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Three Penny Wise 

Side Dishes: Taproom ups the ante

Until recently, the Three Penny Taproom in Montpelier had a fairly simple menu consisting of finger foods, housemade pickles, cheeses and cured meats. But new chef Joey Nagy, a recent transplant from Southern California, has expanded the offerings dramatically — even though the compact bar lacks a stove.

“We have 18 to 20 menu items, ranging from bar bites to salads, soups, sandwiches and charcuterie,” Nagy explains. “We’re using the finest ingredients we can find and making simple dishes [from them]. We have a very consistent clientele, so we’re changing the menu every day to keep them interested.”

How do they do it? With a George Foreman grill and a dollop of ingenuity. “We can blanch things with the water out of the coffeepot,” Nagy says cheerfully. Meats are poached in a Crock-Pot. The chef is currently preparing other items in the kitchen at LACE in Barre, and, pending approval from the Vermont Department of Health, a couple of Capital City restaurants have offered up their facilities, too.

When he came to Montpelier, Nagy says, he noticed a bunch of cuisine gaps in his new town. To help fill them, Three Penny is doing themed meals three nights a week: Latin-inspired on Friday, sushi on Saturday and oysters on Sunday. “There’s a high demand here for Japanese food, and nobody is doing oysters,” Nagy notes. “It’s been very well received.”

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Suzanne Podhaizer

Suzanne Podhaizer

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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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