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Dining on a Dime

Friday, November 2, 2018

Dining on a Dime: Mirabelles Café

Posted By on Fri, Nov 2, 2018 at 12:28 PM

Chili and salad - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Chili and salad
Amid the deluge of detritus on Facebook, an image of truth and beauty lit up my feed the other day. It was a chocolate cupcake topped with a mound of vanilla frosting and decorated with sparkly numerals: 28.

“Happy Birthday to us!” the accompanying text read.

Mirabelles Café & Bakery turned 28 this week. The occasion provided a good reason — though not a necessary one — for lunch at one of Burlington’s best restaurants.

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Friday, October 26, 2018

Dining on a Dime: Pho Dang Vietnamese Café

Posted By on Fri, Oct 26, 2018 at 2:03 PM

  • Sally Pollak
  • Pho rau
Cold weather hit hard and fast this week — just in time to freeze out the Dodgers and warm up with soup.

If you're looking for a bowl of soup to be a meal, the thing to eat is pho,  Vietnamese noodle soup. I headed to Pho Dang Vietnamese Café in Winooski, which moved in July from its home of 11 years to new quarters a few blocks north.

The restaurant at 348 Main Street, roughly double the size of the original, is a cheerful and buzzy space currently decorated with goblins and pumpkins. All 14 tables were full the night I dined there, with a steady flow of people arriving. I found a seat at a shiny wooden bar by the front door and within a couple of minutes was served a pot of tea.

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Friday, October 19, 2018

Dining on a Dime: UVMMC Garden Atrium

Posted By on Fri, Oct 19, 2018 at 4:25 PM

Carrot fritters and roast vegetables - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Carrot fritters and roast vegetables

A voluntary trip to the hospital is not a bad thing. Such an outing comes with benefits if the destination is the Garden Atrium café at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

Cost and personal choice are two of the pluses. Local and fresh are two more. With a longstanding commitment to sourcing local ingredients, UVMMC purchases food from more than 70 regional farmers and producers, according to its website.

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Friday, October 5, 2018

Dining on a Dime: Philo Ridge Farm

Posted By on Fri, Oct 5, 2018 at 6:54 PM

Meatball hero at Philo Ridge Farm - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Meatball hero at Philo Ridge Farm
Update October 18, 2018:  Food at Philo Ridge Farm is available for takeout as the farm addresses its waste-water permitting, according to farm officials.

When I pulled into the parking lot of  Philo Ridge Farm in Charlotte the other day, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to dine on a dime at its market café. After all, I squeezed into a space (which was hard to find) between a Mercedes SUV and a Volvo station wagon. A silver BMW arrived not long after I did.

I learned not to judge a café by the cars in its lot. As it turns out, it was no problem at all to eat lunch here for $12.  The difficulty was deciding what to get.

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Friday, September 28, 2018

Dining on a Dime: Friend's Nepali Restaurant in Winooski

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2018 at 4:27 PM

Stuffed tomatoes at Friend's Nepali Restaurant - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Stuffed tomatoes at Friend's Nepali Restaurant
When my computer was getting fixed last week in Winooski, I ducked into a restaurant for lunch across the street from the repair shop. What a lovely surprise!

Friend’s Nepali Restaurant opened six weeks ago at 212 Main Street in Winooski. Its chef and co-owner, Ram Kadariya, started the restaurant after cooking at Central Market in Burlington.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Dining on a Dime: Nomad Coffee (South End Station)

Posted By on Tue, Sep 11, 2018 at 2:13 PM

Early autumn lunch at Nomad Coffee in Burlington - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Early autumn lunch at Nomad Coffee in Burlington
The menu at Nomad Coffee (South End Station) is a seasonal road map as well as a choice of meals. Chef Suzanne Podhaizer presents two lunch options: late summer or early autumn. From there, the selection narrows to meat or vegetarian, brown rice or greens.

I visited the little café on Flynn Avenue last week — a time span in which the temperature dropped from the 90s to sweatshirt weather. Hoping to nudge summer along, I ordered Podhaizer’s autumn creation: roasted squash, caramelized onions, greens, cider sauce and toasted pecans. I chose lentils over chicken, and these were served hot in a mug on the side. I spooned the lentils onto my veggies bite by bite, forming a kind of mini-stew on my plate and delighting in a flavorful and healthy, all-local $10 lunch.

Podhaizer, a former food writer at Seven Days, was chef-owner of Salt Café in Montpelier for five years. At Nomad, she is collaborating with owners Andrew Sepic and Nicole Grinstead to bring food to their second coffee/espresso/tea business — the first one opened in Essex Junction two years ago.

The new café, open weekdays from  7 a.m. to 3 p.m., is at the end of a hallway in the Flynndog building. It occupies the space that formerly housed the South End outpost of Chef’s Corner. Customers order at the counter and food is delivered to your table. The restaurant opens onto an outdoor deck that has several picnic tables, quiet and lovely in late summer and early autumn.

Podhaizer continues her seasonal theme this week but she presents a new menu, offering spiced beef or black beans with mashed potatoes, roasted bell peppers, cherry tomatoes and summer squash (late summer) and chicken or lentils with winter squash, goat cheese, toasted walnuts and brown butter cider sauce (early autumn).

She told me she plans to expand the menu slowly but will continue to make weekly veggie and meat specials to eat with greens, grains or a combination of the two.

On my way home from Nomad, I stopped to talk to a man who I’d seen eating lunch there. Kim Hubbard, a program manager at the Howard Center, told me he discovered Nomad in place of Chef’s Corner, where he used to eat.

“I just like the food over here,” Hubbard said of Nomad. “I like it plated and served. It’s quiet and the people are really friendly.”  He ate last week's late summer lunch, meat version ($12): spiced beef with roasted tomatoes, corn, summer squash and red pepper-parsley sauce.

“It was quite wonderful,” Hubbard said. “They have a niche there, and I hope people find it.”

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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Friday, August 31, 2018

Dining on a Dime: Citizen Cider

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 4:44 PM

Mushroom tacos at Citizen Cider - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Mushroom tacos at Citizen Cider
"What’s for dinner?" could be the most-asked question around. "I don’t know yet" is the standard answer — and it’s the one I got at around 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning when I called Citizen Cider to ask what the  $10 special was for the weekly Supper Club.

The nonanswer, though a bit surprising from a restaurant, was nonetheless familiar. Who knows what’s for dinner until about half an hour before you start making it?

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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Dining on a Dime: Otter Creek Bakery

Posted By on Sat, Aug 11, 2018 at 8:11 AM

Otter Creek sub - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Otter Creek sub
The home opener of the Middlebury College football team is six weeks away. It’s time to start pre-gaming for Panthers football.

No, I don’t mean drinking beer in the back of  your car or grilling sausage at the stadium parking lot. I’m talking about an anticipatory trip to  Otter Creek Bakery, a lunchtime oasis not far from the college football field. The café’s Otter Creek sub ($9.50) — akin to an Italian hoagie — and chocolate chip/walnut/orange cookie ($2.50) together form a top-notch, filling meal.

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Friday, July 27, 2018

Dining on a Dime: Joe's Snack Bar

Posted By on Fri, Jul 27, 2018 at 4:10 PM

Scallop basket at Joe's Snack Bar - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Scallop basket at Joe's Snack Bar
When my daughter was little, one of her favorite books was Where Does Joe Go? The delightful picture book by Vermonter Tracey Campbell Pearson imagines the places where Joe — the proprietor of Joe’s Snack Bar — might go in the off-season.

Joe’s Snack Bar, of course, has real-life roots in Jericho, where it was founded in 1950 by Joe Rotunda. He owned the local IGA store and opened a snack bar, where he made hard ice cream, next to his shop. Joe’s son, Joe Jr., took over Joe’s and ran it with his partner in business and life, Marilyn Kozlowski, for 35 years. Kozlowski, 67, has owned and operated it since Joe’s death eight years ago.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Dining on a Dime: Pioneer Food Truck

Posted By on Fri, May 11, 2018 at 2:31 PM

Fries and a chicken sandwich from Pioneer Food Truck & Catering Co. - HANNAH PALMER EGAN
  • Hannah Palmer Egan
  • Fries and a chicken sandwich from Pioneer Food Truck & Catering Co.
In March, Seven Days previewed the Pioneer Food Truck & Catering Co. With acclaimed chef Jean-Luc Matecat and his partner, restaurant veteran Lindsay Taylor, behind the wheel, it promised to be one of this spring's more exciting mobile openings.

Last Friday, May 4, Matecat and Taylor made their Burlington debut outside the Maltex Building on Pine Street. On Wednesday, May 9, I wandered over for a taste.

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