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People's Palate 

7 Nights readers weigh in on where to eat beyond Burlington

Everyone's a critic on the 7 Nights website. In our online dining guide, readers can leave "comment cards" touting their favorite restaurants or warning others away from places they dislike. But a few, hyper-popular places get the lion's share of the comments. For instance, 53 diners have registered their opinions on A Single Pebble; 48 have scored American Flatbread's Burlington Hearth, while Big Fatty's BBQ and Leunig's Bistro are tied at 39 reviews each. Taste and Asiana House both boast 37. While these eateries serve dishes ranging from Buddha's beef to roasted salsa "pizza," they all have something in common: They're in Burlington.

We think it's time to share the love. Seven Days has scoured an entire year's worth of comments to help tip people off to dining spots outside the "big city," and a selection of that feedback follows. Self-appointed taste makers are indicated by their chosen screen names. Bear in mind, we can't — and don't — corroborate their dining experiences, and we've only minimally corrected their grammar and spelling. Want to disagree, chime in, review your own favorite local spot? Visit www.sevennightsvt.com and tell us all about it.

158 Main

158 Main Street, Jeffersonville, 644-8100

Rated: 4 Stars

"2Labs" says: "Living in Franklin County, one does not have a lot of choices for dining out unless you want frozen food or something fried and dripping in grease. 158 Main is an absolute life-saver for us . . . I try to order something different each time we go because there are so many choices. Breakfast is enough to keep you full until dinner that night — need I say more? Ambiance is ever changing depending on the season. It could be very loud with families during the winter holidays and school vacations, or quiet and enjoyable when just the locals are dining out. Good wine selection and local brews on tap. One of the best French onion soups I've ever had — my husband gets it every single time we're there . . ."

Alley Coffee House & Ice Cream Shop,

15 Haydenberry Drive, Milton, 893-1571

Rated: 5 Stars

"Aquietnight" says: "I was pleasantly surprised when I stopped in here, planning on just grabbing a cup of coffee. Sandwiches, smoothies, ice cream and even bubble tea were available, all at reasonable prices. Alley is not heavily staffed, so your order may take a moment, but the staff are nice and friendly. The seating area is great and cozy."

Alpenhaus Restaurant

2038 Mountain Road, Stowe, 253-0002

Rated: 5 Stars

"Skeletondance" says: "For years, I've passed this restaurant, thinking it's a furniture store. Go around back, however, and you will be greeted by a huge, gorgeous dessert case, which on the menu takes up two dense pages. There is no lack of choices at Alpenhaus. My party of three had three different types of schnitzel (including one eggplant one), all of which were excellent. The accompanying spaetzle was slightly undercooked, but I was nonetheless thrilled to be eating it. We all loved the desserts as well, especially the strudel, which was quite spicy, almost Moroccan in character, thanks to the strong cinnamon influence. I know this will sound strange, but the whipped cream accompanying the desserts was by far the best I've ever had. Extraordinarily light in both taste and texture, and inexplicably fruity. Of note as well was the butternut squash soup — the thickest one I've experienced — which was sweetened with maple syrup but tempered with sour cream. The one complaint is the expense. Many entrees are in the $40 range. For once, though, I say that this is worth the occasional splurge. We will certainly be back — when we have saved up."

The Bee's Knees

82 Lower Main Street, Morrisville, 888-7889

Rated: 4 Stars

"Fiddler" says: "This little café/pub has changed life in Morrisville for so many people . . . The people are a diverse cross section of Lamoille county. The food is just as good! It is mostly (?) local & organic meat and veggies. The food is fresh and delicious. I've had bacon, egg & cheese sandwich w/great coffee for breakfast, organic PB, honey & banana sandwich for lunch, roast pork loin w/apples & cheddar for dinner, and never been disappointed! Then there's the music. Local talent is huge and there are national traveling acts in from time to time. This is a great place in a wonderful NE town."

Café Mediterano

17 Park Street, Essex Junction, 878-9333

Rated: 5 Stars

"Sassy Foody" says: "Having had a few month hiatus since I had consumed a gyro I was very excited to swing in to Café Mediterano for a simple dinner bite. The Stuffed Grape leaves were fabulous, served with warm pita bread that was to die for. The Gyros, mine chicken and my dining partner's the lamb and beef, were filled with Mediterranean delights of fresh feta, the sing [sic] of onions, and stuffed in a fabulous unique pita . . . I will be returning many many times, as the service was friendly and the food amazing!"

Edelweiss Bakery and Café

325 Lower Main Street West, Johnson, 635-7946

Rated: 5 Stars

"Always Hungry" says: "Edelweiss Bakery will solve your hunger problems. Lunch, an under appreciated meal, is fabulous at Edelweiss. They don't know the meaning of run of the mill when it comes to sandwiches. From chicken with brie, assorted greens and raspberry vinaigrette to their 'Sugarhouse' with maple ham, bacon, cheese, greens and maple mustard, they rule the roost in lunch fare. All their sandwiches are served on homemade bread with chips, pickle, a piece of fruit and something sinful from the pastry case. All for an average of $6 to $8. They also serve salads, funky café drinks and ooh la la pastries. Wednesday night is pasta night, and they do not disappoint. The only thing wrong with Edelweiss is the parking lot! Try to avoid lunch hour rush from the college, if possible. A gem hidden in a small town."

Espresso Bueno

136 North Main Street, Barre, 479-0896

Rated: 5 Stars

"Father1" says: "What's better than a fresh and delicious cup of joe, warm atmosphere, fun service, and tasty Morning Glory muffins? I have yet to figure it out. This place is a great antidote to the groggy morning. Their Rwandan dark roast is heavenly."

Gracie's

1652 Mountain Road, Stowe, 253-8741

Rated: 4 Stars

"Eel" says: "As a dog lover, I really enjoy the play on words on the Gracie's menu and I think the gift shop is a hoot. Gracie's is a great choice in Stowe for a reasonably priced, filling meal. I've never had a bad dinner or lunch at Gracie's!"

Gusanoz Mexican Restaurant

21710 Maxham Meadow Way, Woodstock, 457-1400

Rated: 5 Stars

"Calyx157" says: "Omigawd!!!!! We've just died and gone to Mexico. Best Mexican food in New England!!!! Haven't had food this good since we lived in CA, seven years ago, and we've been in bloody mourning . . . Lovely chiles rellenos, incredible frijoles . . . Absolutely divine foods, salsas, guac, homemade hot tortillas and chips! Glorious beer (could have been a lot colder . . . ) and divine margaritas. Only thing not good was the flan which was way too hard and rubbery (but we did lick the entire plate clean of the caramel sauce . . . sorry, we couldn't help ourselves . . . Well worth the almost hour drive from Rutland and can't wait to go again!!!!!"

John Egan's Big World Pub & Grill

8 Route 17, Waitsfield, 496-3033

Rated: 4 Stars

"Caprilady" says: "The food is consistent and good, with creative options . . . parmesan crust scallop app, tofu satay, salads are OK too. The burgers are miraculous from what I'm told and have seen. The service is good, too! What are the downfalls, you ask? Since it is one of very few restaurants in the valley, it is very often packed even on the weekdays. Seating outside is a bit cramped and not always available . . . It is the spice of the valley and is good food, in good time, with a glorious bar area and kid friendly."

Kismet

207 Barre Street, Montpelier, 223-8646

Rated: 4 Stars

"Mmmfood" says: "I love eating here! The crepes are amazing, and there are tons of vegan options. Where else can you get tempeh, kale and root veggies without making them yourself? The people who work there are very friendly and remembered us several months later. The chocolate (vegan) truffles were amazing! And the dandelion latte was delicious."

Lippitt's Restaurant & Morgan's Pub

665 Stock Farm Road, Randolph, 728-5575

Rated: 4 Stars

"Noreservations" says: "The chef at Lippitt's has assembled a menu with an eclectic assortment of choices based on many local products . . . Shrimp nachos with tomatillo salsa were a tasty start, followed by a large (and unexpected) green salad with a maple vinaigrette and freshly baked bread. The pork tenderloin in plum sauce encrusted with pecans was a wonderful combination of juicy pork, sweet plum sauce, and a crunchy pecan coating. The Vermont veal scallopini blended a non-traditional mix of flavors and textures: pancetta, pearl onions and, of all things, chestnuts — a clever addition whose mealy texture contrasted with the crunch of the onions — served on a creamy risotto with bits of butternut squash. The wine list had many good choices at reasonable prices. Service was attentive and got us to the show on time. The green salad should have been better culled to remove greens past their prime, but that was the only negative. With so many interesting menu choices and fine execution, we will definitely be back."

Maple Valley Country Store

Route 2, Plainfield, 454-8626

Rated: 5 Stars

"Castironcat" says: "It's the egg sandwiches I can't get enough of: Upgrade to free-range local eggs, have it on a bagel, with cheese, butter, salt and pepper. The sandwiches are delicious on homemade bread. The coffee is fresh and hot, and it's hard to pass by the funky gifts, like a Jesus action figure or pirate lunchbox. This is the spot to pick up a gift when you're on the way to the party! I do it all the time . . . Try to pass up the homemade pastries like cinnamon rolls and chocolate turnovers, I dare you. You'll find yourself a regular there, too."

McKee's Pub & Grill

19 East Allen Street, Winooski, 655-0048

Rated: 4 Stars

"Gwennie" says: "Ok, I was skeptical. But make your way past the beer and football screens and you will find yourself in a very cozy back room that serves really great Sunday brunch! I ordered the Eggs Nantucket, a take on Benedict, with crabmeat and asparagus. Overloaded with crabmeat, no skimpy portions here. I ordered the hollandaise on the side to get just the right amount. My friend ordered the seafood crêpe, which was equally good. They used small shrimp, yet large scallops, not bay. The herb hollandaise was a nice flavorful touch, although hers was not on the side and they were quite liberal with the ladle. The homefries are also some of the best I've ever had. Red bliss potatoes, thinly sliced and sauteed with onions. They were perfect. Great service to boot! I'll be back!"

On the Rise Bakery

Corner of Bridge and Esplanade, Richmond, 434-7787

Rated: 5 Stars

"Dinnercritic" says: "This place is awesome. We started out with a Morning Glory muffin, a cheese-filled cinnamon roll and coffee from local roasters Awake. Then our breakfast order arrived. I went with the breakfast sandwich served with fresh-from-the-garden-outside-the-door tomatoes, and my dining partner had the breakfast pizza. The pizza surpassed any expectations: wonderfully cooked wood-fired pizza topped with home-fries, egg and cheese. It was scrumptious!"

Pho Dang Vietnamese Café

215 Main Street, Winooski, 655-0707

Rated: 4 Stars

"Ychick" says: "I can't state it too strongly, I LOVE this restaurant. The Pho broth is rich and fragrant, the spring rolls are clean and fresh tasting. Everything I have had at Pho Dang has been wonderful, though due to the addictive nature of Pho, it took me six trips before my Pho cravings were satisfied to the point where I could venture elsewhere on the menu. At $6.50-$8.50 each, the entrées are the best bargain you are going to find, and the service is always fast and friendly. The atmosphere is classic hole in the wall, but what do you expect for a $25 dinner for two with appetizers, tax and tip?"

Quality Bake Shop

91 Pearl Street, Essex Junction, 878-3798

Rated: 5 Stars

"Lboogie83" says: "I went searching all over Chittenden County finding an inexpensive place to make my husband his birthday cake, exactly how I wanted it. After numerous calls, drop-bys and turn-downs with other bakeries, I spotted Quality Bake Shop . . . the bubbly waitress asked me if she could help me. At that point I was running out of time! I told her that I needed a "video game" cake and I needed it by tomorrow morning. She told me, of course, and to just go over to Brooks, pick out a video game magazine, and they could put any picture out of the magazine RIGHT ON THE CAKE!! Now this wasn't a Price Chopper cake . . . this cake was a tasty half sheet, decorated with a gory picture from "GEARS OF WAR" for a little over twenty bucks. I was so grateful for the extremely helpful staff and the punctual presentation of the cake. My husband was sooooo impressed . . ."

Sambel's Restaurant & Catering

2000 Airport Road, Berlin, 223-6776

Rated: 5 Stars

"Roxster" says: "We've often enjoyed the four-course 'magic hour' available with the coupon from local papers or their website (www.sambels.com). It starts with a giant cracker basket and pot of cheese, then a big green salad, sorbet to cleanse the palate and a delicious rich entrée and potato. Bob and Brenda Sambel have provided reliably good food to central Vermonters for decades, and the magic-hour specials make it really affordable! My favorite entrées are the broiled haddock or the clam strips. You won't leave hungry!

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About The Author

Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

Bio:
Contributor Suzanne Podhaizer is an award-winning food writer (and the former 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,... more

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