There was this MasterCard commercial a few years ago that begins with a dressed-up couple excitedly entering a beautiful restaurant. They order a bottle of fine wine, and are then served a ridiculously miniscule entrée. The commercial ends with them stocking up on junk food at a convenience store in order to round out their meal. I was reminded of that commercial last night while dining at the Bluebird Tavern.
After hearing a lot of hype and ads on the radio, my boyfriend and I suggested the Bluebird Tavern to our new neighbors, two brand-new Burlington residents from the gastronomic paradise of Portland, OR. We were excited to try the constantly changing localvore menu, and looked forward to discovering a great new dining option.
We were disappointed in just about every way. The menu was cryptic, with virtually no descriptions of the fare. Nor was our waiter particularly helpful in deciphering the menu.
There were almost no vegetarian options (and certainly no vegan), and I ended up getting the only entree that fell into the vegetarian category: flatbread with chanterelles and feta. That's it, no salad, no sides… hardly a balanced meal. It was delicious, but was rather small and should have been a shared appetizer. Oh, it was a spendy $11 or $12.
My boyfriend chose the "Butcher's Block" entrée, $15 - an assortment of meats with grilled toast. The waiter described it as the chef's specialty, and his description made it sound enormous. Served on a cutting block, it was surprisingly small and offered no vegetables or sides. My boyfriend said it was tasty, but it certainly didn't satiate his appetite. Again, it should have been a shared appetizer.
Another companion ordered the Maine Fluke entree, $11 or $12, which was sushi-grade fluke served with cracklin' (bacon topping). From the server's description, she expected a substantial entree-sized serving of fish. Wrong. The dish was shockingly small, just a few slivers of fish with a scant topping. No sides, no salad. She was visibly disappointed and had to pick off her husband's plate to even begin to curb her appetite.
Her husband chose the double burger with fries, $14, which he declared tasty. But, again, he was surprised at the lack of any vegetable options - no lettuce, tomato, onion, etc. As for quantity, he definitely chose the best option among the four of us. It was small by burger standards, but was the only entree among the four we ordered that came close to a full meal.
I will say, the ambience was lovely and the food itself didn't disappoint. It just wasn't anything special. There are plenty of other Burlington dinner options that offer a similar menu, better food, and significantly larger portions for comparable prices. I'd suggest The Daily Planet, Sugarsnap (fabulous localvore take-out), American Flatbread (which does a much better flatbread than Bluebird's), or Stone Soup.
The service was also very disappointing. After delivering our entrees, our waiter disappeared. He never checked on us. My boyfriend eventually flagged him down to order extra bread to finish his meat spreads, and the request took more than 15 minutes. For bread!
We agreed that the experience was an all-around failure. My boyfriend, who religiously tips 20% or more, only left 10%. He just couldn't justify leaving any more. We then invited our neighbors over for homemade cookies to help fill our stomachs. While we may be overly accustomed to the supersized American portions (and usually, happily, take home leftovers for our backyard chickens), the Bluebird's paltry portions were simply disgraceful.
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