Any self-respecting restaurant with an ounce of ambition strives to create an environment that transports the diner, either through atmosphere or food, preferably both! Few actually achieve this feat, but when they do, it makes for a truly memorable experience. Leunig’s Bistro & Cafe on beautiful Church Street in downtown Burlington, VT, succeeds on all fronts. The atmosphere nearly convinces you that you’ve been in Paris for a week and you’re sitting in your favorite neighborhood eatery. The decor has an aged patina that gives the illusion that this place has been around for decades. The staff also keeps up the image with their white aprons and black ties that recall old French brasseries. That’s all well and good, but as we always say here at Eat a Duck, it’s all about the food, well Leunig’s doesn’t disappoint.
Leunig’s has been one of our standbys for years, one of the main draws are their delicious, crisp white truffle fries, and you’d better believe that’s what drew us there this time. As soon as we were seated by our favorite window we ordered two French 75’s and an order of white truffle fries. A French 75, for the uninitiated, is something of an old-fashioned libation, it consists of champagne, lemon juice, simple syrup and gin (sometimes cognac). It’s the perfect springtime drink and it pairs perfectly with traditional brasserie fare. I’m getting away from the fries, oh the fries. These fries are what you always wish the sad fries on your plate could be. They are golden brown and perfectly crisp without that mushy potato mash that usually results from cooking too quickly. With a healthy sprinkling of truffle salt and parsley, you’re good to go. It’s served to you in a large wax paper cone, the result of which is a truffle party at the bottom where all the salt collects. Talk about motivation to eat the whole thing!
This may sound blasphemous, but man cannot live on truffle fries alone, so we sprang for the Trio of Vermont Sliders. No tired old beef here, all three proteins are locally sourced and found in generous supply in Vermont’s verdant hills. First up was rabbit with caramelized leeks Vermont smoke & cure peppered bacon & chocolate chèvre, followed by venison with cinnamon aioli, caramelized shallots, apples and Vermont cheddar and finishing out this fantastic set, a quail patty topped with port and fig compote and a healthy slab of seared foie gras. What awesome pairings! Chocolate goat cheese with bacon and leeks? Yes please! Even the unusual cinnamon aioli was absolutely delicious. It’s rare that I get surprised by a new flavor combination, but these three little burgers woke me up. Each went so well with their respective proteins, none being out-shined by their toppings. If I had to order them, it would go quail, venison, rabbit. Foie gras holds a special place in my heart…or is it my mouth.
Burlington might not be the typical tourist hub that would obviously have amazing food choices, but if you find yourself in the green mountains, take a stroll down Church Street and check out Leunig’s Bistro & Cafe and enjoy your little slice of Paris.
Leunig’s Bistro & Cafe – 115 Church Street, Burlington, VT 05455 – (802) 863-3759 – www.leunigsbistro.com