35 C Green Street, Vergennes 802-877-2555
The aftershocks of the first Vermont Restaurant Week are still radiating through my dining card. Ever since I received Bar Antidote's Restaurant Week menu back in April, I've been wanting to eat there. How could I not when smoked duck and maple-white-chocolate bread pudding were involved?
I finally found the time to head to Vergennes for a taste this week. I'm a hole-in-the-wall eater. I usually don't notice décor, but at Antidote, even I couldn't help but be impressed. A mix of old-fashioned medical paraphernalia (yes, there are phrenology heads) and local art, along with green mood lighting, give the restaurant a big-city feel without sacrificing the good old Vermont comfort of padded booths. Extra points for showing "Jeopardy!" in the bar.
The aforementioned smoked-duck appetizer (above right) was on my must-try list. I was expecting something more like a salad, but this was way more fun -- a plate filled with a generous wedge of Champlain Valley Creamery's award-winning Organic Champlain Triple; lightly dressed baby greens; chipotle-berry jam; duck breast and shredded leg meat and a baguette on which I stacked all of the above. The pungent, creamy cheese combined with salty meat and sweet jam called to mind a grown-up and decadent version of Lunchables.
Antidote was switching to its winter menu that night, so the chipotle-rhubarb ribs and oven-fried chicken I was craving were off the table -- literally. I went for a new item: cheese-filled sacchettini bathed in butternut squash-chipotle sauce. Yes, more chipotle, but I'm not complaining. The sauce was a revelation, creamy and sweet, but with earthy notes of cumin and just a hint of smoky burn from the chipotle. Two Misty Knoll Farms chicken breasts were seared to a superb crustiness while retaining a juicy, flavorful inside. The whole thing was lightly covered in pistachio pesto, which in itself was noteworthy for its sweet and slightly tangy deliciousness.
After sharing tastes of a pleasant but small BBQ pork flatbread, it was time for dessert. Of course, maple-white-chocolate bread pudding was part of the plan. The white chocolate was difficult to detect.The maple was not. Paired with a generous drizzle of caramel sauce, the dessert should have been sugar overload. But somehow, the flavors combined well enough that my teeth didn't ache. The pudding was slightly dry for my taste, but a scoop of vanilla ice cream helped.
I preferred the chocolate silk pie (right). Who can resist three kinds of chocolate? I was willing to overlook a mildly granular texture when the flavors of chocolate on chocolate on chocolate with fresh whipped cream were so very nice. I can't wait to see what Bar Antidote cooks up next Restaurant Week!