Archive | Vermont RSS feed for this section

Oakes & Evelyn Health Check (Montpelier, VT)

As our regular readers know, here at Offbeat Eats, every once in a while we do a “health check”, revisiting one of our favorite spots and see how things are doing. We first visited Oakes & Evelyn in Montpelier back in May 2021 when they were a brand-new restaurant and the dining scene was still re-emerging from it’s long Covid-19 slumber. As you can read in that review, we were really impressed by that visit, and vowed to return for future trips. So in 2022 when we were looking for a place to celebrate our anniversary, we ended up choosing a revisit to Oakes & Evelyn, and even returned in December to celebrate my birthday (both of these visits had pretty similar Fall menus, so this review will cover both visits).

Continue Reading ...

Taco Cat Cantina (Randolph, VT)

If there’s been one noticeable change in the culinary scene around Northern New England, it’s the recent appearance of more than a few decent taco joints sprinkled around the area, like Lalo’s Taqueria in Lebanon, Carlita’s Cocina in Royalton (currently moving into a permanent storefront), Trailbreak in White River Junction, and the occasional food truck serving up some good tacos. One place that’s been on my radar for a bit is Taco Cat Cantina in Randolph, and a slight detour on our return from Lake George allowed us to finally check them out.

Continue Reading ...

Johnny Boys Pancake House (Rutland, VT)

This summer we also had annual trip over to Lake George, NY for the Ohana Luau By The Lake (“The Best Little Event in Tiki”), which had us doing another nice morning drive across Vermont. We were craving breakfast, and pancakes in particular, and I realized an interesting change in Vermont over the last 20 years or so: Despite the very active, well-published, and well-earned reputation of “Vermont Maple”, Vermont doesn’t actually have a lot of pancake houses any more. When we moved to Northern New England, there were a lot of places in Vermont, but the ranks have thinned. Don’t get me wrong, there are a good number of decent pancake houses still sprinkled around Vermont, including Sugar and Spice in Mendon, VT, but even more that have closed (like Eaton’s Sugarhouse in Royalton, Blanche and Bill’s in Bridgewater), and a few more that are closing down (like Penny Cluse). This is one place where New Hampshire seems to be holding on a bit better (with Polly’s up north, Parker’s and Stuart and Johns down south being the most notable. But one Vermont place that I knew was still in business that I hadn’t yet checked out was Johnny Boys Pancake House in Rutland, VT. While it too has seen some downsizing (their original location was in Killington, their second location in Rutland is the one remaining), our trip through VT to Lake George was the perfect opportunity to stop by and finally check out Johnny Boys.

Continue Reading ...

BlackRock Steakhouse (Springfield, VT)

At one point last summer, my friend Geoff declared “I’m craving a good steak”. Well, aside from Jesse’s Steakhouse in Hanover, NH, the general Upper Valley region doesn’t have a lot of steakhouses. But in the interest of getting out and about, and trying a few other places, this drew our attention to the other major “Steak House” in the Upper Valley: BlackRock Steakhouse in Springfield, VT.

Continue Reading ...

Carlita’s Cocina (South Royalton, VT)

(Moved) Prior to the pandemic, one of my more regular spots to visit in Vermont was South Royalton. It has several great places we like, including First Branch Coffee/Upper Pass Beer and Worthy Burger, but between reduced operating hours and fewer social gatherings, we hadn’t made it over that was as often. Early in the pandemic, we had noted the opening of Carlita’s Cocina, a primarily Mexican-themed food truck, operating in the large parking lot opposite Vermont Law School. When I had to reschedule one of my periodic Red Cross blood donations to the Sharon Academy, that gave me a good excuse to go on a short hike up to Kent’s Ledge, and then meet up with my friends Rick and Sarah to finally try out Carlita’s.

Continue Reading ...

The Cluckin’ Cafe (Pittsford, VT)

During the pandemic, one of the things we started doing, due to spending a lot more time making dinner at home, was investing in a wine membership from one of our favorite Vermont wineries: Lincoln Peak. But they are located outside of Middlebury, and as the old New England saying goes “ya can’t get there from here,” at least not without a lot of driving down back roads. So even in the peak of pandemic shutdowns, we’d relatively frequently drive across mid-Vermont to pick up from their winery in New Haven, VT, which took us through several towns we don’t normally visit, like Rutland, Pittsford, and Brandon, VT. Throughout these drives, we’d often drive by a place that opened in 2020: The Cluckin’ Cafe in Pittsford, VT, and early this year, we were finally passing by when they were open, so we stopped and checked it out.

Continue Reading ...

The Fairlee Diner (Fairlee, VT)

(Closed) Every once in a while, I’ll revisit a favorite place around the Upper Valley and realize that I’ve never actually reviewed it here. Indeed, since moving to the Upper Valley in 2001, I think I’ve been to the Fairlee Diner at least two dozen times, and I was prepared to do one of my “health check” reviews where I check in on an old favorite that I’ve review before, only to find that I’ve not reviewed it (actually, looking at notes, that’s not completely true: I did review the Fairlee Diner for one of my Diner Day reviews for the long-defunct UVScene website… anyone remember that?). But it’s time to remedy that.

Continue Reading ...

Bent Hill (Braintree, VT)

One of the bigger pieces of news I had gotten on the local dining scene last summer was that Bent Hill Brewery was now serving food. I’ve always liked that brewery, and was actually a bit surprised by the announcement: the last time I had visited Bent Hill in person (in 2014), they had recently expanded to all of approximately 24′ square. Well, apparently they’ve kept expanding; I regularly encounter their beer all over Vermont, and now they’ve got not only a larger brewery, but a full tap room that this summer started serving food. All summer it was on our hit list, and finally, in early September, we were able to meet up with our friends Rick and Sarah for a nice dinner as we enjoyed the fall foliage.

Continue Reading ...

Bellomo’s Market (Rutland, VT)

Every once in a while I have various food cravings for regional specialties that are challenging to find in Northern New England. In this case, every once in a while I’m graving a good, mid-Atlantic style Italian sub sandwich (aka a “Hoagie”). They are a pretty rare bird around here (no, Subway does not count!). Yeah, a lot of places will make you a “sub sandwich”, but all too often the resulting sandwich, even if tasty, will lack some of the quintessential aspects of a good hoagie: a flavorful mix of ham, salami, and Capocollo, proper provolone cheese, and, very, very importantly, a good crusty Italian-style sub roll. But among my circle of friends there’s a New Jersey transplant, Joe, and he made a specific recommendation to me if passing through Rutland: Bellomo’s Market.

Continue Reading ...

Jones Donuts & Bakery (Rutland, VT)

Every year (at least the non-Pandemic ones), we attend (and help run) Ohana: The Luau at the Lake, an annual gathering of Tiki and cocktail enthusiasts at the Tiki Resort in Lake George, NY. Preparing for Ohana involves several driving trips to Lake George, and that route generally takes us right through downtown Rutland, VT as we cross that state. This has given us more than a few opportunities to explore some of Rutland’s offerings. In this case, we were craving donuts. I know, New England is the land of Dunkin’, but let’s be honest, you can always do better than Dunkin’ by finding a good, local donut shop. In this case, our route through town took us right by Jones Donuts.

Continue Reading ...