The diversity of Vermont’s restaurant scene is something to behold. It’s the kind of state where, say, a restaurant/bar/hotel that caters to mountain bikers, a center of Cuban cuisine, a brewery that also cooks up waffles stuffed with savory flavors and a small-town bistro producing small plates with flair fit into the dining scene like they’re welcomed old friends.
Those are the four types of new restaurants the Burlington Free Press profiled this summer. They cover a wide geographic range as well, from the mountain town of Waitsfield to the lakeside city of Burlington, from the busy crossroads of Morrisville to the near center of Vermont in Randolph. Read on for synopses of these four freshly opened spots, and then click on the links to learn even more about where you might just want to dine next.
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The complex known as Madbush Falls is the brainchild of Jonny Adler, who’s done some brainchild-fathering before: He and a brother, Benjy Adler, created The Skinny Pancake regional chain of crepe eateries that began with a food cart followed by the flagship restaurant near the Burlington waterfront.
Madbush Falls (a portmanteau from the two surrounding ski areas, Mad River Glen and Sugarbush Resort) is just off Vermont 100 south of Waitsfield. The restaurant/bar, which seats 58 inside and 50 outside, and the attached shop, Riders Outpost, opened Aug. 2. A dozen of the hotel’s rooms, or about half, had opened by late August.
“You can have everything set up in one experience,” Adler said. “This is sort of normal in the ski world.”
Open since Aug. 2, Santiago’s occupies a long-vacant space near the Burlington waterfront, adjacent to the recently revived Union Station/Amtrak stop. The family-recipe-powered menu at Santiago’s provides a succinct and succulent introduction to Cuban food and culture.
The sharable appetizer offerings include chicharrones (fried pork belly), red-snapper ceviche and a patria y vida sampler letting diners taste meaty Cuban specialties such as lechon (marinated roast pork), picadillo (ground beef cooked with vegetables, wine and light tomato sauce) and ropa vieja, the Cuban national dish consisting of shredded beef in tomato sauce.
“I get to share our culture with this community I’ve grown to love very, very much,” said Oscar Arencibia, the Cuban-American co-owner of Santiago’s.
Jonathan and Carol Mogor opened Soulmate Brewing on July 28. The Morrisville brewery has a dozen beers and a seltzer on tap, all crafted in-house. Varieties include an American lager called Food Lube; I’d Drink Me, an Irish red ale; a Belgian-style dubbel; a nitro oatmeal stout dubbed Two Night Stand; and a hop-heavy hazy India pale ale known as Hops in Bed with Strangers.
The Mogors have created a small menu centered on waffles with various fillings, including a Cuban waffle stuffed with pulled pork, ham, Swiss cheese and pickles; a barbecue pulled-pork variety; and one consisting of chocolate chips, all accompanied by dipping sauces. Rice bowls and chocolate-covered bacon round out the food offerings.
Randi Taylor and Lucas Battey opened their 25-seat restaurant, Short Notice, on June 10. (Another eight eaters can sit outside at sidewalk tables.) The Randolph eatery offers a casual vibe; customers order at the counter while a server – likely to be Taylor, while Battey works in the kitchen – brings their food and drink.
The menu features small plates inspired by the couple’s travels. The roster of dishes on a recent Monday included “shareables” such as a house-made pretzel, roasted-carrot “fries” and garam masala meatballs. The list of small plates ranged from glazed fennel to cured and seared pork belly to kung pao noodles and radicchio salad. Sandwiches such as blackened chicken and portobello caprese are also available. Desserts, which may include brown butter chocolate-chip cookies, are among the goods baked by Taylor.
“It’s eclectic,” Battey said of the menu, “local flavors, trying to combine enough cuisines so there’s enough for everybody.”