Sky's the Limit | First Bite | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
Pin It

Sky's the Limit 

First Bite: Sky Burgers

  • Matthew Thorsen

With its slick logo, goofball aesthetic and catchy but generic name, Burlington’s new burger joint is easy to mistake for a chain. It’s not. Sky Burgers’ owner and namesake is a local — Stephen “Sky” Kenney, longtime manager of Splash on the Waterfront. Located on up-and-coming lower Church Street in the spot formerly occupied by Tilley’s, Sky Burgers is the first of two patty-centric restos planned for the Queen City in 2010. The other, Bank Street’s Farmhouse Tap & Grill — with a focus on local meats, cheeses and charcuterie — should be open by early summer.

For a city of its size, Burlington doesn’t offer many casual lunch options, and that may be one reason why Sky Burgers, just over a week old, is already attracting an impressive noontime crowd. It doesn’t hurt that burgers, shakes and crispy fried things never go out of style.

This isn’t a place where items are chosen for their local or organic provenance. Given that, the fare isn’t cheap — but neither is it shockingly expensive. An 8-ounce burger is $9; a side of chicken fingers, $6.50. Adult beverages range from populist draft Bud Light and Meridian Chardonnay to swankier Switchback and half-bottles of Veuve Clicquot.

Sky Burgers strives to be fun and hip and sometimes succeeds. Calling the “kidz” grilled-cheese sandwich a Burgerless Cheezeburger is kind of cute, but when the Lolcats-style lingo pops up all over the menu, it backfires. Asiago “cheeze” sounds like a processed American rendition of the classy Italian original.

There’s also plenty of whimsy in the signage — bathrooms are labeled “Daddy’Os” and “Baby Dolls,” and the walls offer mottos such as “We guarantee fast service no matter how long it takes.” Servers are referred to as “food transportation experts.”

All the FTEs we encounter are genuinely pleasant and helpful. One volunteers that the burger meat is ground in-house and is “very fresh.” It’s also cooked to order. A 6-ounce, medium-rare Mama Sky Burger arrives with a juicy red center and a colorful topping of homemade roasted red pepper marmalade dotted with plump yellow raisins and soft hunks of roasted garlic. A meat-free patty, topped with balsamic-laced roasted veggies, means that vegetarians won’t have to stick with salads.

Kenney confesses to a penchant for turning classic entrées into bun-covered sandwiches. Those who want to see how well he succeeds may be inclined to sample the Fish Taco Burger, laced with Holy Chipotle Aioli and topped with a pile of freshly made (but under-vinegared) slaw. For an extra buck, swap the standard French fries for crispy Onion Petals with an extra side of the smoky, spicy mayo. The cut of the onion pieces makes ’em easier to eat than their ring-shaped cousins.

The drippy BBQ Pork Burger, slathered in a homemade sauce, pairs nicely with the thick, steak-fry-style sweet potato fries. Other snacks from the fryer include green beans — robbed of nutritional value by a coating of super-crispy batter and a hot oil bath — calamari-like Squidly Stix and fries smothered in chili and “cheeze.”

Since Sky Burgers is so new, the menu is still compact. But in a couple weeks, says Kenney, he’ll start offering some specials — displayed on the city’s most expensive menu board, a big, flat-screen TV. They’ll include Mischka’s Meatloaf, Macadamia Nut Crusted Chicken and the exotic-sounding Singapore Salad.

Stripped of all its gimmicks, Sky Burgers offers plenty of fodder for burger fans — including quirky, house-made sauces not found at most chain eateries. It doesn’t have localvore cachet and it’s not haute cuisine, but if you’re seeking a quick, filling downtown lunch with an emphasis on fun, it may just hit the spot.

Did you appreciate this story?

Show us your ❤️ by becoming a Seven Days Super Reader.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

Pin It

More by Suzanne Podhaizer

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... more

About the Artist

Matthew Thorsen

Matthew Thorsen

Matthew Thorsen has been shooting photographs for Seven Days since 1995. Read all about his work here.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Seven Days moderates comments in order to ensure a civil environment. Please treat the comments section as you would a town meeting, dinner party or classroom discussion. In other words, keep commenting classy! Read our guidelines...

Note: Comments are limited to 300 words.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2019 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401
Website powered by Foundation