Cornerstone Burger Co. (Northfield, VT)

Way back when we moved to Northern New England, the town of Northfield was one of those little Vermont towns that was easy to miss; the routing of Interstate 89 somewhat bypasses it, and at the time it didn’t have much other than Norwich University and the Cabot Hosiery Mill (now “Darn Tough”) annual sock sale that would draw people into town. Well, a lot has happened in Northfield; it’s still a “quaint New England college town”, but it’s started to become a good local center for food, beer, and coffee. Downtown Northfield has had some fits and starts, but several developments on East St now have lead to a trio of businesses all in a row: Carrier Coffee Roasting, Good Measure Brewing (shared owners with Carrier, and during most operating hours, sharing the seating area), and Cornerstone Burger Co (an offshoot of the larger Cornerstone Pub and Kitchen in nearby Barre, another perennial entry on my “hit list”). After a recent visit in which we stocked up on Guatemalan coffee beans at Carrier and then had a nice pint of cream ale at Good Measure, we decided to finally stop in and try Cornerstone.

Cornerstone is primarily a “burger bar”, with a good chunk of seating being bar seating, the rest being a bunch of high-top communal tables. It’s a pretty inviting space, especially during a cold and damp Vermont winter day (for which our visit was a good example). On the bar side of things, they’ve got a pretty good beer list; indeed, Vermont has gotten to the point where I’ve started to seriously worry about a place that doesn’t at least have at least Switchback on tap, and hopefully something from Fiddlehead or Lawson’s at least. Cornerstone doesn’t disappoint, and also nicely leverages the fact that they’ve got Good Measure Brewing next door.

Menu-wise, it’s basically “burgers and sides”, but they do have a nice selection. We started with an appetizer of deep fried pickles, which were a bit of a surprise. Having long enjoyed a good fried pickle, I’m always careful to ask whether the pickles are slices (which capture the breading well), or spears (which don’t, I usually end up with a lot of pickle, little breading, and a sad limp pickle that slides out of the breading upon first nibble). Well, these were “slices”, but not like I’ve seen before: first of all, the underlying pickle was huge, and the slices thick, so most of these pickle slices were almost donut-sized by the time they got breaded. But you know what? It worked. Each was a delicious, dill-laden pickle bomb with a nice breading and a nice sriracha aioli on the side, making for a nice flavor experience. I’ll be honest, I prefer traditional dill chips to these, but I also wouldn’t hesitate to order these again.

For our burgers, we both opted for the same thing: their Smokehouse Burger: A basic burger with smoked bacon, onion rings, BBQ sauce, and VT cheddar, or in other words, your basic BBQ bacon cheeseburger. But all the parts worked here: my “medium rare” burger was indeed medium rare, the bun nicely toasted so that it maintains texture as you eat, the cheese melted and not overpowering things (sometimes a problem with VT cheddar), and the sauce not overly applied. An enjoyable burger, with some good fries on the side, and I’ll have to say we were both satisfied.

While it’s probably not my favorite burger in the region (there’s some stiff competition, with Worthy down one direction and several good Montpelier options in the other), but I’ll have to say that Cornerstone is a nice addition to the Northfield downtown, being part of a rather nice selection of businesses (Carrier, Good Measure, and Cornerstone in that stretch, a nice bakery around the corner, and a good deli down the street). Definitely worth my exploring a bit more as we drive through central VT.

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