In December, we learned that the team behind the Mad Taco would be renovating the Montpelier location. Previously a Subway, the spot had retained a fast-food feel in its transition to tacos. Owners Joey Nagy and Wes Hamilton, also the team behind Cast Iron Catering, aimed to beautify the space and make it more inviting for lengthy hangouts, rather than quick drop-ins.
Vermonters who grew up out of state might recall family breakfasts at chrome-plated diners, where pages-long laminated menus offered eggs, French dip sandwiches, gyros and ice cream sundaes, accompanied by full-color photos of each dish.
Kids from here, however, are more likely to remember greasy breakfasts courtesy of shingled roadside shacks, summer snackbars and truck stops, where aging waitresses would offer O.J. in brown plastic tumblers and jiggly eggs mixed with cheddar cheese, served with home-baked bread.
On the eastern side of the state, P&H Truck Stop, just off of Exit 17 on Interstate 91 in Wells River, is a breakfast institution. Bakers prepare fresh breads and dozens of pies daily, made with old-fashioned shortening crusts and filled with everything from blueberries or apples to pecans, maple or coconut custard. The peanut butter cream is a local favorite. As teenagers, my friends and I would stop by for a late-night slice of pie or plate of French fries — the dining room was open 24 hours then.
Updated February 21 with additional details on the new Spot location.
This week, Al and Kim Gobeille announced via social media that they are closing Breakwater Café & Grill, the dockside pub at the bottom of King Street. "It is so hard to share the news that we have decided to move on as owners and operators of this great place," the couple wrote on Breakwater's Facebook page.
File | Matthew Thorsen
Though they declined to cite a reason for the closure, the Gobeilles added that they'd continue running their other two waterfront businesses, Shanty on the Shore and Burlington Bay Market & Café. And they wished their customers and past employees "fair skies, light breezes and beautiful sunsets."
After playing phone tag with a reporter between meetings on Friday, Al Gobeille ultimately could not be reached for comment. That's not surprising: He's a busy man. In addition to running his restaurants, Gobeille chaired the Green Mountain Care Board since 2013. In December, Gov. Phil Scott tapped him to be secretary of the Agency of Human Services.
But all is not lost for the popular lakeside pub. This summer, it will be reborn as a second location for the Spot, confirmed general manager Shannon Lipkin. She said that owner Russ Scully plans to renovate the building and open in mid-May.
According to permitting documents filed with the city of Burlington on February 17, the new location will be called the Spot on the Dock.
Raise a glass! The new Dedalus Wine aims to open its doors at 388 Pine Street on Monday, February 20. The longtime Burlington wine store is leaving its current quarters at 180 Battery Street for an expanded spot promising much more than just wine.
Along with an enormous range of bottles, the warehouse-size space — formerly home to Burlington Furniture Company — will also house a curated stock of charcuterie, imported specialty goods, cheeses and breads, plus a full-menu wine bar open seven days a week.
Dedalus owner Jason Zuliani recently gave me a sneak peek inside. Spoiler alert: My tour ended with a tasting of the current menu, which turned into a two-hour feast sluiced with wine samples and enough cheese to make even pro Catherine Donnelly blush. But let’s begin with the tour.
Owners' names: Ling Cai "Mike" Chen; Li Juan "Lee" Chen Owners' native city/province in China: Guangzhou (Canton), Guangdong Prices: Soup, $2.50-$3.50; appetizers, $1.95-$9.75; entrées, $6.95-$12.95; fried rice: $5.25-$7.95 Lunch special: Most menu entrées, plus fried rice and appetizer, $4.50-$8.50 Drinks: Complimentary black tea is mild and roasty; soft drinks, served in tall plastic tumblers; midcentury and tiki cocktails mixed strong; scorpion bowls make for a party. Quirky dishes: "Chef's Special" lo mein boasts an array of vegetables, seafood and meats — and ham pieces. Fortune cookie: To find yourself, think for yourself.
I wandered into Sandy's Books & Bakery at 30 North Main in Rochester for the first time last spring. I was on a hunt for The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations From Two Great American Cooks — a landmark culinary tome by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. And I'd heard through the grapevine that this two-story house decked in tea lights had a bountiful book selection.
I didn't find the book, but I did discover a go-to eating stop for journeys that take me over Bethel Mountain Road. The draw, other than a veritable treasure trove of new and used books, is that the fare at Sandy's is made from scratch, easy on the wallet and steeped in local products.
After Rachel Collier had her first child, she researched best practices for introducing solid foods to little ones. In the process, bone broth — which is made by simmering bones slowly over a long period of time to extract as many nutrients as possible — came up again and again. Now, it's not only a part of her family's daily diet, it's also the basis for her business, the Simmering Bone. "It's pretty amazing stuff," she explains.
For its February wine dinner, Stowe's Cork Wine Bar & Market journeys through rocky Grecian hills for a closer look at small-production Anatolian wines, paired with four courses from head chef Dave Davey. Start with sardines and mussels and a crisp, citrusy white from Santorini. Then dive into grilled mezze snacks such as pork souvlaki, springy halloumi cheese and smoke-kissed vegetables, served with dips, spreads and breads. A dark and aromatic Xinomavro from Macedonia plays up the earth tones in an entrée of lamb moussaka, while Kir-Yianni's sparkling pink Akakies complements a honey-tinged sweet treat to finish.
In February 2008, Pho Hong opened in the former bus station on North Winooski Avenue. At the time, it was the Burlington area's third Vietnamese restaurant. But Pho Hong introduced to many local diners the rice-noodle soup called pho. It is typically made with spiced beef broth and laced with onion or shallot, cilantro, basil, scallion and bean sprouts.
At the time, I lived in the Old North End and thought it was thrilling to have the restaurant in my hood. As with any just-opened spot, there was the excitement of discovering new dishes, or new spins on familiar ones. Nine years after those initial meals, Pho Hong is still on my regular restaurant rotation, especially when my food budget is small. And the namesake soup is even better now. On Thursday nights, at least, so is the service.
Usually, upon arriving in Montréal, I head straight for a ramen shop. The thought of soft-cooked eggs and toothsome noodles in rich broth is an irresistible draw. This time, though, as we walked down Rue Sherbrooke Ouest, my friend pointed out a colorful sign reading "kantapia: cuisine coréenne."