by Alice Levitt
4109 Shelburne Road, Shelburne, 802-985-4912
There are now plenty of places to get a locally farmed burger. However, most of those restaurants have a certain level of formality and prices to go with it. It's hard to find a local patty with all the fixings for less than twelve dollars. Burlington's The Chubby Muffin has one, but the tiny café is only open for breakfast and lunch. Enter Archie's Grill, an ultra-casual, quick service resto with the motto "A fresh approach to fast food."
Just like at a fast food spot, diners order their meals at the counter. From there, they can take their meal home or wait to bring it to one of the tables lit by blue blown-glass lamps. In an attempt to keep things as local as possible, I eschewed the Hebrew National hot dogs and chicken of anonymous origin in favor of a Laplatte River Angus Farm burger and Misty Knoll Farm turkey burger.
The turkey burger appeared on a section of the menu titled "Veggie Heads." The meat was really more like a sausage than a conventional patty, combined with a mix of feta cheese, red onion, basil and organic carrots. I found the crunch of the inarguably fresh vegetables a tad distracting. And I prefer the texture of my burger to be more uniform. The roasted red peppers on top were more my speed — soft with a fine edge of char. Chipotle aioli (identified on the menu as "chipotle aioli sause") lent the burger a mildly spicy, earthy flavor and a much-needed hint of fat. I asked for a side salad to accompany the already healthy burger. I ate it with a biodegradable fork — flatware, cups and plates are all recyclable at Archie's.
The vegetables were all flavorful and crisp, though the balsamic vinaigrette that dressed them was on the thin side. Both burgers came with a homemade, lightly cured pickle that had just enough astringency to get my attention while retaining a wonderfully crunchy freshness.
For the same price of $7.95, I thought the Vermont bacon cheese burger was the better deal. Like the turkey burger, this patty filled only about 3/4 of its bun. The sweet, fluffy, egg-washed wonder was lightly toasted, and frankly didn't need a burger on it to make me happy. I was not asked at the counter how I would like my burger done. What I was served was at least medium-well and very slightly dry. The disappointment was allayed by the ample juiciness from the thick-cut slabs of Vermont Smoke & Cure bacon and "a splash" of maple syrup. A slice of pungent Cabot cheddar gave the burger character beyond sweet saltiness.
Archie's chips were an addictive delight. More uniform than most homemade potato chips, the ridgy fried slices were covered in garlic powder and cheddar. The result was surprisingly complex and mature. Not quite the chips one would expect at a restaurant whose walls are lined with framed Norman Rockwell pictures.
And then there were the cookies. My boyfriend's life will never be the same after dessert at Archie's. I was a fan of the gooey, darkly chocolaty brownie, but my enthusiasm could not match the love affair going on across the table from me. The taste of butter was so strong, the lightly crisp white chocolate-macadamia cookie barely needed the fillings. James bought three more as we passed the counter on our way out. I guess that means we'll be back. I wouldn't mind another bacon cheese burger myself.
Alice Eats is a weekly blog feature devoted to reviewing restaurants where diners can get a meal for two for less than $35. Got a restaurant you'd love to see featured? Send it to email@example.com.