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February 03, 2009

Best Bites: A Single Pebble's Tasting Lunch

Time for another installment in our weekly Best Bites series, where Seven Days writers share some of their favorite restaurants and meals...

If it’s early afternoon and you've got an empty stomach (and $15 bucks), you can drop the dough on a turkey sandwich, bag of chips and an organic fruit juice; but if you really want to make your money work for you, visit A Single Pebble in Burlington.

When the server drops off the menu and a cast-iron pot brimming with complimentary loose-leaf tea, tell her that you'd like the chef’s tasting menu ($15 per person). Why? Because the seven-course extravaganza — featuring a wide variety of authentic Chinese dishes — is likely the most exciting lunch you can get for the price. And it’s different every time.

The meal always begins with a small bowl of soup. On my last visit (yes, I’ve indulged many times) it was egg drop. The delicate strands of egg swam in a rich chicken-broth base, garnished with scallions, chicken pieces, kernels of corn and a drizzle of sesame oil.

Next came a pair of pork pot-stickers. A slightly bitter watercress salad contrasted nicely with the meaty dumplings. 

The garlic chive chicken — crisp poultry pieces bathed in a sweet and tangy sauce — was a standout. “It’s like an authentic version of General Tso’s,” my husband remarked happily, as he snagged another piece with his chopsticks.

Our other favorite was a dish that paired flecks of well-seasoned pork with thick round “pancake” noodles that could be mistaken for water chestnut slices at a distance.

We finished with a tiny scoop of strawberry sorbet and another of green-tea ice cream — notable because it was less gritty than most.

There were several other dishes, too — a couple included seafood — And although we didn’t love them equally, every one was good.

Another bonus: If you’re in a hurry, the kitchen can really step up the pace to get you in-and-out in under an hour. Delicious.

A Single Pebble
133 Bank Street, Burlington, 865-5200

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