Last week, Dave and I drove up to Montreal for a few days. At five and a half hours from Boston, you can make the drive in a day and also stop somewhere en route. Luckily for me, the route from Boston to Montreal goes right through Burlington, VT, a place I have wanted to visit for a few years now. In preparation, I researched the possible lunch options, of which there were several. The list included Mirabelle’s, Magnolia, Stone Soup, and Penny Cluse. We decided on Penny Cluse Cafe for our first stop. We didn’t get there until 2pm but there was still a half hour wait for a table. The staff were friendly right from the beginning and did their best to seat us as soon as they could. The hostess was also extremely helpful in answering my questions while we waited. A half hour wait means time for me to consider no fewer than eight different options.
Dave, as per usual, made his selection immediately: sourdough french toast with scrambled eggs and bacon. The bacon was cooked perfectly, not too crispy and not too soft, just right.
As for me, never wanting entirely sweet or savory, I decided to get a little of both. One of the specials of the day was a local tomato and green bean salad with red onion and a buttermilk basil dressing. The peppery buttermilk complemented the acid of the tomatoes nicely. I would have preferred a higher green bean to tomato ratio, but the tomatoes were intended to be center stage. My only other qualm was that because of the dressing’s consistency, it did not adhere to the tomatoes well and most of it ended up on the plate.
Another special of the day was, get ready for this, zucchini bread french toast with honey ricotta. Oh my god. The hostess told me I could order one slice instead of the full plate, which was perfect for my sweet/savory plan. Kudos to whoever can eat an entire plate of this (which I am assuming is three slices). Imagine a hefty slice of really good zucchini bread. Dip it in egg and fry it. And then top that with ricotta mixed with honey and orange zest. It was phenomenal. The bread was tender and intensely flavorful. The ricotta was sweet and rich and it complimented the warm, spicy bread beautifully. I could eat an entire bowl of just the ricotta. The bread and ricotta were delicious as is, but if I have a jug of Vermont maple syrup sitting in front of me, I can’t not take advantage of it. So my toast benefitted from some maple as well.
After an immensely satisfying lunch, we took a walk down Church Street, Burlington’s main pedestrian thoroughfare, packed with stores, restaurants, and live musicians.
We stopped into Lake Champlain Chocolates and ogled their truffles, fudge, and ice cream.
Before long, we were back on the road, making our way towards the border.
Penny Cluse Cafe
169 Cherry St