Last weekend, my friend Megan and I ventured North to Burlington, VT for the weekend. It was a bit of a random trip and just happened to fall on the coldest weekend of the winter so far. The cold didn’t bother us too much since we were to busy eating, drinking, shopping and visiting a spa. Oh yeah, and meeting firefighters too. Not a bad weekend.
Burlington is known for a few famous things: Ben and Jerry’s, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company, Magic Hat beer and the University of Vermont. It’s a laid back, clean, fun college town right on Lake Champlain.
The foodie in me was sure to take as many photos of my meals as possible – and I only got a few funny looks!
When we arriving late Friday night, we checked into our hotel (which happened to have a view of the lake!) before leaving again to get a bite to eat. Right up the street was the Vermont Pub & Brewery. I’d read some good reviews online so I was excited to check it out. The place was less exciting than I pictured but you can’t judge a book by its cover, right? Well maybe you can.
The food was just average but the beer was decent. I had read that the sweet potato fries were amazing but they just didn’t do it for me – especially since they were served only lukewarm (ick!). Unfortunately, my sandwich wasn’t anything to write home about either. Being the oldest craft brewery in Vermont, I expected the beer to be good and it was, albeit unique. I tend to like fruity beers so I ordered the Forbidden Fruit. It was pretty tasty but not very beer-like. While I liked the flavor, it reminded me more of raspberry iced tea than beer.
The service was just average as well. Our waitress was not very friendly and made us feel rushed. We were hungry and tired so I guess being rushed wasn’t completely a bad thing. Overall, the Vermont Pub & Brewery was just an okay experience for us. Luckily, that was our last average meal of the weekend.
On Saturday, it was 8 degrees (gasp!) when we stepped outside. While I was born and raised in New England, I’m not really a fan of winter or cold weather (what the heck was I doing in Vermont in January?). My parents warned me but Megan and I made the best of it. Surprisingly, the cold really didn’t bother us much.
After a light breakfast and a little shopping, we headed to the Magic Hat Brewery (more beer!) in South Burlington. I love love love Magic Hat #9 but hadn’t liked the other Magic Hat beers I’d tried in the past. My time at the brewery changed that. We met up with my friend Amanda and her boyfriend who live in the area to go on the brewery tour. It wasn’t much of a tour but our tour guide was energetic and we learned a little about the history of the brewery and craft beer in general. Magic Hat is currently available in 36 states and its #9 beer results in 50-60% of its revenue. See, I was listening. I knew I liked #9 for a reason!
During the tour, we were given one beer sample and after the tour, we visited the bar on site where visitors can have as many (2 ounce) samples as they want. For free! The tour was completely free too. We tasted a few beers over the next hour and chatted about Burlington and where we should eat that night. I’m always thinking about my next meal!
Magic Hat’s bar is in their company store, which was fittingly dark and designed with funky décor and florescent lights. I kind of felt like I was hanging out in Spencer Gifts for a minute! In addition to #9, I tasted (and liked!) Magic Hat’s Vinyl, Spring Odd Notion, and Single Chair brews. Magic Hat also offers these cool half gallon growlers of freshly brewed beer so I was sure to bring one home with me!
After leaving Magic Hat, we said goodbye to Amanda and Andrew and went back to Burlington. We decided to grab an afternoon snack at Luenig’s Bistro. It’s a French restaurant is located on the corner of College and Church Street in downtown Burlington. We hadn’t had lunch so we shared a cheese and fruit plate to hold us over until dinner. We enjoyed aged cheddar cheese from Grafton Village, a local cheese company and it was delicious! One of the best cheeses I’ve ever had.
After a little more shopping and a trip to a spa, we went to dinner at the American Flatbread Company. The restaurant was packed with people but we were lucky to get a seat at the bar where we were able to enjoy artisan flatbread and hand-crafted beer. The menu is simple, offering one salad and a variety of flatbread pizzas. I was lacking veggies for the day so I had a salad first then Meg and I split a pizza. We ordered one flatbread – half cheese and herb, half new Vermont sausage (nitrate-free maple and fennel sausage with sundried tomatoes, caramelized onions, mushrooms, cheeses and herbs). The pizza was fresh and full of flavor!
During dinner, I enjoyed one of their specialty beers, Farmhouse Ale – which was Belgian style and organic. Sitting at the bar was highly entertaining. The bartender was friendly and the people around us were fun as well. We talked to a couple who lived in the area, a girl from Boston who just graduated college and was looking to move out West and some local firefighters, too. They all had suggestions of where we should eat and what we should do while in town. With all the attention, I started to wonder if we looked out of place!?
Our day of food and beer didn’t stop us from enjoying a big breakfast before our departure on Sunday. I’d read about Magnolia Bistro online and our new friends mentioned it too. It was right up the street from our hotel so we stopped on our way out of town. Luckily, we were seated right away – that never happens on a Sunday morning in Boston!
Magnolia Bistro is a unique eatery that fits well into the Burlington culture. While it offers fairly traditional breakfast items, each offering has a little twist. Magnolia uses local and organic ingredients whenever possible and is a certified green restaurant. Very Burlington.
Meg and I were eyeing the fresh banana bread on the menu (I love when restaurants list appetizers for breakfast!) so we ordered that to start. The banana bread was warm and moist, served with cranberry cream cheese. Delish! For my meal, I ordered oatmeal pancakes with apples and bananas which were full of texture and also very tasty (somewhat healthy too!). Other unique offerings include lemon ricotta pancakes, banana bread French toast, and a North Carolina omelet (with bbq pulled pork and Vermont cheddar).
With our bellies full, we left Burlington on our three hour drive back home. I’m looking forward to going back in the summer time when we’re able to spend more time outside and explore a bit more. Burlington is definitely a great getaway for foodies!