Category Archives: Restaurants

Local Restaurants…the brunch edition!

(Re-post of 12/13/2010 posting)

I LOVE brunch.  I love everything about brunch: The excuse to eat the portions of practically two meals (it is breakfast and lunch combined, after-all!), that it’s typically had on the weekend (and everyone loves the weekend), eggs, home fries, fresh OJ, good coffee, and (hopefully) good conversation with friends, family or a date!  Whether it’s a greasy diner or a posh breakfast spot, brunch is almost always a good time!

(My) Top Brunch Spots in the Burlington, VT area:

Penny Cluse This is one of the top brunch spots in Burlington- there is always a long wait on the weekends (I recommend going earlier, rather than later), local products are used & known for their creative/delicious dishes.  It’s a tasty place, that’s been voted top brunch for a number of years now by  Seven Days readers, but there are plenty of others that are just as good! (169 Cherry St Burlington, VT) photo from:

Sadie Katz– This place is a cute local diner/Jewish deli and is a personal favorite.  Their fresh squeezed OJ is amazing, their sandwiches are piled high with meat and their eggs benedict has the option of veggie sausage.  Almost all the dishes are served with a latke (Jewish potato pancake) and you get a dish of yummy pickles to munch on as you wait for your food.  Simple and delicious.  (189 Bank St Burlington, VT)
UPDATE: Sadie Katz sadly served their last latke this past summer (2011)…The location is currently under contract to be purchased by a new owner.  While I’m excited to see what will go in the unique space, I’ll miss Sadie Katz and all their delicious offerings. 

picture from:

– Thankfully brunch here is cheaper than dinner.  Leunigs is a quaint, upscale French bistro that serves up a good brunch.  Options include a variety of eggs benedict, breakfast burritos, croissants and seasonal specials.  Their mimosas aren’t bad, either.  Good place to go to when want to impress a guest or for an anniversary.  (115 Church St Burlington, VT)

Skinny Pancake
 A tasty creperie good for brunch ( or lunch or dinner).  Numerous options for any and all palates.  My personal favorite is their Egg Fetastic (Shadow Cross Farm egg, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, sautéed mushrooms and feta cheese). Gluten-free and vegan batters available for their crepes upon request.  A socially responsible business & local foods used.  Good prices & casual atmosphere.    (60 Lake St Burlington, VT= waterfront & 89 Main St Montpelier, VT)

Diners: Henry’s, Arcadia & Libby’s
– I’m a sucker for diners, so I love these places.  Henry’s is a great place to get a greasy brunch after a long night out.  It is a favorite spot for locals and undergrads, so expect a wait on the weekends.  Typically the line goes quick.  Diners are typically old fashioned classics, so don’t expect anything fancy or over-the-top.  Arcadia has friendly service & a little something for everyone- including some Greek options (Henry’s does, too, since they are owned by the same Greek family) and doesn’t necessarily have the wait that Henry’s does on the weekends.  Libby’s will typically have a wait on the weekends, but worth it for their eggs and bottomless cup of coffee.  If you’re just looking for a good meal and not too concerned about your diet that morning/afternoon, hit up one of these fun spots for a taste of history.

Henry’s: 155 Bank St Burlington, VT (off Church St)

Arcadia: 1696 Williston Rd, South Burlington, VT

Libby’s: 46 Highpoint Center Colchester, VT ( right off rte 89)

The Spot
– A new(er) place that’s only been open for about a year now.  The motif inside is surf-themed (kinda cute) in a converted old gas station/garage.  Seating available outside during warm weather months & their smoothies are a must.  Eggs available in any way you want & the home fries are tasty.  Their eggs benedict special (when available) is a must- add red onions and spinach & you won’t regret it!  (210 Shelburne Rd Burlington, VT)

– A local favorite that always has a line on the weekends, but they do serve breakfast all week long.  Recently relocated into a larger spot just a few steps away, Sneakers has been in Winooski for a while & isn’t going anywhere.  While you wait for a table (can be anywhere for 10-30 minutes), you can grab a coffee/Bloody Mary/Mimosa next door at The Monkey House bar (weekends).  Sneakers serves up tasty eggs benedict, pancakes, French Toast, etc.  Outside seating available during warmer months.  (36 Main St Winooski, VT- in the roundabout)


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Fun with Fruit Friday… Avocado Mango Pear Smoothie

Avocado Mango Pear Smoothie: I have been drinking these delicious smoothies for about a year now from Patra Cafe on Center St in Burlington, VT.  Fresh, refreshing & full of nutrients**!  The smoothie is $4.75 for a 12 oz cup & highly recommended.

The cafe now also serves food, but I’ve only been there for tea and smoothies.  I got a muffin there once, about a year ago, and it wasn’t very good.  Hopefully their food has gotten better, but I’d really just recommend you go there for their yummy smoothies (other flavors than avocado pear available) or wide selection of tea offerings.  They also sell loose-leaf tea you can take home.

Food offerings: granola, oatmeal, grilled paninis & soups
Beverage offerings: tea, coffee, juice, smoothies & bubble tea! 

The ambiance is simple & comfortable.  It’s a quiet place to read, sip your tea or catch up with an old friend.  Also great for people watching… Burlington is known for its characters…Live music & open mic nights occasionally, too.


Patra Cafe
9 Center St
Burlington, VT


If you aren’t in the Burlington, VT area & want to make a Avocado Mango Pear Smoothie at home, here’s how (not the Patra Cafe recipe, but looks close):  

1/2 avocado
1 pear, chopped up
1/2 cup frozen mango, chopped up
1/2 cup water
4 ice cubes (amt may vary per how big your ice cubes are or how thick you like it…)
1 tablespoon honey (optional)

Put all the ingredients in a blender & blend until smooth.  Yum!

**”Avocados are high in fat (the good kind) and contain the fat-soluble vitamin E. Avocados are an excellent source of certain antioxidants that help slow aging and prevent certain cancers and heart disease. They are high in folate which also helps protect your heart and guard against stroke. Studies have shown that avocados can lower cholesterol, guard against eye disease, help fight oral cancer, prevent breast cancer and has been shown to inhibit prostate cancer.” (Russell, Tracy: Incredible Smoothies)

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Local Restaurant Review…On the Rise Bakery

Before my boyfriend and I went maple sugarhousing last weekend, we started off our morning with a yummy breakfast at On the Rise Bakery in Richmond, VT.  We both had been to the bakery before, but not with each other or for breakfast.  If you’re in the area, it’s a great place to grab a snack or a good meal.

A bit about On the Rise Bakery…

Baked goods made from scratch (including many gluten-free items), using locally produced goods wherever possible and they have their own garden out front that they grow a lot of their own goods for the items they make!  They also have beer on tap and live music 4 days a week.  Most, if not all, of the items on the menu are veggie-friendly.

Location: 39 Esplanade Richmond, VT

Open: Mon 6am-12pm, Tues-Sat 6am-10pm, Sun 6am-3pm

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner served.

My review:

My boyfriend and I went there for breakfast, but we juuuust missed the breakfast hours.  Thankfully they still had some pre-made breakfast items out.  We decided on what looked like a mixture between a breakfast lasagna and breakfast pizza:

What it tasted like was inside: eggs, cheddar cheese, ground sautéed tofu with herbs, home fries and layers of pizza dough between each.  I typically am not a huge fan of fennel seeds, but inside of this crazy concoction it was delicious.  No salt or pepper needed, but it did need some (organic) ketchup.

Last time I went to On the Rise was over the summer & I had a really yummy veggie burger made from scratch, with some local greens on the side.  After listening to some live music, my friend and I went on a walk on the trails in the park next to the building- they are in a great location.  The park has a swing set and a couple picnic tables if you choose to sit outside instead of in during the warmer months.

Note that this isn’t a sit-down and be served kind of place- you order at the counter & clear your own dishes.  The staff is quirky mixture of all walks of life, some a little more friendly than others.  The baked goods are delicious & the coffee is fresh.  Prices are reasonable and worth it.

Path along the water beside On the Rise Bakery

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Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas <3

I apologize for my lack of posting lately, I had been working on a big project at work…thankfully it is wrapping up & I’ll have (a little) more time to post during my lunch breaks.  Thank you to those who have kept checking in!  I will try my best to entertain you!

This past weekend my boyfriend and I went to New York City for a little pre-Valentine’s Day vacation.  We had a good time & I’ll post about our trip later this week.  Today I want to post a few Valentine’s Day gift ideas for those of you who are scrambling to figure out what to get your honey (or friends)!  Valentine’s Day is a commercialized holiday (in my opinion), but I guess some people do need to be nudged to make sure that the special person in their life knows that they are special…

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas:

Ben & Jerry’s ice cream heart cake – order one from your local scoop shop for you & your special someone to enjoy!  Yum!  I’d suggest you don’t wait until Monday (Valentine’s Day)…order ahead & you can choose your favorite flavors!  Print the coupon (above) and get $3 off!

Geek Love– check out all the options on  Anything from plush microbes, quirky magnets, to funny t-shirts.

A night out– check out sweet daily deals on Vermontopia, Open Table and for coupons to local places for as much as 50% off a meal at a nice restaurant!  Right now Veromontopia is advertising $50 worth of tickets and concession food/drink for $25 at Essex Cinemas (good for 6 mos)!

A yummy basket from Cheese Traders– call ahead- tell them your price range & what you’d like in the basket!  They put together a lovely basket arrangement of tasty cheeses, crackers and a nice bottle of wine for you and your honey to enjoy! Cheese Traders:
(802) 863-0143  @ 1186 Williston Rd South Burlington, VT

A Vermont Teddy Bear– I can’t believe I almost forgot to put this in my post!  The bears are handmade in Vermont and they have the cutest little teddy bears to choose from- pick one that’s Valentine’s Day themed or especially suits your sweetheart!  Prices vary.

Chocolates from Lake Champlain Chocolates– chocolates are almost always a safe bet.  Go to the store & put together your own box of truffles or buy a pre-made box of chocolaty goodness!  If you don’t do anything else for your sweetheart, at least get them some chocolates.  Even if they “don’t believe in Valentine’s Day” or say “oh you don’t need to get me anything”  they’ll appreciate the gesture!

Photo by Jim Proctor

If you don’t have a lot of $ to spend on your sweetheart, here are some inexpensive ideas I’ve come across:

  • Create a photo album or frame of your favorite moments/times together- get the photos printed at PhotoGarden or Kinkos!
  • Pack a thermos of hot cocoa & go for a walk/hike/snowshoeing/xc skiing together!  The woods are beautiful right now with the fresh blanket of snow!
  • A book of IOU coupons for things like a massage, a date night, a meal cooked by you, cleaning, etc!
  • If it’s a nice night, drive somewhere and watch the sunset together.
  • A note or poem- give Hallmark the holiday off and tell that special person just how special they are to you with a card or funny/nice poem in YOUR own words…

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Restaurant Review…Duino! (Duende) at Radio Bean

As any good foodie knows, it’s never good to go to a restaurant when it first opens.  While it’s fun to try somewhere new, they are still working out their kinks and finding their niche.  I waited patiently for a few months to go to Duino! Duende & then grabbed a friend to come try it out with me.  We were not disappointed.  I have now eaten at the little restaurant attached to Radio Bean more than a handful of times (they just celebrated their first anniversary) & have tried something different almost every time.  Impressively, there is only one dish on the menu (that I’ve tried) that I would not recommend – otherwise, everything has been delicious!

The atmosphere of Duino! Duende is very intimate & almost feels as though you are walking into a bar in the Village, yet you are in Burlington, VT! The restaurant is small (can’t really accommodate groups large than 4 & not really a great place to bring kids, but certainly can), the setting has a very Bohemian feel and Radio Bean (bar/coffee/tea room) is right next door, so you always have live music.  The (tap) water is served in old wine bottles, none of the plates match, a plastic goose night light sits in the corner and the tin ceiling is painted gold.  This is a great place to go for a romantic date, catching up with an old friend or take someone who has dietary restrictions.  Duino! Duende has a wide range of options for folks who are gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or who enjoy creative dishes.

Pros: caters to dietary restrictions, intimate (candle-lit tables), funky atmosphere, good wine, creative dishes, reasonably priced, seasonal options & local products used.  Seating available outside during warm weather months.  They are now serving lunch daily & Ethiopian food on Tuesday nights!

Cons: the live music next door can sometimes be a little too loud (check who is playing at Radio Bean before you go!), they sometimes run out of items (not uncommon for small restaurants who buy fresh), some have said that some of the staff can be unfriendly- I guess it depends on who you get/how late in the evening/how many requests you make… I’ve never really had a problem.

Menu Highlights:

Duende SaladeCreatively topped with crispy parsnip chips and a light vinaigrette.

Simple & delicious.

Frietjes- if you come for drinks & just looking for a snack, get these!  They are a mixture of russet potatoes and sweet potatoes cut thin & served with lime tulsi aioli and banana catsup.


La Poutine- frietjes topped with cheese current and local brown gravy.

I have not tried this dish yet, but since I love their frietjes and sauces, I’m sure it’s delicious.  A local favorite.

Tostones twice-friend plantains served with mojo aioli and curtido.

I’m not a huge fan of plantains (I find them very bland), so I didn’t really get jazzed about this dish, but if you like plantains, you’ll enjoy this!

Crepe de Poulet-local chicken, portabella mushrooms, roasted carrots, arugula and a brie mornay sauce.

Probably my favorite item on the menu (aside from the Frietjes).  Just the right mixture of sauce, chicken & veggies!

Majadra (Levantine)- French lentils and sauteed grains, with a fried onion and tarator sauce topping.

My friend had this & said it was delicious!

Old World Burro– essentially a burrito- filled with black beans, sour cream, salsa, avocado & queso blaco.

Very good.  Add chicken for additional protein.

Delicious desserts, too!

All photos from Duino! Duende’s Facebook page.  For more information on the restaurant, events or to view their menu, check out their website:

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Things to do….. festivals (and hike) updates!

Well, I am rather proud to say that I WAS able to do it all last weekend, and then some!


Hike I’d really recommend:  Molly Stark Balcony in Mad River Glen, part of the Long Trail.  The hike is 2.6 miles (round-trip) & a really pretty hike.  The terrain isn’t easy (lots of ups/downs & some climbing up rocks), but is just challenging enough.  Make sure to have good hiking shoes/boots that are able to grip rocks and bring lots of water.  The hike is only a couple hours & highly recommended.

With the fall foliage, this hike was gorgeous!  Check out the view from one of the look-outs:


Siptemberfest @ Mad River Glen:

This festival was fun, but it would have been a lot more fun had we not just missed the single chair up to the top of Mad River Glen to get a glimpse of the foliage (thankfully we got our fix hiking) and had they not sold out of beer tasting tickets….Next year!!The festival was still fun & you were still able to hang out in/outside the Mad River Glen lodge.  Beer was still available for sale & there was food, too.  They sold pulled pork (which I hear was tasty, though the bun was a big soggy) and veggie burgers in a pita pocket with tahini sauce.  The veggie burger was awesome!  My friends and I still had fun running into people we knew, listening to the band play, and noshing on the food.  

Finally…..Stowe Oktoberfest

My friends and I were really excited about this festival, but we were unfortunately rather disappointed…

Disappointment #1: we got lost.  We had a vague idea of where the venue was, but the signage was quite poor.  There was one sandwich board in downtown Stowe advertising the festival & a green Oktoberfest parking sign.  We missed them both, due to traffic & people walking on the sidewalks in front of them.  A banner or big sign would have been helpful.

Disappointment #2: we were practically the youngest ones there.  We went into the arena and while we understood that it was the second day of the festival, it was nothing like we imagined.  There were very few vendors, we had to pay to get in & didn’t get anything for it (i.e. beer ticket, etc) and then had to pay quite a lot for the beer tasting, food, etc.  There were long tables set up, covering most of the space, so it was clear that the Oktoberfest was mainly about eating & listening to the band…We had a little more in mind.

One good thing about Oktoberfest: the band.  We only stayed for a short time, but the band sounded great!

Thankfully, Stowe has a lot more to offer than just their Oktoberfest!  My friends and I had a great time at the Stowe Farmer’s Market:

After the Farmer’s Market, we hit up a restaurant- The Whip Tavern for lunch/dinner at The Green Mountain Inn.  All three of the courses we chose were delicious (especially their pumpkin soup)!  The restaurant was priced reasonably, the service was friendly, the booths were comfortable & the ambiance was warm.

Notes for next year:

-Get Mad River Glen Siptemberfest tickets before they sell out

-Don’t bother with the Stowe Oktoberfest, but definitely go to the Stowe Farmer’s Market and maybe the Oktoberfest parade.

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Restaurant Reviews: A Single Pebble

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:

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