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April 20, 2010

Alice Eats: Dutch Mill Family Restaurant

4309 Shelburne Road, Shelburne 985-3568


I've lived in Vermont for 12 years. For 12 years, I passed the Dutch Mill and fantasized about it. Was it as old-timey as it looks on the outside? Did the interior have a mini golf theme to go with the windmill? Maybe it was falling apart around the diners, with cobwebs at every table! My hunger for knowledge finally drove me to Shelburne on Sunday.

I was encouraged by a barbecue smoker in the parking lot. It turns out they smoke their own meat for pulled pork sandwiches. But I was there with breakfast in mind. The crowd was as I hoped – I was at least 30, if not 40 years younger than every other patron. No wonder there is more than one sign in the place advertising catering for birthdays, rehearsal dinners and funerals. The room was bright and cheerful, more family restaurant than diner.

The menu was chock full of appealing takes on basic breakfast, with an old-fashioned flair. Eggs Fred (pictured) stood out immediately. Poached eggs, corned beef hash, home fries and homemade toast? No way could that go wrong. The tangy corned beef had less body than I'm used to – almost as if it had been ground rather than chopped, but as it fell apart with the tiny flecks of potatoes in the surprisingly light hollandaise, I couldn't complain.

We also gave the first breakfast listed on the menu a try. It included choice of pancakes or french toast. For an extra dollar, I added delicate wild blueberries to the large cakes. Despite their plate-filling size, the flapjacks were almost crepelike in their lightness. Sausage patties were likely store-bought, but slightly spicier and more flavorful than one often finds in a diner setting. Home fries were crisp and well-seasoned.

Going to the Dutch Mill is an experience — eating in a historical place among people who have been there through the years. Given the fetching time capsule experience, I'll forgive an up-charge for real maple syrup and the odd line of char on a baked good.

Next time, I'll keep that in mind when I order. Hot open pork sandwich, perhaps?

I like to call that place The Hidden Gem.

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