Hen of the Wood, opening in June, has gotten all the attention, but it’s not the only restaurant coming to Hotel Vermont at 41 Cherry Street in Burlington. As soon as May 1, Juniper will open for breakfast, dinner and bar service, including late-night snacks. Soon after, lunch will be on the schedule.
Juniper executive chef Douglas Paine is currently finishing his run at Amuse at the Essex Resort & Spa while starting his new job. The Waterford native honed his chops as longtime executive sous-chef at Michael’s on the Hill.
Paine calls Juniper “an ingredient-driven cocktail bar.” That’s reflected in the format of the menu, which features snacks and shared appetizer plates as well as conventional starters, sandwiches and main dishes. However, the description doesn’t do justice to the menu’s scope.
When Paine talks about having “some pickles” displayed behind the bar along with the tinctures and bitters for cocktails, he doesn’t mean your average pickled egg. His version of the bar staple is applewood smoked and served with morels. Other snacks include popcorn served with honey and brown butter; clothbound-cheddar fritters with quince butter; and daily charcuterie selections.
The 30-seat bar leaves plenty of room for guests to gather and get a cocktail or one of 12 regional beers and two wines on tap. Seating also includes a 70-seat banquet room, a large patio and a number of tables spread out across the reclaimed-oak floors overlooking the lobby.
Paine hopes to get an ice cider on tap, too. In the meantime, he’ll use the sweet booze in his goat-cheese gnocchi with mushrooms, shallot confit and ice-cider beurre blanc.
Entrées won’t exceed $30. They include juniper-roasted rabbit with turnips, green garlic and hazelnut gastrique; and a vegetarian dish of polenta and a fried egg with ramps, kale and a mint-pea-shoot pistou. Daily specials, including fish and flatbreads, will make use of the best products the restaurant receives between seasonal menu changes. Guests who just feel like a burger can find that, too, but with grass-fed beef, served with aioli and local Tarentaise cheese on a brioche.
At breakfast time, the bar will serve as a grab-and-go counter with local pastries, croissants and cider doughnuts from Champlain Orchards. Paine will get oats from Butterworks Farm for slow-cooked oatmeal made with spiced milk, butter and maple syrup. Other comforting morning dishes include roasted-mushroom ragout with a poached egg and Tarentaise over Red Hen Baking Company’s all-local Cyrus Pringle bread; Butterworks Farm yogurt with hazelnut granola and seasonal fruit; and eggs served with local bacon, red-flannel hash or grilled whey-fed-pork terrine.
“The idea of what we’re trying to do is take the traditional Vermont food aspects and present them to people in a sophisticated way,” Paine says. Sounds like he’s on the right track.
Justin Turcotte: Gotta love our little food Mecca!
Roy: Meh. They can't compare to Red Hen and dealing with Hunt is often not worth the trouble.
Tammy Goughnour: This will be AWESOME!! Their pastry is out of this world!!
Old Vermonter: Amazing they lasted so long with such terrible business acumem
Bryan Bouchard: It wasn't that good before. Of they didn't reopen it wouldn't be a great loss to the Burlington…