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Entrées and Updates 

Side Dishes: Surf cuisine, sports and more Vietnamese

click to enlarge The Spot
  • The Spot

Aloha! With a 150-gallon saltwater fish tank, lots of bamboo décor and dishes named after surfing hot spots, eating at The Spot on Shelburne Road is a bit like taking a tropical vacation.

The breakfast-and-lunch café, which opened last Saturday, is the brainchild of water-sports fan Russ Scully, whose day job is designing websites for Propeller Media. Since he’s not a chef, Scully brought in Chantal and Lia Beliveau, owners of Outer Space café on Flynn Avenue, to design the menu and help whip up dishes such as the Da Hui, an omelette stuffed with bacon, spinach and blue cheese.

So far, Scully says, the two best sellers are The Rincon — eggs, black beans, salsa and avocado in a New World Tortilla wrap — and the fish tacos. “We were predicting that [the tacos] would be a hallmark of the menu, and it looks like the customers have agreed,” he says. The Spot’s version features mango salsa, shredded lettuce and cabbage, and chipotle sauce.

On a stretch of Route 7 with very few restaurants, Scully says the new joint has been well received by hungry residents. “We’ve gotten an overwhelming amount of feedback from neighborhood people saying, ‘Thank you for doing this,’” he notes.

Sharp-eyed pedestrians on St. Paul Street may have noticed a new paint job and tables seemingly ready for customers at the former Meñores location. Now maroon and black inside, with several flat-screen TVs in evidence, the place is gearing up to open some time in August as an upscale American eatery and sports bar called 156 Bistro.

Owned by Chef Kevin Des Chenes and a silent partner — with former New England Wings owner Kevin Mccabe as assistant GM — the eatery bears the tagline “culinary excellence combined with sport entertainment.” Unlike most sports bars, this one will offer menu items such as salmon with crystallized ginger, a lime-cilantro reduction and sweet-pea risotto — in addition to hot wings and crab cakes. Burger meat will be ground in house, and Des Chenes promises ever-changing daily specials.

Like an increasing number of Vermont restaurants, this one will use an unusual business model of partial financing by customers. Here, fans can purchase a “membership” for $1000 and eat back $1200. They’ll get a lot for their money. Most appetizers will be under $10, and entrées will range from $12 to $24.

The best part? The dining room is designed so that during big games, “we can have all the Yankees fans on one side and all the Red Sox fans on the other,” says Des Chenes.

The greater Burlington area has no shortage of Vietnamese fare, but on July 12, a new eatery joined the Asian restaurant ranks. Saigon Bistro, located on College Street in the old Blue Plate Ceramic Café spot, dishes up pho noodle soup in seven varieties — including chicken, seafood and veggie versions — and offers stir-fries, noodle and rice plates, and thick, aromatic Vietnamese stews served over noodles.

Asked what sets the fare apart, server Tiger Huynh says that the chef puts a lot of heart into the food, creating the unique sauces that flavor every dish. The special fried duck, which can be ordered with the customer’s choice of starch, is a signature. The teenage staffer is also a fan of the Che 3 Mau dessert made of coconut milk, a variety of beans and unflavored green gelatin. “It’s very good, sweet and perfect,” he enthuses.

Although the eatery has been open for just over a week, Huynh attests that it’s already busy. “Business has been going up, and everybody is loving the food,” he says. “I’ve seen some customers twice and a lot of new customers coming because they’re spreading the word.”

Seems like noodles aren’t the only slippery things at Winooski’s Pho Dang. According to a recent article in the Burlington Free Press, owner Son Dang is the target of a long-running Drug Enforcement Administration investigation into marijuana trafficking.

The news comes as no surprise to Seven Days staffer Cathy Resmer, who dropped by to pick up some takeout in April 2008 and found the place swarming with DEA agents. When she asked about getting her soup, one agent scolded her: “The restaurant is closed: You’re not going to be able to get your food for a long time.”

As of today, the restaurant is still in operation. According to the Freeps, Dang, who continues to proclaim his innocence, will go on trial later this year.

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About The Author

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Bio:
Contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the former Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a goose,... more

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