Dining Out

These short reviews of some of our favorite restaurants and watering holes will help you find a starting place on your quest for Vermont’s finest.

Burlington Bagel Bakery 992 Shelburne Road, South Burlington. Customers have been sinking their teeth into Vermont's original fresh, delicious, full-scratch bagels since 1979. The bakery offers nearly 20 bagel varieties, including seasonal specialties, even more fillings and a huge selection of gourmet and organic coffees, espresso and smoothies. Fast and healthy lunch specialties include wraps, bagel sandwiches, soups and salads. Breakfast is served all day long. Favorite items are the Vermontster with sliced ham, apple and cheddar for $4.50, and the vegetarian marinated portobello melt with feta cheese, sundried tomato spread and provolone for $4.75. Open Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. 864-0236.

Chef's Corner 2121 Essex Road, Suite 7, Taft Corners, Williston. Chef's Corner is owned by Chefs Rene Ball and Jozef Harrewyn. This bright, airy café has a menu of distinctive breakfast and lunch selections. For breakfast with a flair, try eggs Benedict, waffles or pancakes. All batters are made from scratch. Heart-healthy breakfasts include homemade granola, fresh fruit and yogurt. Luncheon sandwiches are served on in-house fresh-baked breads. Daily specials include fish of the day, paninis, Nicoise salad and a wide variety of deli salads. The blackened chicken panini with garlic mayonnaise is a favorite. The bakery's breads, pastries and incredible cakes are specialty treats that are available daily and on special order. Chef's Corner offers catering, including custom wedding and special-event cakes. Open Monday 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Tuesday through Friday 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. 878-5524.

Chow!Bella Café & Wine Bar 24 N. Main St., St. Albans. Chow!Bella and its partner, Encore!, are adjoining spaces combined in a charming, Old World style. Diners enjoy exciting, upscale dining in the spacious, elegant, newly renovated dining rooms. Booths provide privacy and comfort. Sample microbrews are on tap at the inviting Italian granite bar. A charming brick room in the back provides private space for business meetings, conferences or just plain fun. Live music many evenings has become a real draw. There is ample space for dancing. Open Monday and Tuesday 5 to 9 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. www.chowbella.us. 524-1405.

Denny's 730 Shelburne Road, South Burlington. Denny's restaurants offer a casual dining atmosphere and moderately priced meals served 24 hours a day. Denny's is well known for its breakfasts served around the clock, including the popular Original Grand Slam. The restaurant's menu also features a variety of appetizers, hamburgers, sandwiches, salads, chicken, steak and seafood entrées, and desserts. Specialty menus for health-conscious guests feature low-carb and low-fat offerings. The chain also offers customers age 55 and over selections at special prices, and children 10 and under a specially priced menu. 863-4000.

Junior's Italian 6 Roosevelt Highway, Colchester, left from Exit 16 off I-89 North. Called "Vermont's Little Italy," Junior's Upstairs offers a variety of baked pasta specialties. Pasta choices include Linguine, Penne, Fettucine, Cappellini, Ravioli and Tortellini. Junior's chicken, veal and seafood entrées are made to order with the freshest ingredients available. Downstairs at "The Bakery," customers will find delicious Italian pastries, cakes, cookies and Italian breads. Junior's Long Island recipe pizza favorites include: Florentine with spinach, bacon and mushrooms; Brooklyn with sausage or bacon, potatoes, onions and no sauce; and Greek with spinach, feta cheese, tomatoes and black olives. Besides pizza, Junior's menu lists a full selection of pastas with a choice of 19 sauces. Another specialty is veal Marsala with mushrooms and demi-glace. On- or off-site catering available. Open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight. 655-5555.

Leonardo's Pizza 83 Pearl St., Burlington; 1160 Williston Road, South Burlington. A hometown favorite, Leonardo's pizza was voted "Best Pizza 2001-2002" in a local survey. Diners can take it out or have it delivered to their homes or businesses. The creative offerings come with an array of toppings with a particularly wide selection of vegetarian favorites and a choice of tasty white or whole-wheat crust. The Leonardo's works or vegetarian works are two popular choices. Leonardo's offers free delivery and corporate charge accounts. Open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m to midnight; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. 862-7700.

Leunig's Bistro 115 Church St., on the Marketplace, Burlington. Those who experience Leunig's believe its motto: "The spirit of an Old World café in the heart of downtown Burlington." Charming decor, tasty and creative food and a well-appointed bar. At the corner of Church and College streets, Leunig's offers a prime spot for downtown people-watching (or for being seen). Brunch is served starting at 9 on weekends. Favorite Saturday or Sunday breakfasts start with Leunig's special-blend coffee and fresh orange juice. Open for lunch, dinner and brunch, Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. 863-3759.

Mexicali Tucked away in the Taft Corners Shopping Center, Mexicali Authentic Mexican Grill is a popular spot for lovers of the true tangy flavor of Mexican favorites. Inexpensive and casual, its menu covers the basics, with interesting variations of burritos, enchiladas, fajitas, taquitos, tamales, nachos and quesadillas. Diners' favorites include Baja deluxe burrito with beans, rice, guacamole, tomato, onions and cilantro; or veggie deluxe with black beans, tomato, onion, cilantro, broccoli, mushrooms, bell peppers, guacamole and salsa. Portobello fajitas are another favorite. Dinners from $6.50. The Cantina makes fantastic Margaritas. Open Monday and Tuesday 11 a.m to 9 p.m.; Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday noon to 8 p.m. 879-9492.

Orchid - 5 Market St., South Burlington. This Chinese restaurant with more than 20 years' experience in the business won the Burlington Free Press Readers' Choice Awards five years in a row. The giant buffett features more than 100 quality items; banquet facilities accommondate up to 340 people. Appetizers through desserts are available. Customers' favorites include savory crispy boneless duck, lemon chicken, seafood pan-fried noodles or one of 42 combination platters. 658-3626. East Orchid - This sister restaurant on Vt. 2A at Taft Corners in Williston, serves the same menu as Orchid in more casual surroundings. The banquet facilities can accomodate up to 180 people. 878-1288. Both restaurants serve lunch, early bird and dinner buffets Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Rusty Scuffer - 148 Church St., Burlington. Church Street's oldest restaurant, the Scuffer has been owner-operated for more than 32 years. The extensive menu includes burgers, sandwiches, steaks, chicken, seafood and more. Lobsters are a specialty each day. Lunch specials start at $3.95; dinner specials from $8.95. Patrons enjoy the casual comfort of this downtown tradition, located on the Marketplace, across the street from Burlington City Hall. Open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. 864-9451.

Starry Night Café 5371 U.S. Route 7, North Ferrisburgh. Midway between Middlebury and Burlington in a renovated cider press building sits this fine dining restaurant. Chef David Hugo prepares creative American cuisine using traditional techniques with a focus on freshness and simplicity incorporating local, seasonal and organic produce whenever possible. Appetizers range from fresh Maine crab to steak tartare. A favorite entrée is grilled lamb chops with tequila, lime and chipotle butter, grilled choyote squash, cheddar grits and spinach. Prices start at $5.50 for appetizers and $15 for entrées. All desserts are $6.50 and include crème brûlée with ginger shortbread. Reservations recommended. Open Wednesday through Sunday 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. 877 6316. www.starrynightcafe.com.

Toscano Café/Bistro 27 Bridge St., Richmond. Opened by Chef Jon Fath, a 1995 graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, and his wife, Lucie Bolduc-Fath, this cozy little bistro offers Old World charm in downtown Richmond, just 20 minutes from Burlington. Fresh flowers on the table and soft candlelight create a romantic ambiance. The service is attentive and friendly, adding to the casual atmosphere. The menu features rustic Mediterranean cuisine with fresh seafood and veal, fine Italian wines and Vermont microbrews. Appetizers include crab cakes with saffron aioli and Prince Edward Island mussels with white wine, plum tomatoes and basil. Entrées include: wild mushroom ravioli with Gorgonzola sauce; grilled salmon with citrus buerre blanc; and beef tenderloin with peppercorn demi-glace. Soups and desserts, including crème brûlée and cappuccino chocolate mousse, are all made in-house. Open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; dinner Tuesday through Sunday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; brunch Sundays 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 434-3148

Originally published in February 2005 Business People-Vermont