We know that it can be easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to feeding our families. When you are contending with picky eaters, time constraints, and sleep deprivation, meal planning and food prep can often feel overwhelming. The BVTMB team along with our sponsor, Healthy Living, is here to provide some fresh perspective and inspiration in the kitchen! From meal ideas to how to feed those picky eaters, we are excited to talk about all things food these next few weeks in our “Growing Up Gourmet, Beyond the PB&J” series.
The Anti-Kid’s Guide to Eating Out
(I really love my children, just sometimes I like to eat without them)
We used to tell my son that tofu was white steakie and shrimp was pink chickie (chicken). Then he got really smart and figured out the difference. My daughter will eat spicy chicken tikka masala but refuses to eat fruit. I have hidden veggies in meatballs, bribed my children with desserts, ignored temper tantrums at the table, and given up and fed my children chicken nuggets at dinner (at least they’re organic).
In the end, my kids are quirky eaters.
It drives me nuts, I get anxiety about it, and I have visions of them sitting in a dining hall freshman year of college only eating mozzarella sticks and fruit juice. I’m not worried about them getting the right nutrition…despite their quirkiness I always make sure all food groups are represented at every meal. I’m worried that they’re missing out on the wealth of amazing food options the world has to offer. I’m worried they will be boring eaters…that their life won’t be filled with zest, spice…dare I say…Umami (if you don’t know what that is, look it up).
This, my friends is what happens when you’re a foodie and also a parent.
So I have no palpable advice or tips to offer you on how to raise adventuresome eaters, nor do I have recipes that will make your children gobble up their meal and ask for seconds. I have found what works for us, and likely…it won’t work for you. And that’s just because every family is different…and kids are crafty.
So instead, I’d love to offer you my list of top five restaurants in Burlington VT. You could bring your children to these restaurants, but you’d have more fun without them. Without further ado…oh wait, one more thing….these restaurants are not necessarily budget friendly. Then again I don’t know what your budget is…but they’re not cheap. But they are well worth it if you like food, and are looking for a special night out. OH and one more thing (sorry!), there really is a wealth of amazing places in Burlington (and surrounding areas). This list is quite short and focuses mostly on the high end.
1. Misery Loves Company (Winooski)
Before they opened their store front in downtown Winooski they used to serve from a food truck. I have a soft spot for food trucks. Now they have evolved into quite the culinary empire with both a restaurant and bakeshop. Their food is inventive and playful, locally sourced in many cases, and the atmosphere is bustling and vibrant. My husband and I have frequented this establishment on many occasions. They don’t take reservations so in the past we’ve sat in the bar area and had a craft cocktail before being seated. The bonus about this place is that most of the plates are shared plates so if you really want to be budget friendly you can split a few small plates with your partner. And if you happen to find yourself in need of rich baked goods and “god in a cup” style coffee, their bakeshop is also located a few blocks from the restaurant. They serve Stumptown coffee and make all sorts of bake goods: lemon curd donuts, croissants, quiche and more. If you haven’t tasted Stumptown, I encourage you to try it…I liken it to tasting a really awesome glass of wine for the first time. It’s the only kind of coffee that I can drink black.
2. Hen of the Wood (Waterbury and Downtown Burlington)
My first experience at Hen was at their location in downtown Waterbury. You can imagine my excitement when I found out that they would be opening a location much closer to my house. Both restaurants are equally amazing. Although some might argue that the location in Waterbury is less of a scene. But I don’t agree. Plus I’m too busy horking down my food to even notice who is sitting at the table next to us. They take reservations and I encourage you to make them in advance if you can. Otherwise the bar has seating as well as the counter that looks directly at the chefs and the kitchen. Another local restaurant with a menu full of local products and in-season ingredients…i’m seeing a trend here. We went there last weekend and sat at the counter which faced the chefs. I got to watch the chefs shuck oysters, fire up steaks, and do that little finishing wipe the plate thing that fancy chefs do before sending out a dish. I probably spoke two words to my husband and friends the entire meal because I was too busy ogling the chefs and food.
3.) Kitchen Table Bistro (Richmond)
Ok, come on now, it’s not that far of a drive. Really. You just get on 1-89 and get off at the Richmond exit and BAM, its right there. Located in a farmhouse near the highway, my husband and I drove into downtown Richmond before realizing we were lost…and late for dinner. Regardless the food here is terrific. Again, local “Vermont fare” with a quiet atmosphere. So back to the kids…you could bring kids to the above mentioned restaurants and they would blend in more or less…assuming they are moderately well behaved. KTB is a bit more quiet and romantic in the traditional sense. I would leave the kids at home. Although we have friends who brought their newborn with them and it worked out just fine. My husband and I go to the KTB when we want excellent food in an atmosphere that feels a bit less bustling. Again, there’s nothing wrong with bustling…you just have to decide what kind of mood you’re in when you want to eat.
4.) Inn at Shelburne Farms (Shelburne)
We just went to this amazing gem two weeks ago for our wedding anniversary. Located right on Lake Champlain and in an old-timey hotel you go here for a few reasons. A) to have a drink in the adirondack chairs on the front lawn before dinner. I don’t care if you don’t drink…get a glass of water and sit in the chairs before dinner and watch the sun set over the Adirondacks. It will remind you of why you love Vermont so much. B.) you go to this place because your meal was likely frolicking in the fields behind the Inn a week ago. Virtually everything on the menu comes from the farm itself or surrounding farms. It doesn’t get more farm to table than this. If that makes you uncomfortable then frankly you shouldn’t be eating meat. As meat eaters, it is our responsibility to respect and honor the life of the animal that we’re eating by having an idea of where it came from. And now I’ll step off my soap box and go on to #5.
5.) Juniper (Burlington, located in the Hotel Vermont)
I always cringe at hotel restaurants because I worry that they aren’t really serving good food and they just lean on the hotel for business. NOT the case with Juniper. I’ve been here for appetizers, drinks, brunch, and a special farmers dinner benefiting Jack Lazor from Butterworks Farm. Impeccable casual service, fabulous setting, and delicious food. They have a bloody-mary bar set up at brunch. Seriously. Their bar seating area is filled with stunning woodwork and Pendleton pillows…and even though its summer and the last thing you want to think about is cozy flannel…you can’t help but snuggle up with a beer. Just last week they tapped a few kegs of Lawson’s just to kick off Brewfest, happening down by the waterfront. Again, you’d have more fun without the kids, but it’s a kid friendly space.
Again, as mentioned this list is in no way exhaustive of all the incredible options in Burlington and the surrounding areas. I’ve failed to include many of the global options as well, such as Single Pebble, Tiny Thai, Pho Dang, Sherpa Kitchen and again I could go on. I hope you may find a sitter on an occasion to enjoy the gourmet options outside of your own kitchen. It’s a great escape from the occasional (daily) drama at the evening dinner table.