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Loads of Entrées

Side Dishes: New restos spice up Northern Vermont dining


Published January 30, 2008 at 11:30 a.m.


The long-awaited fish tacos are back! Last Wednesday, several months after their "guesstimated" opening date, Big Chile Republic opened the doors at its new location, 70 Roosevelt Highway in Colchester. Aside from the tacos, what's on Chef Chris Hechanova's new menu? Funky fusion dishes such as curried cauliflower cakes with Vermont goat cheese, adobo chicken with queso fresco hash and sherry jus, and duck confit with hominy, capers and prunes.

The new restaurant can accommodate 24 diners from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and until 10 p.m. on Saturday. Take-out is always an option, and the restaurant has expanded its delivery service. They'll bring calamari with tamarind mayo to your home - except on Sunday, when Big Chile Republic is closed.

It must be nice for Hechanova to finally spread out in a commercial kitchen. He used to cook Big Chile's fare in his own apartment.

Can't get enough pho? B-town's new Vietnamese eatery, Pho Hong, opens Friday in the old Global Markets spot on North Winooski Avenue. Cook Lan Hong, for whom the restaurant is named, promises all the standards, such as pho made with beef or chicken, appetizer rolls and calamari with lemongrass. She'll also whip up a few Thai specialties - panang curry and tom yum soup are on the menu - and a bunch of vegetarian dishes, "because people want things without meat," she says. Come and get it from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.

The new Sadie Katz Deli, which will replace the Oasis Diner on Bank Street, should be open by mid-February. So says owner Glenn Walter. "We're probably a couple weeks out . . . at the moment we're installing our kitchen equipment and rewiring the electric."

Things can get crazy toward the end of renovation projects, but Walter doesn't seem too worried. "My only issue is that I have to drive to New York City and pick up my Dr. Brown's Soda," he says.

Clearly Walter, who also owns the nearby Three Needs, is much too busy to pick up all the authentic Jewish specialties he'll be serving, but he's playing coy about how he'll stock up on them in the Green Mountains. "It's all secret. I'm gonna keep my sources to myself," he explains. "I worked long and hard to find them."

Most Vermont delis don't know from chopped liver and pastrami. A new one in Montpelier, The Uncommon Market, adds Northern Italian lasagna and a few kinds of quiche to more traditional offerings.

According to Sharon Allen, who owns the business with husband Peter, the spot on the corner of School and Elm used to be a deli-quick-stop combo. The Allens have converted it into an eclectic market and deli, offering "produce, frozen food, healthy chicken pies, tofu, beer and chips," as well as sandwiches made with high-end Boar's Head meats. They start serving breakfast sandwiches at 6 a.m. on weekdays, 7 a.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. on Sunday. The place stays open until 8 p.m. every day but Sunday, when it closes at 7. Of their "short" 11-hour working Sundays, Allen cracks, "That's our day of rest."

The Blue Cat Café has finally made the steakhouse transition. The former bistro now offers lots of "juicy steaks" and seafood entrées alongside vegetarian dishes. And the Cat is doing it up Vermont style, with as many local products as possible - including "some of the best cheeses in the world," according to owners Mariasha and Ozzy Giral.

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