My mother and I often go out to dinner together when she’s in town. We like to try out new restaurants together, indulge in good food, taste fine wines, and after being spoiled by my father- we aren’t always easily impressed. My father is a very skilled chef (not by trade), so I was taught early on what “al dente” pasta tastes like, proper uses of spices, garlic is your friend in the kitchen, how to be creative (and always put your own touch on a recipe), how wonderful gas stoves are to cook on, good pans/knives really do make a difference, and to not overcook your meat. That being said, I do have to note my father became a vegetarian when I was in middle school and I haven’t eaten red meat since (my choice). After a number of years as a vegetarian, I do now eat poultry and fish. I want to note this because it will hinder some of my restaurant reviews, with regard to places that boast a “great burger”… I will not be reviewing said burgers.
When it comes to reviewing (or just simply going to) a restaurant it is often all about expectations. If you go into a restaurant after hearing rave reviews about some dish & it is not cooked the way you like it, you probably will be disappointed. One also needs to keep in mind that not all restaurants can be judged/reviewed on the same level. A local diner (I’m a sucker for a good diner) can’t be judged on the same level as a pricy French restaurant. Prices should match what you get (quality-wise), be open to trying new things, and it is also important to not let those reviews and recommendations swirl too much around your head (sometimes a chef can have a bad day, just like you and I). My reviews are my reviews & opinions…To each their own!
Anyhoo, today I am going to tell you a little about A Single Pebble. This restaurant is an old favorite of mine (and my family) in the Burlington, VT area. My mother and I went there last night & had a great meal, as we typically do. If you are trying to find a good place to take a vegetarian, this is the place to go. The prices vary (depending on the size of the dish) and all dishes are served to share. Be prepared to spend a bit (so many dishes to try!), but it’ll be worth it. The food is a modern flair on Chinese. Reservations (especially for large parties) are highly recommended for the weekends.
A few dish recommendations:
Specials- this may seem like an odd recommendation, but they are usually seasonal and/or very creative. I tried a mock prawn (tofu) dish last night that was excellent.
Mock Eel- no don’t worry, I’m not recommending eel to you- it is braised shittake mushrooms in a special ginger sauce. They are delicious.
Double Garlic Eggplant– one of my mom’s favorites and a must if you like eggplant.
Tangerine Peel Chicken– their version of orange chicken, only better. Crispy & good portion. The chicken can be replaced with a meat substitute, which I have not tried, but would like to.
Five Flavor Chicken– shredded chicken with a delicious sauce & tossed with vegetables. Also can be made with a meat substitute.
Dry Fried Green Beans– crispy (key when cooking green beans), flavorful and the pork flecks can be substituted.
Buddha’s Sesame Beef– my brother’s favorite & we often will order 2, so he can take one home for lunch the next day. Delicious, crispy, flavorful and highly recommended. Not actually beef- it is cooked seitan. And speaking of leftovers- don’t cook this the next day, it’ll lose the crunch- much better cold!
Soups- good, but a little on the salty side (which is not uncommon for Chinese restaurants…)
Don’t bother with their Lo Mein- the noodles are a little over-cooked for my taste & not creative enough. Their rice dishes are touch & go. I honestly haven’t had any of their rice noodle dishes, so I can’t make any recommendations on those.
Ambiance, etc– comfortable, simple, modern & Lazy Suszans in the center of every table (for sharing the dishes) . Dress is casual/nice. Good for families, dates, business dinners, and they serve lunch, too.
My one issue with this restaurant, I will have to note, is that I feel that some of the dishes are a little on the salty side. You don’t necessarily taste the salt in the food right off, but you will find yourself feeling a little bloated at the end of the meal (that could also be from eating so much yumminess, though, and no it is not MSG). Please don’t let that deter you from going here, though! They also don’t do take-out. You can make a special request for pick-up, but you need to put the order in at least an hour or so (depending on the night) beforehand.
If you want to check out their whole menu or make reservations, check out their website: http://www.asinglepebble.com/homepage.htm