7 Bakery Lane, Middlebury, 388-4182
I had never been to Tully and Marie's or Woody's, the restaurants that filled the Bakery Lane location in Middlebury for as long as I've been in the state. The location can't be beat, with waterfront views from every table. Diners can choose to look at Otter Creek from outside, or from one of three indoor levels. The interior is painted bright yellow and decorated with black and white photos of farm animals. You can't help but feel happy in there.
Appetizers and entrées are evenly split between vegetarian and meat dishes. My party tried one of each. A pair of smoky poblano peppers were each stuffed with a different filling. One held a Southwestern-style Thanksgiving stuffing — bread based, but filled with savory black beans; the other had chèvre, jack cheese and toasted pine nuts. Both sizable peppers were topped with fresh salsa and placed on a sea of black beans. Once again, the beans would have benefited from a heavier hand with the seasonings.
Despite any minor shortcomings, the food at Jackson's was filling enough that I didn't spring for dessert. If I had, I would have chosen banana tres leches cake, for sure. Instead, I distracted my sweet tooth with a trip to the bathroom before leaving. A pot of piña colada-scented potpourri made it a pleasure. Points to Jackson's for winning the title of best-smelling bathroom in Vermont from me.