A fractured ankle couldn’t keep Douglas Paine from a successful opening. Though he’s leaving the line to other cooks until the end of the month, the chef oversaw the debut of Hotel Vermont’s first restaurant, Juniper, last Thursday. The hotel itself opened the next day; an official grand opening for both will follow in June.
His doctor would prefer him to lie down with his leg elevated, Paine said, but instead he was doling out grassfed pot roast with turnips and horseradish. With breakfast service beginning at 7 a.m. and dinner ending at 10 p.m., it’s a relief for the Juniper crew to delay lunch service until Paine is back on his feet next month.
For now, the chef is feeding guests breakfasts of gin-cured salmon on wood-fired bagels, and polenta with fried eggs and pea shoots in cider vinaigrette. Dinners include buttermilk fried chicken with hot peppers and poutine with oxtail gravy. “The atmosphere and the food have been a hit,” Paine says. Specials created by his lineup of cooks will soon join the regular menu, he adds.
The centerpiece of the reclaimed-oak lobby restaurant is the bar where mixologist Eben Hill, former chef-owner of Red Barn Café at South Hero’s Allenholm Farm, specializes in locally distilled spirits prepared unconventionally. The Aloetini features that sweet succulent, along with honey and tea. The Farmer’s Tan is Hill’s take on a dirty martini with pickled fiddlehead juice in place of olive brine, garnished with a fiddlehead and dehydrated vegetables. He’ll start teaching mixology classes at the bar in the next few weeks.
The tipples will be welcome when Juniper begins late-night hours, probably next month, serving an abbreviated menu until midnight.
More big Hotel Vermont restaurant news is yet to come: Hen of the Wood is slated to open its Burlington location there in July.
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