Dining on a Dime | Bite Club | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

Dining on a Dime

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.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Dining on a Dime: Conscious Eatz Food Truck

Posted By on Tue, Sep 29, 2020 at 1:58 PM

Conscious Eatz food truck - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Conscious Eatz food truck
Burlington's vegan scene got a bit bigger — and more mobile — this month.

Conscious Eatz rolled into town on September 3, spending a week down near the waterfront before parking in its current location near the top of the Church Street Marketplace at 6 Clarke Street.

Partners Jane Morgan and Tyler Weith have followed a plant-based diet for a few years. After moving back to Burlington last summer, they noticed a "major gap in vegan and vegetarian foods," Morgan said.

"For such a progressive city, it really surprised us that there weren't more options," she continued. "We love to cook, and love to make plant-based things, so we figured we could bring plant-based options to Burlington in a really approachable way."

Buffalo-cauliflower tacos from Conscious Eatz - MELISSA PASANEN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Melissa Pasanen ©️ Seven Days
  • Buffalo-cauliflower tacos from Conscious Eatz
Approachability is key to the food truck's menu. Items like buffalo-cauliflower tacos ($12) — a play on a buffalo chicken wing adapted into taco form to make it street-food friendly — and the maple-glazed tempeh burrito ($11) have been popular from the get-go.

"I've found that friends of mine who aren't plant-based can get intimidated by some of the vegan ingredients and foods," Morgan said. "We really tried to make all of our ingredients and menu items things that would appeal to anybody."

Morgan and Weith had started conceptualizing Conscious Eatz prior to the pandemic, and their planned business model has adapted well. "It's mostly takeout, and now we're set up with some of the delivery services," Morgan said. "Everything's pretty contactless, and it's working out well for us." 

The mission of Conscious Eatz is to serve food that has a positive impact on the environment, animals and personal health, Morgan explained.

"If one person who typically eats meat decides for one of their meals, one day a week, to not eat meat, that in itself has a positive impact," she said.

Chickpea tuna sandwich - JORDAN BARRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Jordan Barry ©️ Seven Days
  • Chickpea tuna sandwich
With that in mind, my dining companion and I skipped our usual omnivorous lunch plans over the weekend and placed an order for two sandwiches from Conscious Eatz: the chickpea tuna sandwich ($9) and the Lucerne club ($9), both of which came with an ample side of potato chips.

The "tuna" successfully mimics the classic sandwich. The combination of chickpeas and smooth hummus — spiked with celery, of course — has everything except the fishiness.

It would be a perfect polite solution to a tuna craving at the office, if sitting near coworkers for lunch al desko were something we could actually do.

Lucerne club with carrot bacon, shredded carrots, sprouts and peanut sauce - JORDAN BARRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Jordan Barry ©️ Seven Days
  • Lucerne club with carrot bacon, shredded carrots, sprouts and peanut sauce
The Lucerne club strays further from the original (no frilly toothpicks), but it's a twist worth trying. The sandwich is piled high with shredded carrots, sprouts and crispy "carrot bacon," and slathered with a Thai-inspired peanut sauce.

In a world of increasingly expensive sandwiches, these felt like a good deal at $9. We'd been tempted by the desserts — particularly the blueberry cheezecake ($5) — but skipped it to stay under our $12 per person limit. That ended up being for the best, as we were stuffed.

Conscious Eatz can typically be found on Clarke Street Wednesday through Sunday, barring special events that take the truck elsewhere. Check out the weekly schedule online and on social media.

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.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Dining on a Dime: Zabby & Elf's Stone Soup

Posted By on Tue, Sep 15, 2020 at 9:00 AM

Dinner from Stone Soup - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Dinner from Stone Soup

Normalcy — sort of — returned to College Street in Burlington last week in the form of sweet potatoes, kale and brown rice.

The mainstays of the hot bar at Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup are back in action after a six-month moratorium. The cafe's trio of basics made their comeback along with sandwiches, soups, muffins and bread — and the changing array of items in the hot and cold bars.

The un-normal part is that this last category of food is no longer self-serve, which was Stone Soup’s pre-pandemic way. In the new system, a staffer fills your plate for you. A Plexiglas shield — probably the prettiest in town — guards the food and the people, and separates one from the other.

(Ever been tempted to snitch a crouton or an olive when you serve yourself at Stone Soup? Sorry, that game is over.)

The new system at Stone Soup works two ways: You can guide a staffer and tell them what you’d like — three chicken wings, please, some curried cauliflower and chickpeas and those seared Brussels sprouts! How about some salad and cottage cheese, a spoonful of pickled beets, a hit of roasted mushrooms and dried apricots.

Or you can opt for a chef’s tasting plate: $10 for small, $15 for large. Specify vegan, vegetarian or omnivore, and let a Stone Souper pick your food for you.

I’m always pleased to relinquish responsibility, so I chose the second option when my daughter and I stopped at Stone Soup for dinner last week. Though the dining room is open at reduced capacity, with off-limit tables marked by arrangements of flowers and stones, we took our meals home.
Hanging plants in the open window at Stone Soup - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Hanging plants in the open window at Stone Soup
“We’re working hard to create products that work in this setting, but still serving the food everybody has been used to,” co-owner Tim Elliott told me before the September 9 reopening.  “You need to have trust in your server.”

As it happened, co-owner Avery Rifkin was on duty the evening we stopped in and I trust him (and everyone else) to feed me.  I chose the small plate ($10) to qualify for Dining on a Dime, and had $2 left for a chocolate cookie. Rifkin loaded me up with food I’ve been missing for six months: chicken wings,  kale salad, cucumber salad, mac and cheese with vegetables, beet hummus,  a thick slice of whole wheat bread. 

Stone Soup’s reopening coincides with Rosh Hashanah, which starts this Friday at sundown. If I could pick a word to describe the marking of the Jewish New Year at Stone Soup, normal is not the word I’d select. The café’s candlelit celebration is one of a kind. (At least I’ve never seen anything like it in a restaurant.)
Rosh Hashanah at Stone Soup in 2019 - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Rosh Hashanah at Stone Soup in 2019
Rifkin said he’ll start working at 7 a.m. Thursday on his Rosh Hashanah preparation, and he'll be at Stone Soup straight through until Friday afternoon. Though the café opens at 9 a.m. these days, people are welcome to come in earlier Friday morning, he said.

Rifkin will bake 150 to 200 loaves of round challah, the only week of the year the challah is round. The baker will make rugelach, mini-babkas, apple cake and honey cake. The counter will hold candles, flowers, pumpkins and gourds, along with  baked goods.

In years past, apple slices and pieces of cake were set out for people to help themselves. They were placed near a tiered stack of rugelach, an annual engineering marvel.

Who knows what the presentation will be this year. But I have high hopes that Rosh Hashanah at Stone Soup will be — as usual — not normal.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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.
Banh mi - SEVEN DAYS/FILE ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • 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.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Monday, August 3, 2020

Dining on a Dime: Penny Cluse Café

Posted By on Mon, Aug 3, 2020 at 4:24 PM

Salmon platter at Penny Cluse - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Salmon platter at Penny Cluse
Maybe the next time Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez eats at Penny Cluse Café, she’ll be president. The Congresswoman from New York City got my vote when she reminded the world that men verbally assaulting women is “just another day.”

Maybe by then, the day that never seems to end — in this case, the pandemic — will be over. And we'll be eating at the Penny Cluse counter again, with its endless refills and stool-by-stool camaraderie.

Meanwhile, for $12, I got to eat Penny Cluse’s riff on my childhood birthday meal: smoked salmon, chèvre, sliced tomato, red onion, capers and buttered, grilled baguette.  I drank a spicy bloody Mary ($8) from a plastic cup  with my to-go salmon platter — 'cause I’m no longer nine and because these days could use a little oomph.

My birthday lunch — smoked salmon, bagels, cream cheese, dill pickles, potato salad — was sourced from a Jewish deli. For a lot of my life, I thought Nova, aka smoked salmon, originated from a place like Barney Greengrass the Sturgeon King on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

One day a few years ago, I caught a glimpse of  Maura O’Sullivan, Penny Cluse chef, slicing a salmon filet with a very sharp knife. It got me thinking about the fish and what happens to it at the Burlington café.

I found out Friday, when I was scanning the online menu at Penny Cluse for a meal that costs $12 or less. Spotting the salmon plate, I remembered that glistening filet and rejoiced that a piece of smoked fish could be mine with the click of a computer.

“Happy birthday!” I told myself, placing an online order — though my birthday is actually a few months away. Twenty minutes later, after a drive downtown to fetch my food from the pickup window, I was sitting at our table in private celebration.

I smeared chèvre on a length of baguette, placed smoked salmon on the cheese, laid sliced tomato on top of that and crowned the open-faced sandwich with red onions and capers. Times two.

The salmon, I learned from Penny Cluse owner Charles Reeves, is cured, dried and smoked in-house. Barney Greengrass has nothing to do with it.

“We have a really cool smoker,” Reeves told me.

The salmon and tomatoes — from Pomykala Farm in Grand Isle — match each other in consistency: fleshy but firm. The capers, not a thing when I was a kid, add a little zing.

AOC ate scrambled eggs and rye toast when she and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) ate together at Penny Cluse last year. Next time, she should indulge in a meal fit for a kid on her birthday — and possibly a prez.
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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Dining on a Dime: Shelburne Farms

Posted By on Tue, Jul 28, 2020 at 12:18 PM

Shelburne Farms lasagna with salad - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Shelburne Farms lasagna with salad
It’s about two miles from the visitor center at Shelburne Farms to the inn and gardens on Lake Champlain — maybe two and a half miles, depending on the path you take and where you turn around.

But who’s marking the distance when a walk across the farm — past grazing Brown Swiss cows and the milking barn — is a double win:  a stroll at one of the most beautiful places in Vermont and a shopping trip rolled into one.

Yes, a shopping trip. You can take a walk at Shelburne Farms while a staffer at the visitor center packs your online food order for curbside pickup. If you’re an impulsive type, you can phone in your order on arrival at the parking lot, go for a walk and come back to get your food.

The farm’s seven-acre market garden produces organic vegetables that during normal summers are prepared and plated for diners at the Inn at Shelburne Farms. The inn, along with all farm buildings, is closed for the season due to the  COVID-19 pandemic.

This summer, produce and herbs are available for purchase outside the farm store: Swiss chard, beets, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, mint, thyme, cabbage, carrots, onions, leeks, lettuce, beans and more. The store also sells prepared foods from the inn’s kitchen.

We were super psyched to discover that the restaurant kitchen that typically turns out expensive dinners for in-house diners is offering excellent meals at very reasonable prices.

Shelburne Farms lasagna with salad - SALLY POLLAK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sally Pollak ©️ Seven Days
  • Shelburne Farms lasagna with salad
Our favorite is the beef lasagna, rich and classic made with beef raised on the farm, tomatoes, cheese and Bechamel sauce. A $12 lasagna feeds two. (I spend more money on ingredients when I make my own lasagna, though it fills a big pan.) Shelburne Farms also makes vegetarian lasagna for $11. Both come frozen and need to  be defrosted and warmed in the oven. We eat ours with salad and bread; dinner is both a treat and a bargain.

We’ve also had the macaroni and cheese ($8), and have heard good things about the squash blossom fettuccine ($5).

These days, when the garden harvest is bountiful and beautiful, it’s easy to look past the prepared meals.  But a late afternoon walk turns into a one-night vacation when it ends with dinner-in-a-bag.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Dining on a Dime: St. Paul Street Gastrogrub

Posted By on Thu, Mar 12, 2020 at 3:58 PM

Dry-rubbed chicken wings and fries at St. Paul Street Gastrogrub - JORDAN BARRY
  • Jordan Barry
  • Dry-rubbed chicken wings and fries at St. Paul Street Gastrogrub
It's normal for me to get a restaurant recommendation along the lines of, "You have to go there for the chicken."

Less normal: "There's an actual, real-live chicken who has taken up residence on the restaurant's patio."

Last weekend, St. Paul Street Gastrogrub in Burlington had both. The tiny, neighborhood spot bridging downtown and the South End always has wings and a popular chicken sandwich to round out its local beer offerings and other creative pub food. But for three glorious days, the corner pub also had its very own poultry ambassador roosting out front.

Gastrogrub staff first noticed their new mascot on Friday, March 6. Right away, they posted a plea on social media, asking, "Anyone missing a chicken?"


Dubbing her "Henrietta," the staff kept a close eye on their surprise guest, despite the fact that she hadn't made a reservation.

She was seemingly wary of crossing the road, the staff said, which might be more of a statement about the construction on St. Paul Street than the setup for a classic joke.

Henrietta reportedly wandered away on Friday night, but was back again on Saturday and stayed through Sunday. "It was the most Vermont-y thing," said Brian Gildersleeve, Gastrogrub's prep manager. 

At one point over the weekend, Gildersleeve made Henrietta a nest out of his hoodie and a few clean aprons. "She snuggled into it overnight," he said. The staff applied their excellent customer service to their chicken guest, giving her water, lettuce, leftover cooked rice and a little bit of bread, as a treat.

"It really got us through Sunday," said Gastrogrup barkeep Will Reuss of caring for the bird.

From left: Katie Hodges, "Henrietta" and Seth Olson - KATIE HODGES
  • Katie Hodges
  • From left: Katie Hodges, "Henrietta" and Seth Olson
I first heard of Henrietta's presence on Sunday night, when Seven Days staffer Katie Hodges posted a series of selfies with the chicken to our office-wide Slack channel.

Hodges was on her way to Gastrogrub for dinner before a show at ArtsRiot. "We knew they had good apps and beer," she said. After parking up the street, she noticed the chicken outside.

"The bartender started making jokes about how fresh the chicken was as soon as we sat down," Hodges continued. "From where we were sitting at the bar, she was right under the sign for chicken wings, which was hilarious."

"It made my night," Hodges said. "It's so weird, and so Vermont, especially because everyone was so excited about it,"

By the time I made it to Gastrogrub on Tuesday, "Henrietta," whose real name turned out to be Gladys, was no longer camped outside. It's a happy ending, though — she was reunited with her owner on Monday.

"Henrietta" making herself at home on the patio of St. Paul Street Gastrogrub - KATIE HODGES
  • Katie Hodges
  • "Henrietta" making herself at home on the patio of St. Paul Street Gastrogrub
"Her owner thought she was dead," Gildersleeve explained. "She got in a fight with a raccoon and flew the coop, ending up here."

Gastrogrub staff had called the Green Mountain Animal Defenders, who arranged for the chicken to be adopted to Richmond before her original owners were aware of her three-day bender. After a few phone calls, though, she's back where she belongs.

"They're happy to have her back," Reuss added.

My natural reaction after listening to Gildersleeve and Reuss recount the whole saga was pretty messed up: I ordered the wings.

Gastrogrub wings come in a variety of flavors and spice levels, including maple jalepeño, dry rub, salt-'n'-vin, barbecue, medium or hot. I ordered the dry rub, which came with eight big ol' wings and a choice of ranch or blue cheese ($11).

My questionable ethics aside, they're damn good wings. The rub was packed with flavor and just a hint of spice, making a perfect afternoon snack. Some dry-rubbed wings can be a little too dry for my liking, but I found myself dipping in the ranch simply because I like ranch, not because the wings needed it. 

My coworker, who tagged along in hopes of meeting the chicken, ordered fries ($5 for regular, $8 if you're feeling fancy and want a truffle upgrade). The fries are herb-flecked, skin-on, and my favorite balance of crispy and soft. They're great with the ranch, too.

We both drank low-ABV beers that skewed springy, feeling inspired by the warm weather. I had the tart and light Audrey Two sour from Zero Gravity Craft Brewery, and she went tropical with the toasted coconut and pineapple Little Umbrellas from Four Quarters Brewing.

We were eating around 4 p.m., so it wasn't quite a full meal, but there are plenty of dining-on-a-dime options that are more substantial at Gastrogrub.

I'll go back — chicken or no chicken — to try the fish tacos with black bean and pineapple salsa ($10), pulled pork sandwich ($12), 1/2-pound burger ($12), and yes, the fried-chicken sandwich ($12).

If  all this chicken talk has you considering going meatless, Gastrogrub also has vegan and vegetarian options: a tempting arugula salad ($9), the meat-alternative Beyond Burger ($14) and a Beyond burrito ($15). The "Beyond" options don't quite fit in our $12-or-less parameters. But you'll be several bucks ahead of me in the moral bank, so it might be worth the splurge.

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.

Tags: , , , , ,

Friday, February 7, 2020

Dining on a Dime: the Pour House

Posted By on Fri, Feb 7, 2020 at 2:29 PM

Pot roast and beer at the Pour House - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Pot roast and beer at the Pour House
On a recent afternoon at the Pour House in South Burlington, the televisions were playing sports highlight reels: Kobe Bryant slam-dunking on one screen, football players slam-slamming on another.

I read my menu – grilled chicken salad ($9.95), beef and chicken nachos with the works ($11.95), open-face roast turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes, gravy and vegetable ($10.45), deep-fried, beer-battered cod, fries and cole slaw ($10.95) – and had a mini-epiphany: The Pour House offerings are a Dining on a Dime highlight reel.

I’d gotten a sense of this from the Pour House's Facebook page, which lists daily specials. But I wasn’t aware of the breadth of the $12-and-under options until I showed up for a late lunch. The soup/sandwich deal ($10.45) caught my eye, but it was beat out by Yankee pot roast with mashed potatoes and green beans ($10.95).

My meal was set before me so quickly — on a red table decorated with ads — that I'd had just one sip of Switchback before the food came. The tender hunk of slow-roasted beef and mound of potatoes were covered in gravy; the beans were diner-style, cut short and cooked soft.

I studied the ads as I ate, including a centerpiece teaser for CBD splashed in a green that matched my beans. Product placement for this fad has gone too far, I thought, when you're hit up eating comfort food in a sports bar. I checked out the sports memorabilia on the wall, including a poster of Muhammed Ali from his float-like-a-butterfly days. Did the Louisville-born champ eat Yankee pot roast?

After I ate, I talked with the couple at the next booth, Pamela and Ellsworth Lake of Jericho. Pamela, a retired seamstress, told me she and her husband eat at the Pour House about once a month, when she gets a craving for the turkey club sandwich. The Lakes share the classic triple-decker sandwich and split an order of fries. With two draft beers, the meal comes to $21.

The quality of the sandwich is matched by the service and the atmosphere, the Lakes said. “It’s amazing,” Pamela said. At $11.45 with chips, the turkey club makes the highlight reel.
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.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Dining on a Dime: Drifters

Posted By on Tue, Nov 19, 2019 at 4:20 PM


Chickpea patties at Drifters - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Chickpea patties at Drifters
Andrew Ryan wore his baseball cap backward the other night at Drifters, his restaurant in Burlington's Old North End. From a dining table that Ryan built from driftwood, I could read the writing on the bill: BUTTER.

But there was none in my meal, nor in many others Ryan cooked that night. I dined happily on the vegan chickpea patties ($12), which were offered last week for a Seven Days Burger Week special.

The slider-size fritters came with lettuce and tomato, and were served with cabbage slaw and a mound of tangy sliced pickles. I drank a beer and ate Oreos for dessert. The cookies, filled with holiday-hued red creme, were set in a bowl on the bar, free for the taking. (In spite of “cross-contact” with milk, according to an Oreo's FAQ, the cookie is vegan enough for me.)

Ryan is chef-owner at Drifters, which he opened three and a half years ago. His menu has several vegan options and routine vegan specials, meals that server/bartender Maddy McKenna told me are more popular by the day.

“Everyone deserves to be able to eat out,” McKenna said. “You can get creative with vegan food and you can make it delicious, [with] an appreciation for plants.”

I count seven vegan items on Drifters’ menu, including the house salad with kimchi and toasted pistachios ($6), root vegetable fries ($6), seitan tacos ($8) and veggie sliders ($8).

The chickpea patties I ate for Burger Week were dressed with chile aioli and pickles. I added a little crunch between the buns with a spoonful of cabbage, and enjoyed the meal and the cafe's easygoing vibe.

Before I left, I took a look at the beef burger that Drifters also served for Burger Week. The plate was full and beautiful, but it was the crispy fried shallots — not the meat — that tempted me. Drifters is a good place to drift toward non-meat eats.
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.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2020 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401  |  Contact Us
Website powered by Foundation