Vermont is a wonderful place. Few places showcase the seasons as dramatically as the Green Mountain State. Likewise, few restaurants capture the flavor of those seasons better than The Kitchen Table Bistro in Richmond, VT. This chef-owned eatery takes the trendy ideals of sustainable, local dining and humbly applies them as an overarching philosophy.
The dining rooms are set within an old farmhouse, which aside from the bar, hasn’t been touched apart from a fresh coat of paint and some new fixtures. Naturally this farmhouse sits within a stones throw of many local farms with whom they partner with to source their seasonal ingredients. I’ve had the opportunity to visit The Kitchen Table (KTB) many times, and I’ve never had the same thing twice. Mind you, this isn’t one of those “change the menu every day” type of places. No, the folks at KTB are patient, with an understanding that you should enjoy the seasons and the many fruits, veggies and meats that come with them, until the time comes to move on.
My most recent visit took place just last month, so the fresh summer items were present in full force. The four of us took our place in one of the side rooms, eager to check out the new menu. It was chock full of fresh root veggies like radishes, beets and celery root, along with squash, garlic, sweet peas and corn. The proteins were even more enticing, fresh chicken liver pate, mussels, cod and rib-eye. These types of places always give me a headache when I have to decide between 15 different items when I want to try them all! Stubbornly, we all channeled some of the KTB patience and chose our meal. The appetizers were as follows:
Switchback Fried Half Pint Squash Blossoms, Purslane with Espelette Aioli
Green Garlic Soup, Goat Cheese and Toasted Almonds
Half Pint Heirloom Tomatoes, Tasty Jade Cukes and Charred Corn with Maplebrook Burratta
Boyden Farm Steak Tartare, Crispy Potatoes, Assorted Pickles and Tiny Half Pint Greens
The squash blossoms were, of course, delicious. Fried flowers have never tasted so good, apart from the ones my parents grow in their garden that is. Squash blossoms were born to be fried and dunked in aioli, crisp and sweet, with a slight grassy tinge, they go so well with the creamy homemade sauce.
This summer I discovered a couple new facets of my favorite bulb, garlic that is. First of all, scapes are amazing. I’m a little annoyed that a garlic lover such as myself hasn’t learned about them until now. I’ll have a post on them soon. Secondly, green garlic, which is really just immature garlic, is incredibly delicious. Stronger than a scallion, but milder than full-grown garlic, it makes for a perfect soup. Just enough kick to pair with the creamy goat cheese and crisp almond slices. I’m not a soup guy usually, but this hit the spot, especially on a warm summer evening.
Burrata. What more needs to be said. Local burrata. Oh yeah, it doesn’t get much better unless you’re making it yourself and eating it immediately. Combine it with some fresh veg picked out of the garden that day and you’re in business. I could almost understand how a vegetarian thinks, until I slid a chunk of that cheese into my mouth. C’mon guys meet me half way here, the things we love go together so well! The KTB should negotiate a eats treaty so we can all enjoy the best that food has to offer…anyway.
The entreés. There are usually one or two mainstays that anchor the menu. The most well-known is the Misty Knoll Chicken Breast. While it is amazing, someone gets it every single time, so we all agreed to widen our horizons. And the choices were…
Braised LaPlatte Farm Short Ribs, Creamy Herb Spaetzle, Grilled Escarole and Mushrooms
Seared Scallops, Sweet Pea-Celery Root Pureé, Peas and Corn
Roasted New England Cod, Mashed Potatoes, Beet Greens, Fresh Pearl Onions and Braised Bacon
You can’t go wrong with short ribs and the boys in the back didn’t disappoint. The reduced sauce was nicely caramelized on the seared meat which practically fell apart to the touch. The spaetzle added a creamy touch that was a nice change from the familiar polenta or potato components that usually accompany dishes like this.
Both seafood dishes were spot on. The scallops, plump and sweet, were complimented by the farm fresh veg that had a sweetness of their own. What I really enjoyed was how lightly the veg was cooked so that they kept their bright and crisp consistency. The cod however, was tender and flaky just as it should be. It was a strikingly beautiful dish as well, the bright white, pillowy cod was presented atop the smooth potatoes like a gift. This really let the bacon and beet greens standout.
Of course, no respectable meal can end without a small smackeral of something sweet. Apparently I’ve earned the reputation of chocolate fiend, so since everyone else had no objections, we went with the dark chocolate fudge cake with warm chocolate and butterscotch sauces and caramel-butterscotch swirl ice cream. I don’t think a fancy explanation is necessary here, I’ll just let you enjoy the pic.
It was another delicious and memorable family meal courtesy of The Kitchen Table. For me, food is more than just sustenance, it’s about making memories. Whether you’re trying something new, hitting up an old familiar spot, or cooking up something fresh and tasty at home, it’s all about the people you’re with.
So if you live on the east coast and you’re hankering for a true fine dining/locavore feast, forget making the pilgrimage to the French Laundry, we’ve got a real competitor on this side of the Mississippi. Many restaurants claim to be farm-to-table, but few can back it up. At The Kitchen Table, it’s just the way things are.