

Alice Eats: The Inn at Shelburne Farms

2012-08-19 01.06.461611 Harbor Road, Shelburne, 985-8498

We all need a taste of luxury now and then. Usually, in those cases, we assume that those meals will be stressful on the wallet. But smart diners know that even at the finest restaurants, meals earlier in the day can cost a fraction of rich dinner prices. To give both me and my billfold a treat, I indulged in brunch at the Inn at Shelburne Farms.

We were led through the grand entrance to a table for two just below a painting of the original homeowner, Lila Vanderbilt Webb. It had taken me weeks to get a reservation, and the joint was indeed jumping. Our server warned us from the beginning that the kitchen was backed up and it would take 15 to 20 minutes for our food to arrive.

2012-08-19 01.21.13That ended up being more like 30 or 45 minutes, but good conversation in opulent surroundings is really the goal at Shelburne Farms. I wasn't in a hurry.

And the food was worth it. The veal and pork terrine was tender and smoky — perfect for a Sunday picnic in Provence. It was bathed in tarragon Hollandaise that had just a whisper of anise flavor. Eggs were poached perfectly and lent an extra layer of creaminess to the plate, which also included microgreens and an herb crostini. It was a delicious plate, but for $13, the portion was more like an appetizer than a hearty breakfast.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: The Inn at Shelburne Farms" »

August 14, 2012

Alice Eats: Pearl Street Diner

IMG_453485 Pearl St., Burlington, 862-3220

DoughBoy's Coffee Shop may have been the ultimate old Burlington diner. With a clientele split mostly between seniors and college students, it was a kind of spiritual cousin to Bove's Restaurant across the street. When it closed last summer, it left some big shoes to fill.

But Pearl Street Diner's owners, Pam Scanlon and Michael Niederer of Radio Deli, aren't trying to recreate DoughBoy's. Their tack is a little smarter. Along with diner classics, they're also serving up more creative fare with local ingredients.

One need only look at the condiments on the counter to get an idea of the aesthetic. Beside the ketchup, salt and cinnamon sugar, there's also Sriracha.

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August 07, 2012

Alice Eats: Burger Barn

IMG_45144968 Route 15, Jeffersonville, 730-3441

There are few simple pleasures better than a great burger. But the enjoyment can be even more intense when the burger is anything but simple.

If you haven't already, meet Burger Barn.

When I first wrote about the green and cow-spotted burger shack in 2010, the menu was already large, including 15 different cheese choices — they've since added red Leicester, for a grand total of 16.

But the bill of fare has continued to grow. There are now 35 different burgers, ranging from a classic patty with just lettuce, tomato and red onion, to the Bleu Royale, topped with bacon, caramelized onions and cave-aged Roquefort.

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July 31, 2012

Alice Eats: 99 Asian Market Eatery

IMG_4490242 N. Winooski Ave., Burlington, 865-0226

It's been almost two years since 99 Asian Market added "Eatery" to its name, set up some simple seating and expanded its menu beyond made-to-order banh mi and a hot bar.

I've eaten there plenty of times since, but for some reason, I've never shared the love on this blog. Perhaps I wanted to keep the secret to myself.

I usually order the same thing; the grilled pork bun (noodle salad) and an order of egg rolls are all I need. But while those are both excellent, they're not what make 99 special.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: 99 Asian Market Eatery" »

July 24, 2012

Alice Eats: Wilaiwan's Kitchen

IMG_444134 State St., Montpelier, no phone

Some restaurateurs try to make an impact with the size of their menus. Others are confident enough to know that it's the motion in the kitchen that counts.

With only two items on its menu, Wilaiwan's Kitchen is one of the latter. When I visited the tiny Montpelier storefront last week, the line snaked out the door. With only a few tables inside and out, several diners brought plastic containers or plates from home to take some food and get out of the way.

Wilaiwan's had made a name for itself over the years as a street cart, and it was clear that Montpelierites liked it just as much as a bricks-and-mortar restaurant, even if the two choices didn't include a vegetarian option. Perhaps the restaurant's abbreviated hours also contributed to the rush I encountered. Wilaiwan's is open only from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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July 17, 2012

Alice Eats: Essex Bakery & Café

IMG_440021 Essex Way, Essex, 878-1100

When I moved here from Connecticut in 1998, baked goods from the Essex were a definitive part of my Vermont experience. The chocolate-banana-mousse birthday cakes, the raspberry Charlottes — they were key parts of the taste of my adopted state.

After the resort broke away from the New England Culinary Institute, desserts seemed to flounder. But this spring,  executive chef Arnd Sievers hired pastry chef Perrin Williams and announced that the Essex Resort & Spa would be opening a bakery — the Essex Bakery & Café — in the former Rustico's space in the Essex Shoppes & Cinema. It gave me hope for a brave, new dessert world.

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July 10, 2012

Alice Eats: Sky Burgers

IMG_4371161 Church St., Burlington, 881-0642

For some reason, Sky Burgers is one of those places I just don't think of when considering my Burlington dining options. I should. It's a fun concept — creative dinners in burger form.

Sunday, I finally got it together to visit Sky Burgers for the first time since opening day, when I accompanied former Seven Days food editor Suzanne Podhaizer on her First Bite meal there. I was impressed at how the menu had grown, both in scale and innovation. There were far more than house-ground beef patties and chicken breasts. Burger options now range from quinoa to lobster.

IMG_4368However, in the spirit of outdoor dining and the pleasant weather, I ordered exclusively from the summer specials menu. That's where I found the new-and-improved fish taco. It was slaw-covered and soggy when I tried it two and a half years ago, but it's now a darn fine replication of fish-taco flavors in patty form.

The mahi mahi patty was lightly crusted in bread crumbs to approximate the feel of fried chunks of fish. The "slaw" was still there, but much less of it and not at all soggy. In fact, until I rechecked the menu, I thought it was supposed to be plain cabbage. Pico de gallo and crispy tortilla strips added even more crunch, but it was Holy Chipotle aioli that defined the creamy, spicy flavor.

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July 03, 2012

Alice Eats: Folino's Pizzeria

IMG_42996305 Shelburne Rd., Shelburne, 881-8822

It's shaping up to be the year of the pizza. Lately, when I haven't been dreaming of the chewy, charred crust at Pizzeria Verità, I've been trying to find time to try the pie at Folino's Pizzeria. On Sunday, I finally did.

The high-ceilinged Shelburne Road warehouse space that Folino's shares with Fiddlehead Brewing gets unpleasantly hot in the warm weather. But I wasn't staying anyway — the few indoor and outdoor tables were all full. I didn't mind retreating to my air-conditioned dinner table.

I watched as the pizzaioli crafted the pies and threw them in the 800-degreeIMG_4303 wood-burning oven. Minutes later, they emerged, ready for cutting and boxing. My salad came out of the fridge prepackaged, but my dessert, a special that day, took a little longer.

I didn't have high hopes for the prepackaged salad, but it quickly proved me wrong. The diverse mix made each bite unique. Daikon and parsley, meet cucumber and feta. A maple-balsamic vinaigrette gave the whole thing a lovely sweet-and-sour hit. The veggies were chopped so fine that, by the time I was done, some were practically pickled by the dressing, which lent a whole new taste and texture.

But the goal of the trip was pizza. First stop, Margherita.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Folino's Pizzeria" »

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