Hardwick locavore pioneer Claire's Restaurant & Bar closed on March 4. But hungry residents won't have long to mourn. On May 9, a new restaurant will debut at Claire's 41 South Main Street location.
Vermont Supper Club is the restaurant that Peter and Jean Marie McLyman have long dreamed of opening. Peter, who was most recently executive chef at Waterbury Center's Country Club of Vermont, says creating a restaurant from scratch is the realization of one of his life goals. "Being in Waterbury, we always thought we'd open in Stowe," he recalls. "But this nice little restaurant in a small town is really more Jean Marie's and my speed."
McLyman's concept is in the name: He plans a 1940s-style supper club. "Back in the '40s when [supper clubs] were really popular, anybody could go out to enjoy dinner with their wife or girlfriend at a reasonable price," he explains. In keeping with the supper-club vibe, the restaurant will host musicians at least once a week, says Jean Marie McLyman.
Once open, Vermont Supper Club will serve lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. On Friday and Saturday, service will stretch until 11 p.m.
The restaurant will offer a lighter, bistro-style lunch menu, including fish tacos in tequila-lime sauce, prime-rib-and-watercress flatbread and a range of salads.
At dinner, that menu will expand to include higher-end fare. Appetizers will include homemade mushroom ravioli in a tarragon cream sauce, oysters on the half shell and a pork rillettes crêpe. To fit the '40s theme, entrées will be mostly of the steak-and-seafood variety, featuring creative touches more welcome today than in the supper clubs of yore. Pan-seared arctic char will be served in a mango beurre blanc with jicama-celeriac slaw, while traditional steaks will be joined by wiener schnitzel with roasted-garlic spaetzle, melted leeks and lingonberries.
McLyman says he'll concentrate on working with local farmers once summer arrives. He acknowledges that not everything he serves will have been raised in the Northeast Kingdom, and that keeping his prices low while supporting area producers will be a balancing act, just as it was for Claire's. But locals are eager to taste the results of that endeavor.