Getting the Vibe: Breakfast, Lunch and Early Dinner in Randolph | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Getting the Vibe: Breakfast, Lunch and Early Dinner in Randolph


Published November 14, 2023 at 2:24 p.m.
Updated November 15, 2023 at 10:23 a.m.

Clockwise from far left: Smashed potatoes, Boozy Apple cocktail, chorizo meatballs, fall daiquiri, radicchio salad and pretzel bread pudding at Short Notice - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Clockwise from far left: Smashed potatoes, Boozy Apple cocktail, chorizo meatballs, fall daiquiri, radicchio salad and pretzel bread pudding at Short Notice

When I met Ben Rapson for lunch in early November, the Randolph resident pointed out a quirk of his central Vermont town: Its main streets form a giant capital R.

Rapson has lived in Randolph for only four months, but he has quickly become a cheerleader for the town — and a contributor to its new website, Randolph Vibe, a guide to the local scene. He was so taken by this coincidence of urban design that he made the map his phone background.

"R marks the spot," he said, flashing his lock screen across the table.

Over the past couple of years, Randolph has hit the map as a dining destination, with new globally inspired restaurants and national recognition for Nisachon "Rung" Morgan, chef and co-owner of Saap, who was named best chef in the Northeast by the James Beard Foundation in June 2022.

This small town has a lot going on. And, as Rapson pointed out, it's right off Interstate 89.

"You start descending into the valley when you see the 'Whale Dance' sculpture," he said, referring to a roadside work by local artist Jim Sardonis. "Less than one song later, you're in the center of town."

When I visited recently, it had been a while since I'd gotten off at Exit 4, and several new restaurants had popped up — more than enough for our occasional "Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner" series, which recommends a day's worth of meals in one Vermont city or town.

My visit coincided with the launch of Randolph Vibe on November 6. Stick-season breaks and schedule changes at some restaurants in town narrowed down my itinerary, so see the sidebar for more recommendations that I wasn't able to sample.

Rapson joined me for my second stop of the day, at Kuya's at One Main. He told me that his work on Randolph Vibe — a living directory of the town's dining, shopping, arts, recreation and events, created for residents and visitors alike — has connected him with folks all over town.

"Randolph has so many champions," Rapson said. "We're sending out a strong beacon that says, 'Yes, this town has gone through a lot, just like any town in Vermont. There have been peaks and valleys. But it's in a peak right now.'"

While enjoying breakfast, lunch and dinner at restaurants that have opened over the past year — all on the same block of North Main Street — I took in the view from that peak.

On a (Cinnamon) Roll

Windy Lane Bakehouse, 15N N. Main St., Randolph, 565-5175,
Cinnamon roll at Windy Lane Bakehouse - BENJAMIN DEFLORIO
  • Benjamin Deflorio
  • Cinnamon roll at Windy Lane Bakehouse

Over the summer, the shades were drawn over Windy Lane Bakehouse's North Main Street windows — not because owner Kelsey Wolfe was working in secret, but because the sun was shining in too intensely. Now that the weather has cooled, walkers-by can peer into the bakery's production space and catch a glimpse of Wolfe in action.

"I get so many little smiles and waves during the day," she said. "Until I worked downtown, I didn't realize how busy it was."

Wolfe was the only one in the kitchen when she moved her home-based bakery to the redeveloped former Belmains retail space in November 2022. Due to staffing changes, she's now back to solo baking — except when her 4-year-old son stops by before or after preschool.

"He has his own working nook and his own apron," Wolfe said. "Sometimes he goes out front, and he's started getting tips, which is very motivating. Now he's like, 'What do you need me to do? Take out the compost?'"

Kelsey Wolfe at Windy Lane Bakehouse - BENJAMIN DEFLORIO
  • Benjamin Deflorio
  • Kelsey Wolfe at Windy Lane Bakehouse

When I made it to Randolph around 10 a.m., the glass case at Windy Lane was stocked with pumpkin whoopie pies, almond chocolate bars and other sweet treats. Cookies sat in neat piles on the counter, tempting me to expand my usual definition of "breakfast." But the tray of huge, gooey cinnamon rolls ($3.75) won out.

Those tend to go early, Wolfe said, so I'd gotten lucky. She typically makes two to three dozen cinnamon rolls every weekday, slathering brioche dough with brown-sugar-and-butter filling, cinnamon, and an unexpected touch of nutmeg.

"What really makes them is the glaze," Wolfe said, noting that it's cream cheese-based, with a lot of vanilla. "I don't skimp on the glaze," she continued. "It's covering every nook and cranny."

Cupcakes at Windy Lane Bakehouse - BENJAMIN DEFLORIO
  • Benjamin Deflorio
  • Cupcakes at Windy Lane Bakehouse

I wished I'd grabbed more napkins as I navigated the first few bites, before remembering that one of the joys of a cinnamon roll is licking your fingers after it's gone. If the mark of cinnamon roll quality is how messy you are after eating it, Wolfe's was exceptional.

Windy Lane offers a few savory breakfast items, including scones, hand pies and occasionally quiche, as well as simple drip coffee and several teas from Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea. But sitting at the bar along the big windows and watching the town go about its morning was sweet enough that I wanted a treat to match.

Making a Buzz

Kuya's at One Main, 2 Merchants Row, Randolph, 565-8037,
Arroz caldo and Filipino bánh mì at Kuya's at One Main - JORDAN BARRY ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Jordan Barry ©️ Seven Days
  • Arroz caldo and Filipino bánh mì at Kuya's at One Main

When Patty Burns and her husband, Travis, moved their restaurant down the block in September 2022, one of the things she was most excited about was having a full bar. As a consultant, the pro bartender had helped the former One Main Tap & Grill expand its booze program, but she had none of her own at the couple's sandwich shop.

Now, in their new digs at Kuya's at One Main, the couple still serve lunch but focus on dinner service, and Burns is mixing up a creative drink menu there and making a splash in the statewide industry. In September, she won both the final round and the People's Choice award at an inaugural Barr Hill event, the Royal Jelly — a Bee's Knees Cocktail Competition.

"It was the perfect way for me to push myself, which you have to do in the middle of nowhere," Burns said with a laugh. "But being here, using the local products from where my husband is from — that's really exciting to me."

Burns' winning cocktail, Miss B. Hivin', combines flavors from her native Philippines, such as calamansi juice and homemade pineapple gum syrup, with Barr Hill gin and Brookfield Bees wildflower honey. It's now on the menu at Kuya's. I was tempted to order one when I stopped in for lunch but opted for a hot mug of salabat ($4), one of the restaurant's many thoughtful nonalcoholic offerings.

I was sipping on the spicy-sweet traditional Filipino ginger tea when Rapson walked in to join me. Though he'd been at Kuya's for dinner the night before, he didn't seem to mind doubling down with the restaurant's best-selling Filipino bánh mì ($16).

I enjoyed that sandwich in Kuya's original location, and an open-fire flame grill in the new space produces a leveled-up version. But I opted instead to continue my warming-up-from-the-inside theme with a comforting bowl of arroz caldo ($12). The congee-like rice porridge is flavored with ginger and fish sauce, filled with chunks of tender chicken and topped with scallions, crispy garlic, chicharrones, hard-boiled egg and lime wedges for squeezing over everything else.

Patty and Travis Burns in the original Kuya's space in 2021 - FILE: SARAH PRIESTAP
  • File: Sarah Priestap
  • Patty and Travis Burns in the original Kuya's space in 2021

The Filipino touches on Kuya's menu make it stand out, not just in Randolph but in Vermont, where the cuisine is still underrepresented. But the restaurant also serves more typical sandwiches, burgers and salads for lunch and a variety of small plates and mains at dinnertime. A dinner-only highlight, Rapson said, is the perfectly fried vegetable and pork lumpia.

"My wife and I both grew up close to Filipino friends, and their very collaborative family kitchens are stored away in our separate teenage memories," he said. "The first time we had the lumpia here, we both shed a tear."

The Burnses rely on regulars such as Rapson to keep Kuya's going. Moving to the larger space at One Main was a huge opportunity, Burns said, but it's still a tough time for restaurants. They've launched a crowdfunding campaign to create a cushion for the slower winter months and make necessary repairs, with the eventual goal of buying out One Main's former owners, Shane Niles and Josh Niebling.

"It's a community effort to make a place like this exist," Burns said. "But this town has always been a community-driven place, and that's what makes it flourish."

Small Plates, Big Impact

Short Notice, 29 N. Main St., Randolph, 565-8589,
Pretzel bread pudding at Short Notice - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Pretzel bread pudding at Short Notice

Randi Taylor and Lucas Battey opened their small-plates restaurant and cocktail bar on June 10, taking over the space that Kuya's vacated when it moved to One Main. From the start, the co-owners knew they wanted to capture afternoon and late-night hours that most other restaurants in town don't; currently, they serve from 3 p.m. to 10 or 11 p.m.

Short Notice's world-traveling, shareable menu is ideal for any time of night you decide to have dinner and however hungry you are. Showing up on the early side, I split a smattering of dishes with my husband — more than an afternoon snack, but not quite a full-menu fête. We left physically satisfied after chorizo meatballs ($11), smashed potatoes ($10), radicchio salad ($13), pretzel bread pudding ($12) and a slice of pumpkin spice cake ($7). But the playful flavor combos, inspired by Battey and Taylor's travels, had me wishing we'd gone all in on the menu's 10 or so other shareables, small plates and sandwiches.

Battey and Taylor change their menu roughly every six weeks, making the most of seasonal ingredients. As fall turns to winter, that means hearty polenta cake, rich mole with the chorizo meatballs, and parsnips instead of carrots for the popular root vegetable "fries" (which aren't actually deep-fried, because the restaurant doesn't have a fryer).

"One of our goals is to let our regulars and people in town try new things," said Battey, who trained at the New England Culinary Institute. "We want to offer things that aren't all that common in central Vermont."

Lucas Battey and Randi Taylor at Short Notice - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Lucas Battey and Randi Taylor at Short Notice

The bread pudding, in particular, is a dish that will stick with me for a while — and not just because it stuck to my ribs on one of the first cold days of the season. It started as a special to use up extra housemade pretzels, Taylor said. Now on the regular menu, the dish combines those pretzels with housemade bratwurst, succulent braised cabbage, Gruyère and a tangy caraway-mustard beer sauce. The result is German-influenced and reminiscent of really good stuffing — imagine if a beer hall put on a Thanksgiving feast.

The pumpkin spice cake capitalized on fall flavors, too, with Swiss, caramel and cinnamon buttercream frostings separating its layers. The sweet offerings, which change throughout the week, show off Taylor's pastry skills and have become their own draw.

"We have people who come in after a show at the Chandler [Center for the Arts] looking for dessert and a cocktail, which is pretty fun," Taylor said.

Next visit, I'll give late dinner a try.

More Randolph Recs

Early November can be a tricky time to visit restaurants in Vermont, as many take the opportunity for a between-the-tourists break. When I headed to Randolph, some of the spots recommended by local Ben Rapson were closed or had temporarily switched their schedules.

Since I couldn't eat everywhere, Rapson offered suggestions for more meals around town — an ideal dining day outside the constraints of time and stomach capacity. Looking for even more? Find a full directory of Randolph restaurants at

The original print version of this article was headlined "R Marks the Spot | Breakfast, lunch and early dinner in Randolph"

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