by Alice Levitt
1076 Williston Road, South Burlington 862-6585
When dining out at a pricier venue, sometimes it's worth checking out the bar. It was this wisdom that lead me to compare the menu at The Upper Deck Pub to its South Burlington Best Western big brother, The Windjammer. When I have dined at the Windjammer, I have always ordered the $21.99 six-ounce filet mignon. Imagine my pleasure at seeing the same steak is only $16.99 upstairs (pictured).
Once I arrived, I was further encouraged when I recognized most of the staff of Leunig's gathered at a long group of tables. When that gang is choosing bar food, it better be good. In one corner of the nautical-themed room, filled with TVs playing women's college basketball, lay one of my favorite sites at a casual restaurant — a self-service popcorn machine. This one contained kernels salted and buttered to the brink of a heart attack. Yum.
The filet was every bit as good as its Windjammer counterpart. Cooked perfectly to my requested medium rare, well-aged and admirably seasoned, it was accompanied by a tiny cup of Bearnaise which featured an ideal balance of buttery and vinegary flavors. For another $3.99, you can add a trip to the famed Windjammer salad bar to that or any entree.
But instead of salad, I bolstered my meal with a plate of ten wings ($6.99, pictured). The meaty chicken parts were fried ultra-crisp, moist inside and coated in a slightly gooey maple chipotle barbecue sauce. You won't need extras if you order the shepherd's pie ($9.99), unquestionably the largest I've ever seen. Served in a plate-sized tureen, the crusty mashed potatoes are cheesy, the beef flavorful and corn ever-so-slightly browned at the edges. You may not have room for dessert, but the pie, with its potatoes piped from a pastry bag is so aesthetically pleasing, you won't miss it.