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February 4, 2014

Alice Eats: Parkway Diner

IMG_72451696 Williston Road, South Burlington, 652-1155

This weekend, I fell in love. Diner love, one of the most important kinds in my line of work, right up there with eros, agape and sushi.

Coming from the New York City suburbs, where diner food is a proud regional tradition, I have taken nearly 16 years in Vermont to find a diner that I considered completely acceptable. But it's finally happened. And best of all, the Parkway Diner is right in my neighborhood.

You might be thinking, It's just diner food, what's the big deal? One thing is the enviable freshness of the product, very clear in the above-average salad at right. And that's in the off season. Owner Corey Gottfried says he plans to source local ingredients come summer.

IMG_7247The basil-speckled tomato soup was also delicious. And for $4.75, the combo could have made a satisfying meal on its own.

Each day there's a choice of two homemade soups, but I might make a special trip for a repeat of the thick, rich tomato.

No such efforts are necessary for one of the best burgers I've had in recent memory: The VT Burger is always on the menu.

The fluffy, slightly sweet, brioche-style bun was griddled for a crisp, buttery finish. It brought me back to happy childhood meals at Fuddrucker's, a chain with the slogan "Better Buns, Better Burger." At Parkway, it was so true.

The burger itself was ideally seasoned with just enough salt and pepper to bring out the natural taste of the juicy beef.

The Spicy Burger with fried onions and jalapeños piqued my interest, but I suspect I'll be sticking to the VT Burger for its dual crunch of fresh apple and delightfully crisped bacon, and its layer of sharp cheddar that bites through the apple's sweetness.

IMG_7248As much of a triumph as the burger was, my diner food of choice has always been the hot turkey sandwich, and the Parkway nailed it.

While I was eating, a cook took from the oven two whole turkeys surrounded by vegetables. Clearly, I'm not the only one loving the turkey.

One of the keys to the sandwich's success was its combination of white and dark meats. The white was meltingly tender, while the dark gave it flavor and texture.

The giblet-flecked gravy boasted the complex flavors contributed by the symbiosis of turkey and veggies roasted together. I appreciated the extra cup of gravy I was given along with my basket of crisp, skin-on fries.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go finish my hot turkey leftovers so I can stop drooling.

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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