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Looking for Best Destination Restaurants in VT, NH, ME

I would second Michael's on the Hill. Probably our favorite spot in the state...consistently excellent, innovative food, elegant service, lovely folks who run the place. No "we're too cool for you" vibe like we've sometimes gotten at Hen of the Wood (though I love their food). Had an amazing dinner at the chef's table at "Amuse" at the Inn at Essex...basically you put yourself in the chef's hands for $70 and he produces some truly wonderful, locally sourced and inventive food. Have heard great things about Claire's in Hardwick, but haven't been. Cannot recommend Rabbit Hill Inn, though. Was hugely underwhelmed by both quality of food and (undeservedly) snooty service. Simon Pierce's restaurant in Queechee also gets raves, though I haven't been.
Good luck! Please post when you come out with your article, as we'd all like to hear about the winning restaurants!

Mar 06, 2012
vjpam in Northern New England

Mexican groceries in Vermont?

Thanks, Morganna. I'm not opposed to ordering online, I just need the spices by this Wednesday.

Feb 13, 2012
vjpam in Northern New England

Mexican groceries in Vermont?

I know of many Asian grocers, but not any Mexican or Latin-specific food stores in the Burlington area. I am looking for some lesser-known chiles (guajillos, dried or in powder form) to make some authentic Tacos al Pastor, but have come up empty in my searches.

If any chowhounds have any tips or suggestions (besides ordering online), I'd be grateful!

Feb 13, 2012
vjpam in Northern New England

vergennes laundry

Yes, excellent coffees and French bread and pastries, albeit a very limited menu. Their croissants and pain au chocolat are without compare in these parts. One quibble: breads are only available at 4pm. What kind of bakery doesn't have fresh bread in the morning? It's Tribeca vibe is also a bit of an anomaly in this rural/blue collar area.

Sep 21, 2011
vjpam in Northern New England

Asian/Japanese grocery store in VT?

Try Thai Phat, at 100 North St. in downtown Burlington. Biggest selection of Japanese stuff I've found so far, along with a great selection of Vietnamese and Thai foods. Sushido (formerly Sakura) in Williston (the place the previous poster referred to) also has authentic short grain rice, along with a small selection of other Japanese groceries.

And I'm pretty sure the big Shaw's on Shelburne Rd. has short grain rice (I've bought it there), along with other basic Japanese sauces and provisions. Good luck!

Aug 06, 2011
vjpam in Northern New England

Aunt in hospital at UVM - would like to send good food to her but from where?

Unfortunately, there's no Zabar's equivalent in Burlington, but you may want to try Fresh Market, which does nice gift baskets and a lovely assortment of prepared foods as well.

For more specifically "New York" foods, you could order her something from the Sadie Katz Deli, which is the only place to find H&H Bagels in these parts.
Their link:

Good luck, and a speedy recovery to your aunt!

Sadie Katz Deli
189 Bank St, Burlington, VT 05401

Sep 28, 2010
vjpam in Northern New England

Anything new in Burlington, Vt. ?

I would avoid Shelburne Farms unless you're going for breakfast. We went last summer and were very chef is extremely inconsistent, and I wound up sending a dish back (which I've never done before) for being both unappetizing and unappealing. Service was also spotty, so the experience really didn't measure up to the prices.

We always love Hen of the Wood, and Michael's on the Hill (on the way from Waterbury to Stowe) is one of our favorites. I'd recommend you check that out as well.

Hen of the Wood
92 Stowe St Ste 1, Waterbury, VT 05676

Jul 05, 2010
vjpam in Northern New England

Festive Dinner in Vt

I really like La Tourterelle, a new place on Rt. 7 between Middlebury and Vergennes.
Black Sheep Bistro in Vergennes is also great food, a little noisy, but a fun place to go.

Black Sheep Bistro
253 Main St, Vergennes, VT 05491

Mar 28, 2010
vjpam in Northern New England


I have to respectfully disagree about Tourterelle. I found the food inventive and engaging, the service warm and professional, and the atmosphere elegant but not stuffy. I've consistently found Starry Night to be the kind of place that doesn't live up to its hype...seems to try to hard with fancy combinations that don't always work, and I've never felt a warm or friendly vibe there.
You may also want to try to the Black Sheep Bistro in Vergennes (upscale bistro food, warm and cozy (tad noisy), with awesome Belgian fries and garlic mashed potatoes with every entree. The same chef owns the Bobcat Grill in Bistro, another favorite. They make their own microbrews and have inventive, fresh takes on comfort food and pub grub. Marys of Baldwin Creek, between Bristol and Hinesburg, is an inn with a very good restaurant. (Stellar garlic soup.) Food used to be better, but it's still an inviting, friendly place that tries hard.
In Burlington, I always have a good experience at the Tratorria Delia, and also like L'Amante for Italian (L'Amante feels more formal/Northern Italian, while the Trattoria is in a cozy wooden basement with a fireplace, and specializes in great Tuscan varieties of pasta and grilled meats and fishes.) For a relatively hidden place with great wine and steak (and not a whole lot else), try the Blue Cat. It's in the building just next to American Flatbread, another good place for interesting pizza and tons of beer choices (if you don't mind waits and a bit of cacophony in the cavernous space.)
Good luck, and Happy New Year!

Starry Night Cafe
5467 Route Seven, Ferrisburgh, VT 05456

Starry Night Cafe
5467 Route 7, Ferrisburgh, VT 05456

Black Sheep Bistro
253 Main St, Vergennes, VT 05491

American Flatbread
46 Lareau Rd, Waitsfield, VT 05673

Dec 31, 2009
vjpam in Northern New England

Boston to Shelburne Vt

I live in Shelburne, and have tried all the places mentioned so far. My preference for dinner right in town: the Bearded Frog. It's owned by the same chef as the Black Sheep Bistro, but is larger, with a more varied menu. Truth be told, I've had better luck with the pub menu than the regular menu, though. Plus, the bar is a cozier place to hang out. I'd recommenc the amazing burgers, made from the end cuts of filet mignon. And ask for their largest mug of Switchback (a local microbrew) - big enough to serve several thirsty friends.

For breakfast or lunch, I'd recommend the Open Arms Cafe, a warm, bright little organic localvore cafe on Harbor Rd (a short walk from the Bearded Frog.) Vegan friendly, with great meat options like Cuban sandwiches and stellar soups.

For fine dining in Shelburne, try Cafe Shelburne (mostly French and continental). Most dishes are excellent, though I have had fish and seafood that was overcooked/oversalted (for some reason few Vermont restaurants know how to cook fish properly.) Meats/poultry dishes have all been very good.

Bistro Sauce is wildly overrated, in my experience. I have given it four tries, and have consistently received poor service and spotty food (e.g. burgers requested rare came charred black, salad greens were wilted) It does have a lovely patio, but I'm afraid we're past the season for that. I have also had bad luck recently at the Inn at Shelburne Farms, which has a new chef. Service has slid. and food, which used to be exquisite, is all over the map. (I actually had to send a dish back, which I have never done at any restaurant, ever.


Further afield (about 30 minutes down Rt. 7, past Vergennes), is a new French restaurant that's been getting terrific press. Tourterelle is in a renovated old farmhouse, and has an intriguing menu.

Let us know where you end up!

Oct 23, 2009
vjpam in All New England Archive


The Bobcat Grill in Bristol is great - really good, creative, localvore pub food, with occasional live music (on Thursdays, if I recall.) I do think Pizza on Earth is overrated and overpriced. Their pies are quite small, and expensive at around $16. Service is also spotty and can be downright rude. (On several occasions my family and I were ignored, while servers helped friends who arrived well after us.) They do have fantastic home-made gelato and baked goods, though.
I would second the recommendations for the Black Sheep Bistro (amazing french fries and garlic mashed potatoes with every order) and the 3 Squares Cafe in Vergennes. The Red Mill, near the Basin Harbour Club in Vergennes, is also a good, upscale pub-grub place to check out.

Jul 14, 2009
vjpam in Northern New England

Burlington/Lake Champlain vacation advice and suggestions

Visit Shelburne Farms, but skip dinner. Very overpriced for the quality.
I have never had a bad meal, or a bad experience at the upscale Trattoria Delia (Burlington), Michael's on the Hill, or Hen of the Wood (both in Waterbury.) For more modestly priced, inventive food in Burlington, I also love Magnolia (localvore, veg specialties, especially good for breakfast), Pacific Rim (great pan-Asian menu, casual, hearty portions) and the Daily Planet.
Bon Appetit!

Jul 13, 2009
vjpam in All New England Archive

Shelburne Farms: Downhill Alert

I love Shelburne Farms' philosophy: fine food, locally-sourced and organically produced, served at the height of its flavor. The problem is that the quality and presentation, at least under the new chef (whose background includes the decidedly downscale Three Tomatoes Trattoria and Bolton Valley ski resort ) doesn't match up to its stellar reputation and equally stellar prices.

I've been here under previous chefs and was always "wowed." This time, I took two bites of a "market garden risotto" and had no further interest in tasting the dish. Risotto is normally a delicate dish (indeed, I normally won't order it unless I'm confident of the kitchen's ability), and the description sounded lovely, but what arrived was a rather gloopy-looking mess of tomato-colored (presumably, beet-flavored) rice topped with large chunks of baby turnips and beets, with salad greens tossed in. It looked unappetizing, with muddied flavors and colors and an unappealing texture. While I vastly preferred a cold beet soup that was brilliantly colored and brightly flavored, it too, inextricably, was topped by a large, unwieldly branch of dill. It was puzzling that the chef didn't simply snip off dill strands, making the soup both more visually appealing and allowing you to actually taste the dill without a knife and fork. These kind of lapses may not be a big deal in your average restaurant, but they are inexcusable in a dining room of this caliber. On the upside, the service was very good, with the waitress quickly apologizing for the risotto, and taking it off the bill. My friends raved about their appetizers of quail and house-made pate, though rated the scallops entree as merely "good" rather than great. The desserts were delicious but spotty: a dark chocolate mousse served in a phyllo purse was excellent, while the creme brulee had a disappointing, watery consistency. It, too, was not finished by the table. Two final quibbles: cocktails priced at $14 (!) and the lack of a sommelier, or even a knowledgable server, to help navigate the interesting and varied wine list. Bottom line: this is a spectacularly situated restaurant with a noble mission. But if they want to charge these prices, they need to work out some of the kinks, and re-focus on the food. (For an example of two similar restaurants with flawless executions, I would point to Hen of the Woods and Michaels on the Hill.)

Jul 10, 2009
vjpam in All New England Archive

Vermont-looking for inn with great food

As a Vermonter and a frequent diner, I was decidedly unimpressed with the Rabbit Hill Inn. They put on great airs, but don't deliver exceptional food. The Inn at Wethersfield is a much better choice, and is very committed to local, sustainable food that is inventively prepared (the owners are nicer folks, too.)
If you're willing to travel a bit farther afield (to Quebec), there's a fantastic inn and restaurant in North Hatley. The Manoir Hovey has some of the best food I've had outside of major cities like New York and Tokyo, and the inn is lovely, romantic, and very peaceful in the winter.
Good luck!

Dec 29, 2008
vjpam in All New England Archive

Ogunquit, Maine

I can't speak for the other restaurants, but would avoid MC Perkins Cove. We were hugely disappointed when we went last summer, primarily by the very mediocre food and presentation. (We ordered the signature Shellfish Tower and found that some mussels were a bit off, and that the tuna sashimi had been cut in ragged, ugly strips. Unappetizing to say the least.) A side of steamed baby bok choy came grey and limp, drowning in a bath of broth. A fish special that I ordered (at $35 a plate), while fresh on its own, was similarly overwhelmed by a variety of sauces and flavors (avocado paste, chorizo sausage, etc.). The whole experience felt like a bad attempt at gastronomy by some junior culinary students. It's a shame, because early reports rated the food as inventive and delicious. I think you could do much better elsewhere, especially at the prices that MC Perkins charges.

Oct 28, 2008
vjpam in All New England Archive

Stowe, VT

Not sure what exactly you're looking for, but two family-friendly places that immediately spring to mind:
1) The Depot Street Malt Shop (just off the main street, downtown): a 50's-styled maltshop with all the familiar deli/maltshop faves. Great burgers, shakes, sandwiches, and very kid-friendly. Owned by a French guy (go figure.)
Hope this helps!
2) Piecasso on Mountain Rd: Good, inventive, pizza, with lots of other choices (pasta, burgers, etc.), as well as a full bar with live music. Friendly owners, helpful service, but can get crowded.

May 23, 2008
vjpam in Northern New England

Burlington, VT - 1 Night - Which Restaurant?

I love Trattoria Delia, but agree that Single Pebble is a better choice for a group. If you prefer more refined, northern Italian food, L'Amante is also excellent. It's got a more stylish, modern vibe than Trattoria Delia, and an excellent wine list.

If you're willing to go farther afield, my two absolute favorites (both in the Waterbury area) are Hen of the Wood and Michael's on the the Hill. Both have truly fabulous, inventive food, in beautiful surroundings. Both are probably my favorite restaurants in the state as well. (Waterbury is probably 20 minutes or so from Burlington.) I live in Shelburne, and would skip Cafe Shelburne. It's rather stodgy French food, and very hit-or-miss in my experience. (I actually had to send a dish back on two occasions for being too salty.)
Good luck!

May 20, 2008
vjpam in All New England Archive

breakfast in burlington, vt.

Penny Cluse can be very hit or miss, and the waits can be brutal. I love Magnolia, have never had to wait, and far prefer it for ambiance as well as food. The lime waffles are a particular favorite, as are the mex-inspired omelettes (some of them vegan.) I also enjoy patronizing a place that champions local, organic food sources.

May 19, 2008
vjpam in All New England Archive

Burlington eats with well behaved cute 18 mos old boy

All these recommendations are great. I'd add Magnolia for great breakfasts or lunch (it's just off the corner of St. Paul St. and College). It's mostly organic, locally-sourced food, served in a warm and bright basement space. I also like Pacific Rim, just next door on St. Paul, for good, fresh, and inexpensive pan-Asian food (great dumplings, noodles, curries, etc.). On Bank St., A Single Pebble has great, inventive Chinese fare, and is also kid-friendly. I'd avoid Church St,, apart from a mandatory stop at Ben and Jerry's.

On a non-food note, you may also consider taking your child to the Echo center on the waterfront. It's a kid-centered maritime museum with lots of hand-on exhibits, including waterplay, and a toddler-friendly play area. A great place to let a child run around on a chilly day!

Mar 27, 2008
vjpam in All New England Archive

Honeymoon Dinner Options in Vermont

I'll second the recommendations for Michael's on the Hill and Hen of the Woods. Both have superb food, and are two of my favorite restaurants in the state. (I live in Shelburne, VT.) However, Michael's is much more of a "special occasion" kind of place - much more romantic/elegant than Hen of the Woods, and also with warmer service (in my experience). I like Kitchen Table Bistro, but think it is out of its league with these two restaurants. I've never been disappointed by KTB, but never "wowed" either.

I'm sorry I can't help for Warren (The Pitcher Inn is probably your best bet for food) or Manchester. Manchester will be mobbed and especially "touristy" in October - - it always feels more Masachusetts than Vermont to me even at the best of times. That said, I have only heard good things about the Perfect Wife.

Mar 27, 2008
vjpam in All New England Archive

Sunday Night Anniversary Dinner for Out of Town Foodies

I need help finding a special occasion place (great food, intimate atmosphere, not too noisy) that will be open on a Sunday night in May. We are former New Yorkers who are flying in just for the day (we have broadway matinee tickets so are not flexible on dates), and have struck out trying to book many of the Chowhound favorites. We're constrained somewhat by location (we need to catch a flight out of JFK so are afraid to go too far downtown), so are looking at Chelsea, Midtown, UWS or UES. So far only Picholine seems to fit the bill. Former favorites include Le Bernardin, Sugiyama, Gramercy Tavern, and Wallse.
Any other recommendations?

Mar 14, 2008
vjpam in Manhattan