Burlington's ArtsRiot Plays It Big and Bold, From Eats to Events | 7 Nights Spotlight | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Burlington's ArtsRiot Plays It Big and Bold, From Eats to Events 

Published June 1, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. | Updated August 27, 2019 at 1:51 p.m.

click to enlarge Truck Stop - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Truck Stop

At ArtsRiot, an event space and restaurant in Burlington's funky South End, the words "Destroy apathy" appear on the menu, the dining room wall and the lips of the staff — as if the reclaimed warehouse were secretly a den for superheroes. In some ways, it may be: The mission is to create social change through collective, positive action — and by having fun.

click to enlarge George Lambertson - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • George Lambertson

There's no question that ArtsRiot plays it big and bold, starting with the food. Chefs George Lambertson and Jean-Luc Matecat's ever-changing dishes are a riot of flavor and texture. Golden seared snapper rests on snowy-white corn velouté, topped with green-garlic pesto, purple cornflower petals and seasoned bacon oozing orange fat, allowing diners to taste the rainbow. Sichuan tenderloin tartare is garnished with cilantro, peanuts, pickled shiitake mushrooms and surprise bites of rhubarb. The popular popcorn chicken promises a touch of "Korean sparkle."

Dining doesn't get much more engaged than scooping marrow from a roasted beef bone, biting into an ear of Mexican street corn or chowing down on al fresco kimchi tacos from the restaurant's award-winning food truck, which parks out back on summer Fridays. During those Truck Stops, hundreds of hungry patrons come for showstopping meals-on-wheels from the area's best mobile vendors.

click to enlarge Artsriot - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Artsriot

During the day, the restaurant may host volunteers peeling and chopping vegetables for the food shelf; at night, the space is home to drag balls, poetry readings, film screenings, concerts and dance socials. The common thread through it all: those plates of brilliantly colored food.

So locals gather here to eat, of course — but also to greet neighbors, forge new connections and dream up collaborations. They know that ArtsRiot serves gutsy, inspired nourishment for belly, mind and soul.

This article was originally published in 7 Nights: The Seven Days Guide to Vermont Restaurants & Bars in April 2018.
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About The Author

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Former contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the first Seven Days food editor) as well as a chef, farmer, and food-systems consultant. She has given talks at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture's "Poultry School" and its flagship "Young Farmers' Conference." She can slaughter a goose, butcher a pig, make ramen from scratch, and cook a scallop perfectly.

About the Artist

Matthew Thorsen

Matthew Thorsen

Matthew Thorsen was a photographer for Seven Days 1995-2018. Read all about his life and work here.


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