Restaurants & Bars

BURLINGTON vt. restaurant reviews 8/22/05

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BURLINGTON vt. restaurant reviews 8/22/05

OPINIONATED CHEF | Aug 22, 2005 12:37 PM

2 Dinners, 2Brunches, Take-out:

CHRISTOPHES in Vergennes:Exc. apps and desserts; boring entrees. pretty room but very noisy.
Apps: 1)decomposed-style Gazpacho: very clean and pure essence of tomato and cucumber accented by a tiny ball of basil sorbet, topped with 2 small squid-filled with bean puree. 2)roasted anaheim pepper filled with brandade, in pool of roasted red pepper puree. Both perfect dishes.

Entrees: 1) Angel Hair Pasta cooked in shellfish broth, topped with lobster and julienned zucch and carrots. tasted so BORING and lifeless until i added lemon juice, butter. then fine but not special. 2)veal sweetbreads in puff pastry with BEEF demi- not veal . no wine, no madeira, no port in the sauce.nothing but BEEF stock. how could any chef do that- overpower the delicacy of veal sweetbreads with a strong beef flavor and leave the dish lifeless? so many wonderful things you can do with sweetbreads-so mild they are, like chicken. i wanted to yell:"pass me the madeira, port, wine, moutarde de meaux, roasted garlic puree- ANYTHING" to save this dish. what a shame.

Desserts: truly FABULOUS gianduja ice cream and litchee sorbet-( best gianduja and litchee i've ever had- out of many samples! )

A SINGLE PEBBLE: Some excellent things, some nothing special; way too expensive for the very small portion size of many things. All produce and other ingredients very fresh.Exc. spunky and knowledgable waitress; characterless back room.

Memorable, order-again, come-back-for-Highlights: Tea Smoked Duck with Rice cake and veggies( a daily special), Mock Eel, Dry fried green beans.
V. good- 5 FlavorChicken.
O.K.: Double garlic eggplant- TINY portion for $9, no spunk(and garlic flavor not very detectable)
Not good: Copper well noodles. Strong uncooked garlic flavor-yech. sauce lacking spunk.

My take on the pricing there: Educated Caucasian owner/chef not willing to work to the bone,(unlike his chinese/american chef counterparts) for small profit, so he builds, and succeeds in selling , his restaurant's image- on 'TRULY AUTHENTIC- LIKE YOU'VE NEVER HAD BEFORE' -so he can charge $9 for 30cents of japanese eggplant.- and people love him for it. if he uses all that profit to pay his chefs more, well then maybe 'he's forgiven'- but that's something i do not know.

PENNY CLUSE: 2 BREAKFAST/BRUNCH.Well-earned reputation.Warm friendly big smile greets,welcomes and seats you by name.Bright, cheery room, homey attractive.Happy campers from all walks and stages of life.
EXC.: Zydeco eggs w/ black beans,andouille and corn muffins(added guac.salsa)Only problem-' over medium' eggs were both days over-cooked and had to be sent back).; zucchini bread fr. toast w/ peach butter ,and cinn.raisin fr toast. Salad w/ lime cilantro dressing. Hoorah for innovative salad dressings.
NOT GOOD: Chicken (very little)in OVER HERBED gravy over excellent biscuit.

SMOKEJACKS- brunch. Attractive comfortable,sleek room; friendly, pretty,clueless waitress.
EXC: Chicken ,polenta and sweet potato hash w/ cilantro. Terrific flavor but had more of that particularly flavorful chicken, and less starch, when they made it last year w/o the polenta. Turkey sandwich.

TAKE-OUT FAVORITES for later in the week,back in Boston!:
5 SPICE: evil jungle prince chicken, lemon-choc and tangerine ginger cheesecake.
ALI-KABOBS: falafel, pork souvlaki, curried chicken in pitas.
KLINGERS BAKERY: Jalapeno cheddar bread
GOOD FOOD CAFE in Vergennes: Maple Pecan Bars

Thank you, talented chefs of Vermont. We really love to visit Burlington. No highway billboards,friendly fun people, wonderful dogs,beautiful setting of mountains and lake, tons of great historic well-maintained architecture , Shelburne Museum ,and plenty of exc. dining.

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