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July 06, 2010

Alice Eats: QTee's

IMG_1059 237 North Winooski Avenue, Burlington 658-3668

I didn't think I'd have to do this, but apparently I do: There are people out there who still don't know about QTee's. Whenever I explain where 99 Asian Market is — right across the street from QTee's — it seems people don't know what I'm talking about. "Where Dairy Queen was," I clarify. Then they understand, but it hasn't been Dairy Queen for years. The inevitable next question: "Is it still good?"

As far as Burlington-area fast food goes, it's among the best. Each month I take a picture of QTee's rotating creemee-flavor schedule and follow it religiously. They always have chocolate and vanilla, but other flavors, from orange to Kahlua, appear in two-day spurts. I like to show up on mint and pistachio days. I've yet to make it over for blueberry, but it's on my calendar — literally.

First things first, though. Pre-creemee, I recommend stopping inside for something savory. I just discovered the Roadhouse burger: two patties with cheese, bacon, barbecue sauce and an onion ring. It sounds simple but it's sublime, with just the right mix of salt, sweetness and crunch.

Even though they call their Michigans "chili dogs," the sausages are worthy of entry into the pantheon. They take the word "chili" seriously, and include a healthy dose of chile powder. I like mine with a squirt of mustard to add some tangy zip to the earthy meat.

Fries are handcut with skin left on. They are paler than many Vermont fast food fries. Don't let that fool you, they are every bit as crisp, if not more so.

After you finish your dinner, I'll allow you to have some ice cream. Whatever the flavor, I recommend a kids'-size sundae, preferably served in a mini plastic baseball hat. At least that's how I roll.

Another glowing review of factory farmed nastiness by Alice Levitt. She really seems to love this type of food. The sad thing is, this food makes people obese, sick, and diabetic. It's a shame that 7days is helping promote it.

Michigans and Chili Dogs are two completely different things. Michigan sauce is a food all it's own. I would think that someone from around here should know that!

And Scott- lighten up! Everyone deserves a cheeseburger and a creemee once in a while- otherwise why is life worth living?

I have to agree with Scott. It's hard to read Alice Levitt's food reviews anymore as she so often bestows lavish praise on such run-of-the-mill "fast food." She just loves those burgers, wings, fries, etc. "Nastiness" captures it perfectly and I'm far from a virtuous vegan when it comes to food. How can she describe an over the top double bacon cheeseburger (BBQ sauce and onion ring?) as "sublime"?! And her pro-meat stance, blithely dismissing or ignoring the ethical and health implications, is tiresome. I know it is a counterpoint to the more earnest locavore writing that's also in Seven Days but come on!

Gross. Does she know what she's eating? Does she know where it comes from or why the food is so cheap? These reviews belong on some Midwestern food blog. Mysterious, sysco food is killing Americans. Help stop the madness, not help promote it.

It does seem odd that 7d doesn't have a vegetarian food writer. Especially considering the dietary demographics here - Vermont has been ranked the #1 healthiest state in the U.S. for the past three years according to the United Health Foundation which compiles surveillance data from state health departments. A large portion of that ranking comes from the stats regarding daily fruit and vegetable consumption per capita (in which Vermont has ranked #1 in the U.S. since 2004), and lower comparative incidence of ailments positively linked to excessive meat consumption like hypertension, heart disease, obesity, and type II diabetes prevalence. According to the USDA we are among the lowest in per capita fast food expenditures and overall beef consumption.

We all know 7d loves writing that pushes buttons and invokes controversy, but the point of that is to keep people passionate and wanting to find out what will be published next, right? But there must be a logical saturation point when readers start to lose interest because the topics and tone are so consistently alienating. I don't know... you guys have been in the business for a long time so you probably know what you're doing and what "sells" better than I.

I like Alice and I'm definitely not attacking her - most food writers focus exclusively on higher end restaurants that are unaffordable to me, and I frickin' love junk and novelty food so I appreciate her coverage. But maybe her voice could be balanced with a sassy, savvy vegetarian freelancer?

It's not like there are lots of restaurants that go un-reviewed. I think they just review everyone. Solely focusing on the positive is a choice, maybe not the one I would make but in a small state it's understandable. Music reviews are pretty much done the same way, no one bitches when shitty bands get a good review.

Thanks for the comments people. I found myself ready to head over after reading this (Im hungry) but you remind me how gross the food actually is. Now, where to get my more healthy unhealthy junk food?

Hi all,
First of all, I'd like to thank you for reading and taking the time to respond to Alice Eats! The point of the weekly post is to bring attention to a local business that is affordable (I try to stay under $30 for two) and might not normally get ink in the paper. They are usually wholehearted recommendations, but not always. In the case of QTee's, I do genuinely enjoy the food, and wanted to let people know that if they're in search of a fast food fix, it's a worthwhile one.

I am not advising that people eat like this every day. I generally eat a meal there once a season. Personally, I think the point of fast food is that it's a little gross, and that's okay once in a while. If you think it's "nastiness," that's okay, too. I don't intend every single review to be helpful to every single reader. Tastes simply vary too much.

I imagine that most negative posters have not actually tried QTee's. Bashing a local business that has been in one Burlington family since 1959 just seems mean. This is their livelihood and they work hard. You may choose not to eat their factory farmed meats, but for the business to survive, please don't judge others who do.

That said, I am always on the hunt for new Alice Eats subjects. If you have relatively unknown restaurants that you'd like to recommend I would be thrilled to hear! Who knows, you could clue me in to a new favorite!

Classy classist comments. Fast Food? Oh the horrors. It's almost as if all the low income families of the Old North End don't have the time or the income to eat fresh food every meal.

Molly, Lauren Ober, who often writes articles for the food section, is a vegetarian. We do have fewer of them on staff than we used to -- I used to be a vegetarian, but I switched teams when my partner was pregnant with our son in 2005.

Alice, please. Don't sugarcoat what's really going on here, which is that you love disgusting, cheap, fast food and you love writing about it. This food kills people, causes disease, makes people fat, and is slowly ruining America, and now sadly other parts of the world. You can pass it off as 'i only eat it once a month' or 'what's the big deal?' but by doing so you just make yourself and your writing less and less intelligent sounding. So go ahead, have another double burger.

Cathy, how do I find those articles? Using the search feature I could only really find one that was about eating, the "foreignvore" piece from last year. The rest of her food articles looked like they were local agriculture profiles.

Oh, lighten up people. Go get a creamee and enjoy the summer.

People who want to torch places like QTee's saw "Food, Inc." and are reacting the same way they did when the saw "Sicko" and immediately started demanding Single Payer in Vermont, conveniently ignoring the fact that it's technically impossible.

Yes, eating that food all the time is bad. But the law of averages says that eating it once every couple of months will not be the thing that kills you. Ask your doctor and he/she will tell you the same thing.

Why are so many of the comments that support this food review so defensive? I mean, if you eat this stuff and love it, then say so but don't criticize other commenters by telling us to "lighten up." Or accuse us of being "classist."

I have never been to QTee's and after Alice's review, I intend to go before the summer has ended because, admittedly, I love the summer balance of unhealthy foods and playing in the sun all day. And hopefully, I'll find time for a Beansie's Michigan, Al's French Fries, Big Fatty's pulled pork, a Ben and Jerry's cone, and a nice cold Switchback. I love Vermont summers!

You take the good with the bad. I eat a good amount of veggies, I run and bike, and then I ruin it all with a big helping of greasy, delicious food. All in moderation.

That said, I totally want a bacon burger right now. And yes, I know it's only 8:45am.

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