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July 10, 2012

Alice Eats: Sky Burgers

IMG_4371161 Church St., Burlington, 881-0642

For some reason, Sky Burgers is one of those places I just don't think of when considering my Burlington dining options. I should. It's a fun concept — creative dinners in burger form.

Sunday, I finally got it together to visit Sky Burgers for the first time since opening day, when I accompanied former Seven Days food editor Suzanne Podhaizer on her First Bite meal there. I was impressed at how the menu had grown, both in scale and innovation. There were far more than house-ground beef patties and chicken breasts. Burger options now range from quinoa to lobster.

IMG_4368However, in the spirit of outdoor dining and the pleasant weather, I ordered exclusively from the summer specials menu. That's where I found the new-and-improved fish taco. It was slaw-covered and soggy when I tried it two and a half years ago, but it's now a darn fine replication of fish-taco flavors in patty form.

The mahi mahi patty was lightly crusted in bread crumbs to approximate the feel of fried chunks of fish. The "slaw" was still there, but much less of it and not at all soggy. In fact, until I rechecked the menu, I thought it was supposed to be plain cabbage. Pico de gallo and crispy tortilla strips added even more crunch, but it was Holy Chipotle aioli that defined the creamy, spicy flavor.

Not eager to double up on the fried stuff, I asked my server if it would be possible to trade steak fries for a salad. She told me I could select any of the three on the menu. What she neglected to mention was that it would be an additional $2. I learned this only when I got the check. When I asked her about it, she told me I should have seen it on the menu. Thanks.

I liked that the Caesar was topped with chewy sundried tomatoes to break up the usually one-note texture. However, the roasted red pepper dressing was low on flavor. The garlic and citrus I expect were completely absent — this tasted like mayonnaise with chunks of pepper in it.

IMG_4369With the Vermonter burger, we stuck with the thick, batter-crisped fries. This was a knife-and-fork burger if ever there was one. What the menu described as a Vermont maple syrup drizzle was more of a shower.

With the soft, slightly sweet bun soaked in maple syrup, I thought the burger's overall taste and texture was similar to that of a short stack of pancakes. Maple-cured McKenzie Country Classics bacon also enhanced the illusion. The only tastes that contradicted it were fried onion straws and a thick layer of sharp Cabot cheddar.

Somehow, though, it worked. My only complaint was the maple-brined turkey patty itself. Chunks of it were made from what appeared to be un- or under-ground connective tissue. They were almost too tough to bite through.

IMG_4373We knew a milkshake was a must at Sky Burgers. The Mounds shake, flavored with toasted coconut and chocolate, was advertised as a staff favorite. The coconut flavor was indeed rich, but its pale color betrayed the lack of chocolate.

As our server suggested, we also ordered the Sundae in Vermont on that Sunday in Vermont.

The horned construction was composed of slightly dry French toast sticks anchored by giant scoops of vanilla ice cream. The whole thing was topped with maple syrup, though not enough to flavor the overdose of ice cream. Twin clouds of sweet maple cotton candy helped. In battle, I would have been proud to fight alongside that dessert. And it confirmed that Sky Burgers, while not flawless, should stay on my radar.

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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