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October 15, 2013

Alice Eats: Guild Fine Meats

IMG_6453111 St. Paul St., Burlington, 497-1645

It's called the Bad Idea, but that's a misnomer. It's actually a very, very good idea.

I've met my share of breakfast sandwiches and burgers served on doughnuts. Usually they're overkill that require a nap for dessert. Guild Fine Meats' Bad Idea is different. Like everything from the Farmhouse Group, the offerings at the brand-new deli and butcher shop have a sheen of sophistication and great taste.

After visiting the Guild Commissary for this week's feature, I was eager to try as much as I could this weekend.

The soon-to-be-legendary sandwich starts with a very special doughnut. Neither doughnuts nor maple are ordinarily my thing, but pastry chef Samantha Noakes has combined the two to create one of my new favorite desserts. She told me it was loosely modeled on the pastries from Krispy Kreme, and Noakes captured the airy, cloudlike quality of those doughnuts. But these are far more subtle, with just enough sweetness.

IMG_6454In the case of the Bad Idea, the doughnut is cut in half and filled with an egg. I got mine over-easy and the yolk stood at attention in the doughnut's hole. Thin breakfast sausage and enough Vermont cheddar to make everything stick made the whole thing a delightful breakfast treat.small And it won't result in a food hangover.

Having seen the deli meats being made earlier in the week, I tried a pair of sandwiches that showed off more than one each.

First, there was the T-Bone Deluxe (right). Chef Tom Deckman's ham had an excellent balance of salt and sweetness, with just a hint of smoke. Turkey had a stronger smoke flavor but still tasted of the high-quality Adams Turkey Farm bird that it once was.

IMG_6455My one complaint about sandwiches at GFM is that I'd like more meat in ratio to the bread. I would be happier if the meat were increased or the bready rolls made thinner. As it is, the eating experience was a tad dry, despite melted Muenster, crisp slices of apple, cultured veggies from Flack Family Farm, lettuce and zippy mustard aioli.

This was less an issue in the Italian sub (right), perhaps partly due to my choice of white bread instead of wheat. The former is a bit more crisp, resulting in a more complex bite.

A dose of oil and vinegar helped moisten the sandwich, too. The acid also paired wonderfully with the meats: sweet mortadella and well-spiced capicola. There were no pickled peppers, as listed on the menu, but if there had been they might have overwhelmed the subtler rewards of the flesh. Lettuce and tomato were all the sandwich needed for a hint of éclat. Like the Bad Idea, the Italian is a more sophisticated but still viscerally enjoyable take on a classic.

IMG_6456The chocolate chip cookie has already become legendary at the Seven Days office. After Fresh Market closed, we were adrift for a perfect specimen to brighten a long day. The one at GFM is what we've been looking for. The perpetually soft chocolate chips; the chewy, buttery cookie... All the elements are there. I've yet to try one fresh out of the oven, but, honestly, I don't know if I could handle it.

A newer discovery for me was Noakes' chocolate stout cake. I'd admired its shiny visual perfection but was unprepared for its gooey deliciousness. Just as the chocolate chip cookie is a slightly less-sweet, more grown-up ideal, the cake hits with a wallop of chocolate, not sugar. There's just enough stout to remind me of beer batter without getting me drunk.

Who would have expected my favorite things at a deli and butcher shop would be the sweets?

Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to [email protected].

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