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Bite Club: Vermont's Food & Drink Blog

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April 2013

April 16, 2013

Alice Eats: Aleka's

IMG_5483103 Margaret Street, Plattsburgh, NY, 518-310-3200

As wonderful and varied as Vermont's dining options are, sometimes I have to catch a ferry to get what I'm after. Plattsburgh is the closest place for me to get satisfactory Indian food — at Karma Indian Restaurant. Now I can add Aleka's as the across-the-lake place to fill the Greek hole in my soul.

The food at this restaurant, which opened last fall, reminded me of what I grew up eating in the New York City suburbs, where practically every convenience store had a kick-ass gyro.

Everyone with whom I interacted at Aleka's was exceptionally friendly. When I told my server that I'd seen a video online of the restaurant's chef making saganaki, she went into the kitchen to see if the crew could do the same for me, even though the sometime special wasn't on the menu that day.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Aleka's" »

April 12, 2013

Grazing, Seafood Edition: Oysters With Pickled Blueberries & Foie Gras Aioli; Ahoy Matey Wrap

Oysters_bluebirdA few months back, a reader complained that we write about Bluebird Tavern too often. Apologies in advance — but this week I ate something at Bluebird that was too amazing to ignore. Yeah, it was oysters again, though on this occasion, they were broiled and dolloped with foie gras aioli (!) and ... pickled blueberries. Yup. If someone set this quartet of oysters down in front of you, menu unseen, you might not be able to pick out the individual parts; but taken together, each shell was filled with a silky, creamy, luscious mass kissed with a hint of pucker.

Four oysters cost $16. Not an everyday treat, but a treat to be sure — and a fleeting one. It's unclear how long they'll be on the menu until chef Michael Clauss changes it up yet again. But any chef who thinks to pickle his blueberries and marry oysters with foie is someone to whom I have no problem handing over me life. (The Bluebird mini-empire also just added a breakfast and lunch spot at the Innovation Center, and it's tasty, but that's a post for another day).

Continue reading "Grazing, Seafood Edition: Oysters With Pickled Blueberries & Foie Gras Aioli; Ahoy Matey Wrap" »

April 10, 2013

Community Health Centers To Raffle Off Bottle of '82 Mouton Rothschild

MoutonMeet the 1982 Château Mouton Rothschild, one of the most sought-after bottles in the world from one of the most historic vintages. Upon its release, the opulent wines sold for about $125 each, an amount that one Burlingtonian who snapped up a few at the time calls "really cheap."

Flash forward thirty years. That collector left the wine-trade job that he held for decades, but still has a cellar filled with incredible bottles. When he found out that Community Health Centers of Burlington — which maintain a center a few blocks from his Old North End home — were having a wine auction to raise funds, he trekked down to his stone-lined cellar and unearthed the '82 Mouton Rothschild. It's a wine that received a rare perfect 100 points from wine critic Robert Parker, and one that sells for more than $1000 now. "It was just too valuable for me to open and appreciate," says the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous.

Kimberly Anderson is thrilled with the donation. As CHCB's development manager, she's been working for months to plan "Salud: A Doctor's Night Out," an auction of dozens of rare and interesting wines that takes place on April 16 at the Old Lantern in Charlotte. "We were so thrilled and humbled that this donor thought of us. I love the fact that someone from our own backyard is helping us to help the whole community," wrote Anderson in an email. She's thankful all around; some of the other bottles in the auction come from the likes of Cakebread Cellars, Opus One and Silver Oak. All of the proceeds benefit a center that serves 17,000 Burlington residents every year.

Continue reading "Community Health Centers To Raffle Off Bottle of '82 Mouton Rothschild" »

April 9, 2013

Alice Eats: Three Brothers Pizza & Grill

IMG_5471973 Roosevelt Highway, Colchester, 655-5550

Sometimes places fly under my radar until I hear that they have fried brownie bites. Such was the case with Three Brothers Pizza & Grill, a casual pizzeria and sandwich spot adjacent to a gas station in Colchester, just up Roosevelt Highway from Main Street, Winooski.

But when one of the three brothers, Rami Faour, sent me his Vermont Restaurant Week menu, I knew I couldn't wait until April 26 to try his restaurant.

The specials menu alone was so large that it was nearly impossible to decide. Braised veal-and-beef tortellacci in veal Marsala sauce? Sounded delicious, but I decided to stick to the enormous selection on the regular bill of fare.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: Three Brothers Pizza & Grill" »

April 5, 2013

Grazing: Crispy Artichoke Hearts at Buono Appetito


I've worked in Burlington for just over two years, so there are still scores of restaurants I've never visited. I ate at The Daily Planet for the first time (ever!) this spring and have yet to hit the Inn at Shelburne Farms and so many other iconic places.

Not quite iconic, but seemingly beloved, is Buono Appetito, a nondescript — at least from the outside — place on Route 7 in Shelburne that people have urged me to visit for months — especially since chef Sevie Cartularo took over the kitchen of his family's restaurant.

BrusselsI dropped in for the first time on a wintry night last week, and the place seemed to have a split personality: In the back a guitarist strummed to a bar full of drinkers. Up front were some quiet, old-school dining rooms. At first glance, the menu looked well stocked with standard-bearers such as pizza and eggplant Parmigiana. In their midst, however, were tantalizing things such as squid-ink spaghetti and an entire section of funky small plates. With the wind whipping around outside, I mainlined some crispy, garlicky brussels sprouts tarted up with capers and lemon — I later learned it was a favorite of food writer/editor Melissa Pasanen, who wrote up the dish for Vermont Life — and some floppy pappardelle smothered in spicy sausage and a silky tomato sauce smoothed with a splash of milk.

Continue reading "Grazing: Crispy Artichoke Hearts at Buono Appetito" »

April 2, 2013

Three Penny, Mad Taco Owners Team Up to Open Craft Beer Bar in Winooski


The corner of Main and Union streets in Winooski is returning to its barroom roots on May 1, when Scott Kerner and Wes Hamilton of Montpelier's Three Penny Taproom and Joey Nagy of the Mad Taco open a new craft beer spot, Mule Bar, in the former Pho Pasteur space.

Yes, Pho Pasteur closed this morning, and Mule Bar will take its place in about four weeks. "We've been waiting to get into Winooski for a long time," says Kerner. "This feels like a city with a great vibe." Kerner told Seven Days a few weeks ago that he's "freaking pumped" about the new spot at 38 Main Street.

Mule Bar will have 49 seats — including 16 outside — with a long bar along one wall and a few high-tops along another. The room will be airy, like the dining room at Three Penny — or what contractor Eyrich Stauffer of Stauffer Woodworking calls "Danish modern saloon." Mule Bar will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, with brunch on Sunday (more on the food below).

Many Winooski-ites had already heard rumors about Mule Bar, but Kerner and Nagy were reticent to reveal their plans to the media until their proverbial ducks were in a row: a liquor license and a signed lease.

Two weeks ago, Guy Page of the Winooski Bridge was at the Winooski City Council meeting in which Kerner applied (and was approved) for a city liquor license, and Page reported it in his newsletter. 

This morning at 11, Kerner and Nagy finally signed their lease in a deal that was brokered by Peter Yee of Yellow Sign Commercial. By 12:30 p.m., they were in the space with Stauffer and their new chef — Jean-Luc Matecat, former chef at Amuse at the Essex.

Matecat says that Mule Bar will have a "local, ever-changing" menu to complement the tap list. He's already started seedlings in his living room for the restaurant's future garden, which will be up the street in the Landry Community Garden.

Continue reading "Three Penny, Mad Taco Owners Team Up to Open Craft Beer Bar in Winooski" »

Alice Eats: HJ House

IMG_543895 St. Paul St., Burlington, 881-0336

Since its opening, I've been a fan of HJ House, especially its inexpensive lunch deals. The $7.99 bento box filled with spicy, cold noodles; tomato-and-cucumber salad; calamari; and a bowl of miso soup is one of my favorite workday lunch deals.

But when I reviewed the spot in 2010, I was less than impressed with the ramen. Now, I'm ready to endorse it.

In recent months, the noodle soups have become one of my go-to meals when I'm downtown. The problem is, I'm in the minority. Despite good food, low prices and a friendly atmosphere, I'm usually one of the only patrons at HJ House when I visit.

Continue reading "Alice Eats: HJ House" »

Heady Topper Wins the Vermont Brew Bracket for the Second Time

Congratulations are in order for the Alchemist once again: Heady Topper is the winner of the 2013 Vermont Brew Bracket, presented by Three Penny Taproom.

Heady Topper's road to victory was a little bit bumpier this year. Last year it bowled over Switchback in the Final Pour, and Lawson's Double Sunshine IPA in the championship. But Switchback proved a much more formidable opponent in 2013. The vote was a nailbiter all weekend, as a few lead changes ultimately ended with Heady Topper squeaking out the win over Switchback, 51 percent to 49 percent. The margin was fewer than 100 votes out of 2822 total.

Continue reading "Heady Topper Wins the Vermont Brew Bracket for the Second Time" »

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