by Alice Levitt
Saturday night, 400 Pine Street, Burlington, 540-0406
For my feature in the paper this week, I hit up four of the regular pop-up nights at the ArtsRiot Kitchen Collective. I wasn't able to make it to the fifth, kitchen manager Tommy Winrock's Saturday Handmade Food night, before press time.
Since it was Thanksgiving weekend, Winrock stuck to the basics. Suspecting that some diners were already sick of their leftover turkey, Winrock declared that evening Wing Night.
It was a refreshing departure from gorging on stuffing. And even with such simple food, the New England Culinary Institute alum's talent shined through.
Seriously, even the carrot and celery sticks were cut in textbook batonnets. My dining partner can be shy about the spice and vinegar of Buffalo wings, but he appreciated Winrock's crisp version, especially dipped in the thick side of blue cheese dressing.
The spice-rubbed wings were more fun, though. A subtle burn built slowly amid a slew of dry herbs dominated by oregano.
I was less enchanted with the sweet potato fries. Not as uniform as the raw veggies, some were ideally crisp, but others flopped when I picked them up. All the same, they were well seasoned and a nice departure from the regular potato option.
But believe it or not, my favorite item of the meal was the Caesar salad. And not because it was a creamy, fatty mess. It wasn't.
The clear, lemony dressing was dotted with Parmesan, but it was more prominently flavored with a dose of fresh herbs. On a snowy night, it was a refreshing blast of summer.
But even the relatively virtuous salad had its indulgence: crisp croutons that burst with fat when bitten.
The low-key meal may not have been a full reflection of what Winrock can do. But if this week's taco and burrito night features the mole sauce he served at Tommy's City Grill, I'll do what I can to be there.
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.