Haymaker Bun Co. (Middlebury, VT)

Several times a year, we end up traveling just north of Middlebury, VT to pick up wine from Lincoln Peak Vineyard. As I mentioned a while back in our review of The Cluckin’ Cafe, that gives us a nice excuse to check out a few of the sights and restaurants in Western VT. In this case, we had seen a lot of good online reviews for a bakery in downtown Middlebury next to the river: The Haymaker Bun Co.

Haymaker has a nice little building that they originally shared with a fine dining restaurant, The Arcadian. But the Arcadian “closed indefinitely” for pandemic-related staffing reasons and concentrated on expanding their other business, Haymaker, into a more complete restaurant. The service is still counter-style like you’d expect in a bakery, and baked good remain a foundation of their menu (so they’ve got a lot of different buns on the menu, including sticky buns and cinnamon rolls), but then expanding into the world of sandwiches and even burgers showcasing their good baked items and ingredients.

Indeed, since our visit occurred after a morning of Vermont driving and the pickup of our wine, we arrived at Haymaker shortly before closing. As you might expect, the baked good selection was starting to get a bit thin, but they were more than happy to serve us up a lunch selection; Carol opting for a short-rib beef burger, and myself opting for a chicken club on sourdough.

And this is where we got really impressed. Carol’s burger, in particular, was quite the well-assembled burger. The burger itself was a nice, thick, loosely-packed but still-holding together short-rib burger cooked to a perfect medium rare inside, a great sear outside, and a really good, moist texture. Seriously, this is one of the best burger patties I’ve seen in a while, even from high-end places. Add in some really good bacon and seared mushrooms, and a tangy aioli, and this was a great burger overall. But that’s not even counting the bun; at a place called Haymaker Bun Co. you expect a good bun, and this delivered: a nice brioche roll with a good loft, a slightly crusty finish, and a texture that didn’t have the slightly oversweet flavor of a lot of brioche buns. I’d happily get some of these for my own burger making.

While I had a little bit of food envy with respect to Carol’s burger, my chicken club was no slouch, either. A nicely-grilled and seared chicken breast cooled and sliced. the same great thick-sliced bacon as Carol’s burger, and a nice aioli. Served on a very flavorful and perfectly-texture sourdough, this was a solid chicken club. Rounding out the plate was a small salad of mesclun greens (nicely dressed), and a very good house-made cole slaw. While given the opportunity to order again, I’d go for the burger, this was still a seriously good sandwich that would be a worthy lunch any day.

And overall, the staff was friendly. I hate being that guy that shows up shortly before closing, but the staff was friendly, courteous, and didn’t try to rush us out, letting us enjoy our meal. The dining room is pleasant, with a nice view of the adjacent Middlebury River, and it’s near most of downtown’s attractions. While just a breakfast and lunch place, this is definitely going to stay in our rotation for future Middlebury visits.

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