Thursday, February 9, 2012

Skinny Pancake

The Skinny Pancake has a prime lakefront location, which we think is the best part of the restaurant. We've been twice, the second time to give it a second chance since we didn't much care for it the first time. The fact that we had to actually walk to the service counter and then pay for a coffee refill put the nail in the coffin. I doubt we'll go back. But, that aside, it is an 'offbeat' place with character and a unique menu. It is partially 'self-serve' in that you have to order and pay at a front bar. They bring the cooked item to your table.
Location: 60 Lake Street, Burlington, Vermont

Food: 31/2***The menu items are built on a crepe base. The fillings are made from many local ingredients such as Vermont cheeses, apples, smoked bacon, eggs, and veggies. The food was tasty and nicely presented. My serving was pretty small, but Dad's were generous. Real Vermont maple syrup is served, but in a little tiny cup with an inadequate amount. The menu is only on a black board hanging up high over the ordering bar. It was difficult to read. A menu to actually hold and read would be helpful.
Coffee 4****delicious, nice mugs, but small, and you had to walk to the service counter to get and pay for refills.
Ambiance A funky, off-beat place with rustic tables and funny lights. It's fun and relaxed. Too bad the windows aren't bigger to take advantage of the lake view.

Service 3***You more or less had to look out for yourself. The order was delivered to the table, but other than that, there was little contact with the service folks.
ParkingStreet parking and no evidence of handicap spaces.

ClienteleYoung professional, tourists, students
Price One of the more expensive places to get breakfast, esp. when table service is not provided.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Firebird Cafe

Firebird Cafe is a small gem of a breakfast place. It's location, while easy to get to, is kind of off the beaten path. So, both times we've been there, we've had no trouble getting a table. It is partially self serve in that you have to order at a counter and get your own coffee, but other than that, you are waited on. Its open kitchen allows you to see the food being made and allows you to interact with the cooks. It's fun and friendly, and the food is awesome.
Location 163 Pearl Street, Village of Essex Junction
FOOD 5***** Fresh, delicious, nicely presented. The menu has the basic breakfast offerings as well as southwestern themed specials like Huevos Rancheros. There is also a selection of specialty omelets. I had the Spinach & Red Onion with sauteed mushrooms, pico de gallo, monterey jack and poblano cream sauce. YUM!!
COFFEE 5***** Hot,dark, locally roasted coffee in heated mugs and endless refills.
AMBIANCE Very casual, almost rustic with a collection of mis-matched tables and chairs. An open food counter lets you see right into the kitchen. There are lots of big windows looking out over Rt. 15 so there's lots of light, but the view is of traffic. While we were there some fresh flowers in a little vase were delivered to the table.
SERVICE 5***** Probably the friendliest service around.
PARKING Convenient little parking lot right on the side of the restaurant.
MAPLR SYRUP All you can eat real Vermont Maple Syrup
CLIENTELE It seemed to be mostly young professionals. There was a small group meeting going on when we were there.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS The food rivals, or may be better than, Sneakers or the Spot, but it's smaller and less crowded. Definitely a top favorite of ours.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Penny Cluse

Penny Cluse annually wins the 'Best Place for Breakfast" in the Seven Daisy's "Best Of", which are awards based on customer votes. So, the two of use felt it very important to give this place the proper going over. While it does win high scores, it doesn't top our list of 'go to' places. It's popularity keeps it that way since the restaurant is usually full and the acoustics soo horrible, that it's hard to have a conversation.
Location: Downtown Burlington on the corner of Cherry and S. Winnoski Ave
Food:***** Delicious, well prepared and nicely presented, fresh, generous portions, extensive selection from standard fare to southwester concoctions, to nuts and berries
Coffee: 3 *** Inconsistent quality. Our first cup this morning was so weak you could see the bottom of the cup. It got better with the refills
Ambiance: 3***Pleasant and light but tables were close together and noise level was high so it was hard to have a quiet conversation.
Service: 5*****Fast and friendly
Parking: 1* Street parking and no handicap parking anywhere nearby. Today the roads were icy and sloppy with snow, so besides having to find a downtown parking spot and feed a meter we had to also deal with difficult walking conditions
Maple syrup: 5***** A full pint on the table of the real thing. Pop put at least half of it on his sourdough french toast.
Clientele: We are there at around 9 AM so we are dining with the more leisurely crowd. This morning there was a mix of middle aged ladies, mom's with little ones, and gentlemen with their casual clothes on (not looking like they were headed to the office). It had an air of the 'professional' crowd. But students are still out of town for the holiday break.
Additional comments:
The photos are a mix of those taken on a delightful day in September, and also today, January 6, 2012

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Spot

One of our very first breakfast outings was to The Spot on:
210 Shelburne Road Burlington, VT 05401
(802) 540-1778
It may actually have been while breakfasting here that Pop and I decided to make it our quest to study and critique all the breakfast spots in the greater Burlington area. Here's how The Spot sizes up:
General Description:
The Spot is a converted gas station facing busy Shelburne Road, just south of entering the greater Burlington city area. Because it's an old gas station, it's a very easy "in and out" in terms of access. They have cleverly turned the old pumping station area into an outdoor seating area and bar. Inside, it's very bright, thanks to the large windows gas stations tend to put in front of their buildings. They are 'surfer' themed so the atmosphere is keeping with that, including being a very relaxed, casual, cool look with lots of beach themed pictures and paraphernalia. This is a good thing in the midst of winter when even the toughest Vermonters sometimes need to be reminded there is a summer.
CoffeeThree stars***. The coffee is hot, served generously, and in local Bennington Potter mugs, or their own Spot labeled mugs. I am not yet sure if they are using a local roaster. We'll check on that our next visit. But it's not a 'great' cup of coffee or one we'd go out of our way for.
Parking5***** Parking is easy and close. Only once was it so busy we had to park across the way in the Duncan Donuts lot.
Ambiance4**** Surfer dude, very casual. Open air in good weather. Noisy due to high ceilings and close tables. So, not the place for a private meeting or a business breakfast.
Food4* The menu is southwestern themed, but with lots of basic options as well. The portions are generous, nicely presented, and the food is very fresh. I often go for the French Toast special with fresh fruit. Check out their menu at their web site.
Vermont Maple Syrup5***** Unlimited real Vermont Maple syrup. Homemade jam is served in a large bowl so you can really pile it on. None of those little foil capped, 1 tsp plastic containers
Service5***** Friendly and fast
PriceModerate. $6 to $9 entrees. But it's enough to allow you to skip lunch
ClienteleTends towards (young) professionals and students
Overall rating5***** This is one of our favorite, 'go-to' breakfast spots. Highly recommended

Check out the Burlington Free Press coverage