Restaurant Week sets Southern Vermont flavor

MANCHESTER -- You don't need to go to New York or New Orleans in search of haute cuisine -- or comfort food. It's right around the corner or a short drive up Route 7.

Next week, from April 25 through May 4, restaurants from Arlington to Pawlet will take part in "Restaurant Week," southern Vermont or "SoVT" style.

The restaurants joining in the event will offer reduced-price menus for lunch and dinner, or one or the other. Beth Whitaker and Michel Boyer, owners of Brasserie L'Oustau of Manchester, brought the experience of Restaurant Week with them when they opened their restaurant here in 2012 after years of running dining establishments in New York, where a Restaurant Week has been around since 1992, she said.

Manchester's Restaurant Week coincides and has a loose association with Vermont Restaurant Week, which is organized by the Vermont Department of Tourism and Seven Days, an independent weekly newspaper based in Burlington, she said.

"We were approached by a couple of people in town who said they wanted to become involved," she said. "Restauranteurs are starting to understand what it's all about and the benefits of it."

What it's about is potential exposure to new customers during a week between the winter and summer seasons, a time often on the slow side. Whitaker, who serves as coordinator of the event in southern Vermont, liked the idea of drawing in regular customers and finding new regulars.

"The goal is to have the restaurants create a special promotional menu that provides the choices," she said.

Choices will range from ground sirloin of beef, almond-encrusted, free-range chicken breast, pan-seared salmon or chickpea cakes at the West Mountain Inn in Arlington to roast turkey croquettes, roasted fillets of Scottish salmon or buttermilk fried chicken at the Dorset Inn in Dorset.

Each restaurant has planned new choices and discounts.

At Brasserie L'Ousteau, for example, Whitaker and Boyer are offering a three-course brunch of frissee aux lardons, grilled King Salmon or Cotes de Provence Omelette for $20.14. Normally, any of those would set a customer back more than $30, but not during Restaurant Week, she said.

A short distance away, Bistro Henry, a long established restaurant, serves a predominantly French-Italian cuisine along with an award-winning wine list. They mix offerings with humor, a reflection of chef and owner Henry Bronson's out-going personality. "Flamboyant" might be another way of putting it.

"We like to pull out all the stops a little bit for restaurant week," he said. "I figure we want to shine with this."

They will post their special menu on the Restaurant Week's Facebook page, and a hint may come from the slight change of emphasis Bronson will bring to his regular dinner menu.

Sensing a shortage of reasonably priced "family dining" options in and around Manchester, he is planning to boost his steak and seafood offerings, as well as adding a craft beer selection, he said.

"I've been doing French, Italian, focused on fine dining stuff for 20 years," he said. "I wanted to have a restaurant where I'd like to go on a day off."

On Main Street, the historic Ye Olde Tavern -- an inn, tavern and eating place since 1790 -- will also serve some specials for Restaurant Week, said owner Michael Brandt.

"We're just doing variations of what we usually do," he said. "We try to put our emphasis on Yankee favorites; regional cuisine. We supplement that with steaks and seasoned fish."

That would include entrees like hangar steak, chicken picatta and Atlantic salmon, for a $30.14 dinner. This will be their first time taking part in Restaurant Week, he said.

Restaurants taking part include the newly opened TED restaurant, up the road at the Inn at Willow Pond, The Pawlet Station in Pawlet -- a bit farther up Route 30 in that picturesque little town -- The Perfect Wife, Al Ducci di Notte back in Manchester, Dorset Inn and Barrows House in Dorset, and the West Mountain Inn in Arlington.

"Hopefully, it will bring the locals out and maybe open up the doors to new customers from the surrounding areas," Brandt said. If you go ... What: Restaurant Week in the Manchester area When: Friday, April 25, to Friday, May 4 Where: Restaurants taking part include the newly opened TED restaurant up the road at the Inn at Willow Pond, The Pawlet Station in Pawlet -- a bit further up Route 30 -- The Perfect Wife, Al Ducci di Notte back in Manchester, the Dorset Inn and Barrows House in Dorset and the West Mountain Inn in Arlington. More may join by Friday, April 25. Cost: Restaurants in the event will offer special fixed price menus -- lunch for $20.14 per person for three-course meals, or per couple for two courses for each person, or dinner at $30.14 per person for three courses, or per couple for twp courses for each person. Beverages, taxes and gratuity will be extra. Information: For choices at each restaurant, and a full list or restaurants, visit the SoVT Restaurant Week Facebook page. For more information, contact Beth Whitaker at


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