by Alice Levitt
28 Main Street, Winooski, 655-9081
Sneakers Bistro may have started serving breakfast and lunch 33 years ago, but it was March of this year that the beloved egg slingers began serving dinner from Wednesday through Saturday.
Despite an otherwise busy downtown, only one other couple was eating when we arrived. When we left, we were alone.
Why the stark contrast to the lines out the door on weekend mornings? Is it possible that people still don't know that their favorite breakfast joint is doing dinner?
Clearly, not enough people know about the best deal on the rotary: From 5 to 7 p.m., tacos are $2.50 each.
I just missed the cutoff, but still ordered a plate for $12.
Apparently, green peppers were the order of the day. If anyone was ever excited about the Wonderbread of vegetables, they were too embarrassed to say.
The seared tilapia taco, served with peach salsa — and green peppers — couldn't overcome the flavor black hole. Too moist for the thick corn tortilla to handle, it also fell apart at first bite.
The smoked chicken taco was better. With a heavy whiff of smoke, the chicken itself packed plenty of character. While a slick of jalapeño aioli was lacking in spice, it made tasty bedfellows with a perhaps too-thick shower of shredded cheddar. And yes, there were bell peppers, but the red ones this time, adding a pleasant sweetness. It was far better than the dry, unaccountably bland rice and beans. The lesson here: Sneakers is not the place for "Mexican" unless you're in the market for $2.50 tacos.
But just as at lunch, it is most certainly a destination for groundbreakingly greasy sandwiches.
The scrummy fried green tomato BLT found a way to improve on the classic sandwich: Fry everything.
The result was the overlap on the BLT-grilled-cheese Venn diagram.
Mild cheddar melted between slices of golden, butter-browned bread. Tangy fried tomatoes blended texturally with the crisp bacon, which lent hint of smoke to the pile of fried flavors, along with a thick slathering of red pepper mayo. Oh yeah, there was some arugula, too.
I wasn't a fan of the ultra-dark fries. Some were crisp on the outside, most were not. Some were soft on the inside, most were not. But really, fries were redundant anyway.
I had to save room for dessert. Specifically the salted caramel brownie sundae.
Warm brownies, topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and salted caramel = guaranteed enjoyment.
So, the caramel wasn't particularly salty and it hardened quickly upon making contact with the ice cream. But that didn't stop me from eating far more than I had hoped.
Still, at the end of my meal, I couldn't help but wish I had been able to order hash and eggs or Kahlua French toast. Perhaps if Sneakers served breakfast for dinner, the lines might be more like those in the morning.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.