Bleu (Burlington, VT)

For our annual celebration of Carol’s birthday, we decided this year to head up to Burlington, VT for a weekend of hanging out with friends, exploring more of Burlington’s great scenery and dining options. Our usual go-to for Burlington is Asian food, since it’s the nearest metro area with a decent selection of Asian restaurants (and indeed, our previous night’s visit was to a ramen shop), but Carol was craving seafood, so we opted for a brunch at Bleu, located inside Burlington’s Courtyard by Marriott.

Hotel restaurants are always a bit unusual, primarily since they’ve got to provide food not only for the regular restaurant diners, but also most serve as the de facto choice for hotel guests and are also running the room service as well, and that means a certain amount of pleasing business travelers that just want a normal dinner (a former chef working at AMP 150, another hotel restaurant, once gave me a nice detailed rundown of why most hotel restaurants have a large selection of pedestrian items like cheeseburgers no matter how fancy the rest of their menu). But Bleu does a nice combination of providing a nice hotel bar and restaurant space while also making rather nice use of the hotel’s location across from Battery Park, with a nice view of the distant Adirondack mountains; it is a rather nice dining room.

We started off with a pair of Bloody Marys, and I was rather pleased with Bleu’s rendition. While certainly not a fancy cocktail, they did a decent job with both the regular Bloody Mary and the bacon-infused, bacon-garnished Bacon Bloody. Both had a rather nice, flavorful and spicy Bloody Mary base with rich tomato and pepper notes, and the bacon version added a nice smokiness as well. This won’t supplant some of my other favorite Bloody Marys around Vermont (like the excellent version at Worthy Kitchen), but these were particularly good for the $8 they charged.

Since Carol had been craving crab cakes, she went for the rock crab cakes breakfast, with a pair of crab cakes, two eggs, hash browns, and a Bearnaise sauce. The execution here was quite nicely done: two fresh, well-flaked and seasoned crab cakes done up with a perfect crisp and a nice tangy-but-not-overwhelming Bearnaise. The eggs were a nicely fluffy scramble, and the hash browns a nearly perfect rendition with a good crisp without being overly greasy. For a crabcake breakfast, this was a solid winner.

While Bleu is nominally a seafood restaurant, those that know me well know that my mild seafood allergies cause me to limit my seafood indulgence, and while I was rather tempted by the crabcake breakfast, I instead decided to go for the steak and eggs. Any doubts I had about ordering the steak instead of the crab, however, evaporated when the dish arrived: this was a solid, well executed steak and eggs. Starting with a smaller 6oz strip steak from VT cows, the steak itself was a perfectly cooked and tender medium rare. Add in a perfectly done mushroom ragout, two perfectly scrambled eggs, and a pile of nicely crisped and seasoned home fries, and this is one of my breakfast standouts of 2019 so far. I’d gladly come back and get this breakfast again, since it was a great combination of flavors without being too excessive or expensive.

Overall, we really enjoyed Bleu, and it will remain on our “Vermont Brunch” short list. The restaurant is pleasant with a nice view, reasonably priced, and the food very flavorful. I’d also love to come back and explore the dinner menu.

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