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Monday, November 16, 2020

CO Cellars, ZAFA Wines Face Licensing Investigation

Posted By on Mon, Nov 16, 2020 at 8:38 PM

A glass of natural wine at CO Cellars - SALLY POLLAK/FILE ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak/FIle ©️ Seven Days
  • A glass of natural wine at CO Cellars

The Vermont Division of Liquor Control executed two search warrants last Friday during a licensing investigation of CO Cellars, a Burlington fermentory and tasting room, and ZAFA Wines, a winery that shares CO Cellars' location in the Soda Plant building in the South End.

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Friday, November 6, 2020

Dining on a Dime: The Spot

Posted By on Fri, Nov 6, 2020 at 3:00 PM

Cheesesteak at the Spot - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Cheesesteak at the Spot

On the nicest November day in the history of democracy, I tore myself away from the television to eat a cheesesteak.

I was bingeing on Day 4 of “Election Day in America Continued,” and coverage was focused on Philly. So I did what any ex-pat from the City of Bro Lo would do and headed to the nearest cheesesteak place.  In my case, a most fortunate one, that happens to be the Spot on Shelburne Road.

For my impromptu trip, I overlooked the required reservation. This was easily remedied on the spot at the Spot, where I popped out my phone and reserved an outdoor seat for that moment. A few tables in an enclosed outdoor dining area had lunch customers, but I was alone on the open-air patio.

I ordered a small cheesesteak with chips and a pickle ($9) and a seltzer with cranberry juice.

“Cheers!” the server said when she set down my drink.

She nailed the vibe: I was cheered to be outdoors, removed from CNN’s electronic election map, and on the verge of eating a sandwich that’s hard to replicate in any worthy fashion on the east side of Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

But in Burlington's South End, happily, the sandwich had the requisite squish to the bread, the beef was a cut above the versions I favored in Philly (maybe 'cause in that city they’re whipping out sandwiches faster than they’re counting votes), and the grilled red peppers added zing.

I'm pretty sure the cheese on my cheesesteak was melted American, and I'm a provolone person.  Yet melted American is the winning choice, the poetic choice, for Election Week in the USA.

I watched cars pull up for window service in a scene that harked back to the Spot’s previous incarnation as a gas station.  Reinforcing the reminiscences, a tow truck arrived to rescue a busted Land Rover whose owner had eaten lunch at the restaurant.

As I finished my meal, an acquaintance showed up for lunch.  From across the parking lot, she inquired about the food, and I gave her the scoop: “Cheesesteak. In honor of the vote count in Philly.”

A man waiting for his to-go order heard me and started to clap. He said that he, too, had ordered a cheesesteak. I asked him if it was for Election Day in Philadelphia.

“No,” he said. “But that’s the best reason I’ve heard.”

I couldn't argue with his own reason.  Barry, who told me only his first name, is a Philly native and eats cheesesteaks regularly at the Spot because they're so good, he said.

We bemoaned the state of Italian hoagies in Vermont, and then I walked home to check the vote. Biden had a 0.2 percent lead in Pennsylvania; the electoral vote tally hadn’t budged.

Still, the narrative was advancing. According to a "breaking news" alert on CNN, Biden will address the nation tonight.
Dining on a Dime is a series featuring well-made, filling bites (something substantial enough to qualify as a small meal or better) for $12 or less. Know of a tasty dish we should feature? Drop us a line: food@sevendaysvt.com.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Burlington's Mawuhi African Market to Vacate Old North End Space

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2020 at 8:24 PM

  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Pat Bannerman
After 13 years operating Mawuhi African Market in a corner building in the Old North End, Pat Bannerman will leave the space at the end of the year, she said.

Jason Lin of Burlington purchased the building at 160 North Winooski Ave. a year ago. He told Seven Days on Tuesday that he plans to renovate and upgrade the structure, and perhaps open his own business at the site of the market.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Dining on a Dime: Honey Road

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2020 at 3:10 PM

Eggplant and corn grape  leaf pie - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Eggplant and corn grape leaf pie
Some food is made to be eaten, not photographed, and I’d throw Honey Road’s eggplant and corn grape leaf pie into that category.

It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the picture of this food. But sound effects would serve a better purpose here than a photograph: The sound of me OMGing when I took my first bite.  (And without a photo, we can all start eating faster.)

Still, if I remember correctly — and I’m no Donald Trump (eggplant, corn, dill, grape leaf, labne) — it was a photograph on Instagram that alerted me to Honey’s Road inventive dolma. The price ($12) was a draw. The ingredients, which I can still rattle off  (eggplant, corn, dill, grape leaf, labne, lots of it!), clinched it. Plus jasmine rice. (Try six items next time, prez.)

A mound of vegetables is always going to excite me. When eggplant is part of the mix, sweet local corn is featured, and the meal is set on a grape leaf, it’s enough to make me leave home for the takeout window. (BTW, is a grape leaf a fruit, a vegetable or just a wet vine?)

For us uninventive types who think a stuffed grape leaf  is supposed to look like a cigar, what a revelation to come across one in the shape of a hockey puck. Slap shot. Score.
Dining on a Dime is a weekly series featuring well-made, filling bites (something substantial enough to qualify as a small meal or better) for $12 or less. Know of a tasty dish we should feature? Drop us a line: food@sevendaysvt.com.

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Sunday, August 30, 2020

Farmhouse Tap & Grill Closes for Two Days Due to Customer COVID-19 Test

Posted By on Sun, Aug 30, 2020 at 7:32 PM

Farmhouse Tap & Grill burger - COURTESY OF FARMHOUSE TAP & GRILL
  • Courtesy of Farmhouse Tap & Grill
  • Farmhouse Tap & Grill burger
The Farmhouse Tap & Grill in downtown Burlington has closed Sunday and Monday this week after learning that a customer who ate there on Wednesday, August 26, had since tested positive for the coronavirus, owner Jed Davis said. The patron called the Farmhouse on Saturday night to tell the restaurant about the test result.

“The customer was kind enough to call us,” Davis told Seven Days Sunday afternoon. “I definitely appreciated it. It’s not a call you want to receive, but you’re thankful to receive it.”

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Monday, August 24, 2020

Dining on a Dime: M-Saigon

Posted By on Mon, Aug 24, 2020 at 5:42 PM

Chantalle Nguyen - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Chantalle Nguyen
My daughter and I are typically winter customers at M-Saigon restaurant on Shelburne Road, where we're fond of the pho with tofu and vegetables and drunken noodles with chicken.

So I hadn’t been thinking about the Vietnamese restaurant in Burlington’s South End until I went to the post office the other day and noticed the neighboring restaurant in the strip mall is open. The right spot for Dining on a Dime, I thought.

But the noodle dish is $12.95, just over this feature’s $12 price limit. And it’s summer — I wasn't in the mood for soup.

How lucky for us that considerations of price and season pushed us to look anew at the menu. My daughter chose grilled lemongrass honey chicken with vermicelli ($11.95). I got chicken dumplings ($5.95) and lemongrass tofu banh mi ($4.95). For $22. 85, before tax and tip, we shared a very good and satisfying meal for two.

(Unsolicited tip advice: Tip at least 20 percent, like the good old days of restaurant dining, picking up  food to-go or buying a beer at an outdoor bar. If a business, like Lawson's Finest Liquids, is collecting money for a local nonprofit rather than accepting a gratuity, contribute a comparable amount.)

Back to our regularly scheduled content: The generous portion of vermicelli at M-Saigon was served with a medley of vegetables — cucumbers, bean sprouts, daikon, carrots and shallots — and crushed peanuts. The dish came with two pieces of grilled chicken.

I probably hold sandwiches to the highest standard of any food group, and the banh mi was terrific. Served on a housemade baguette, the sliced tofu was garnished with cilantro, a crunchy wedge of cucumber, pickled daikon and carrots. The restaurant held the house mayo at my request and added sweet chili sauce (their idea). It was hard to believe this hoagie-sized banh mi, with ingredients we're not likely to pull from our refrigerator, cost $4.95.

M-Saigon closed in mid-March  in compliance with Vermont's coronavirus shutdown order. The restaurant reopened on July 6, according to Chantalle Nguyen, daughter of chef/owner Khoi Nguyen.
  • Seven Days/File ©️ Seven Days
  • Banh mi
A 20-year-old psychology major at the University of Vermont, Nguyen will balance restaurant work with soon-to-start fall classes. Her studies and her job are altered due to the pandemic: Classes will be online and M-Saigon is open for takeout and curbside business only.

Nguyen was in elementary school in 2008,  when her parents opened the restaurant. Her favorite items on the menu are crispy pork banh mi and grilled lemongrass pork on vermicelli, she said.  As a new fan of the tofu sandwich, I’m planning a return trip for the Nguyen-recommended pork one ($4.95).

“I grew up eating this food,” Nguyen said. “A lot of the food that is on the menu we cook at home on a regular basis, for regular dinners.”

M-Saigon is open Monday through Friday 11:30  a.m. to 7 p.m.
Dining on a Dime is a series featuring well-made, filling bites (something substantial enough to qualify as a small meal or better) for $12 or less. Know of a tasty dish we should feature? Drop us a line: food@sevendaysvt.com.

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Friday, July 17, 2020

Two Burlington Breweries and Affiliated Restaurants Close Temporarily Over COVID-19 Concern

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2020 at 12:15 PM

Coney Island hot dogs and beer at Zero Gravity - FILE: SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Coney Island hot dogs and beer at Zero Gravity
Updated, July 20, 5 p.m. 

Foam Brewers and Zero Gravity Craft Brewery, as well as their respective affiliated restaurants Deep City and the Great Northern, all of which shut down Thursday due to a staff member's possible exposure to the coronavirus, announced Monday on social media that COVID-19 tests have come back negative.

The breweries and restaurants were closed temporarily while awaiting the results of testing.  Foam Brewers  announced on Facebook that it will open Monday, July 20, at 5 p.m. Zero Gravity announced on Facebook that it will  be back open Tuesday, July 21, with its "regularly scheduled programming."

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Wednesday, May 27, 2020

New Indian-Himalayan Restaurant Opens in Burlington

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2020 at 3:46 PM

GBG Indian Kitchen on Riverside Avenue - MELISSA PASANEN
  • Melissa Pasanen
  • GBG Indian Kitchen on Riverside Avenue
Three Vermonters originally from Nepal were finally able to open their Indian and Himalayan restaurant in Burlington last week.

Its name, GBG Indian Kitchen, combines the surname initials of co-owners Prashant Gharti, Dal B. Bhujel and Binod Gurung. The trio rented the building at 471 Riverside Avenue in Burlington on January 1, but the pandemic held up permits and renovation of the former Dunkin' Donuts, Gharti said.

The three owners, who are related, have all worked in the hospitality field.  "We are family together, and we have experience in the kitchen, in food and beverage management and in marketing," Gharti said.

"When we analyzed what was here, we saw that [the] Indian restaurants are outdated," he continued. The restaurateurs plan to distinguish themselves by preparing "every recipe we know well" fresh from scratch, Gharti said. 

The wide-ranging menu includes familiar Indian restaurant staples such as biryani, kebabs, curries and breads. Gharti noted that the biryani rice is steamed with a traditional technique, and the breads and kebabs are made in a clay tandoor oven. Himalayan offerings include momos, squat dumplings filled with vegetables, chicken or beef.

The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner for takeout and delivery only, until regulations allow dining in. The building has no outdoor dining space.
Information: GBG Indian Kitchen, 448-3653.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Burlington Street Becomes Food Distribution Site

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2020 at 3:40 PM

A guardsman loading food into a pickup truck Tuesday in Burlington - JAMES BUCK
  • James Buck
  • A guardsman loading food into a pickup truck Tuesday in Burlington
A Burlington builder flashed a V sign out the window of his Ram 2500 as he steered his pickup under an overpass on the Beltline on Tuesday morning. His victory was being No. 1 in a long  line of cars at a food distribution site in Burlington’s New North End.

The man, who declined to give his name, arrived at 4:30 in the morning, before the sun came up. Three lanes of cars fanned out behind him, filled with Vermonters waiting in the sunshine to receive cases of government-supplied food.

“There’s uncertainty, and we don’t know how long this will go on,” said the man, a father of four, adding that his work is slow. “I’m here for basic needs.”
The food giveaway in Burlington, the first in Vermont’s largest city, was one of several such events that have been held around the state in the past month.

Organized by the Vermont Foodbank in collaboration with the Vermont National Guard and the state’s Emergency Operations Center, the distributions aim to address a steep rise in food insecurity due to job losses and the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Feeding America, a national hunger-relief group, estimates the number of food-insecure people in Vermont is up by 46 percent, and the number of food-insecure children is up 60 percent, according to the Vermont Foodbank.

In Burlington, roughly 550 cars moved through the line at a rate of about 120 cars an hour, according to organizers. Some people got food for themselves and family members. Others came to assist people who don’t have cars or were otherwise unable to access the food.

A Colchester woman who lost her job in the registration department at the University of Vermont Medical Center said it was the first time she has needed help getting food.

“I don’t get any other assistance,” the 56-year-old said. “So this helps.”

Patricia Mallette, 66, traveled from North Clarendon with her 16-week-old puppy, Molly. The 70-mile trip was minor compared with the 1,475 miles she drove each way, two weeks ago, to pick up her dog.

Patricia Mallette of North Clarendon and her puppy, Molly - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Patricia Mallette of North Clarendon and her puppy, Molly
“We are food short,” Mallette said. “My stepdaughter hasn’t gotten unemployment [benefits] in eight weeks, and they are starving.”

A Shelburne mother of three, driving a Volvo station wagon, arrived at the thoroughfare at 5 a.m. Her family is in the construction business and is experiencing “lack of work and lack of income,” said the woman, who declined to give her name.

The help with food is "huge" and necessary, she said, but the time spent waiting in line could be used to look for work.

Samuel Dingba, 25, youth program coordinator for AALV, drove the New Farms for New Americans van to the Beltline site. Originally from Cameroon, Dingba said he was picking up food for 20 families that don’t have cars.

“It makes me happy to be able to help other families,” Dingba said.
Samuel Dingba - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Samuel Dingba
Also collecting on behalf of other people was Steve Hamlin, president of the board of North Avenue Co-op. Hamlin, 62, said he hoped to get food for nine families but wasn’t certain he’d be allotted that much.

“There’s a lot of people in there that are struggling to make their bills, including lot rent,” Hamlin said of residents at the mobile home park.  “As the president, I go out and do everything I can to help them."

He’s a security guard who’d been working 60 to 80 hours a week, but, with events canceled, his work is down to about 30 hours a week, Hamlin said.

Cars lined up for food Tuesday on the Beltline in Burlington - JAMES BUCK
  • James Buck
  • Cars lined up for food Tuesday on the Beltline in Burlington
The food distributed Tuesday included 1,000 Farmers to Families kits, according to Nicole Whalen, spokesperson for the Vermont Foodbank. Paid for by the USDA and put together by the Abbey Group of Enosburg  Falls, each box contains 15 to 25 pounds of produce, 20 pounds of chicken and 7.5 pounds of dairy products, according to Whalen.

In addition, 1,930 boxes of nonperishable food, supplied by FEMA and totaling about 28,800 meals, were distributed.

One man who came for food, Fred Jackson of Burlington, rode in a pickup truck with a U.S. flag sticking up from the hood.  A onetime airplane mechanic, Jackson said he sometimes gets groceries at Feeding Chittenden in Burlington.

“I heard about this, and I’m needy for food,” Jackson, 62, said. “I think they’re doing the best they can do.”

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Thursday, May 7, 2020

King's Corner Deli Owner Plans Pop-Up Breakfast Event

Posted By on Thu, May 7, 2020 at 11:31 AM

Kat Donahue (left) and Erin Malone - COURTESY OF KAT DONAHUE
  • Courtesy of Kat Donahue
  • Kat Donahue (left) and Erin Malone
King’s Corner Deli is back — for one day only.

Kat Donahue, the owner of the beloved, now-closed Queen City corner store, will be dishing out her famous breakfast sandwiches from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 9, at Momo’s Market on North Willard Street in Burlington's Old North End.

Donahue came up with the idea for a pop-up event after spotting a homemade sign that said “Things will get better, we’re in this together,” in front of a house near her old shop, which closed in December 2018.

“I just wanted to do something that might make people feel a little more hopeful, inspired and comforted,” Donahue said.

Now working as an autism interventionist in the Howard Center’s Autism Spectrum Program, Donahue contacted Momo’s owner Erin Malone last month to float the idea about a pop-up event. The two women opened their stores within months of each other (Donahue in 2014, Malone in 2015), quickly connected and instantly clicked.

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