Church & Main was originally slated to serve its first meal in time for last summer’s Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. Fast forward: The long-awaited new occupant of the Church Street spot that formerly held Smokejacks will open its doors on Monday, October 11. Founder and proprietor Ned Church, a first-time restaurateur, says all systems are go.
Diners who line up at the restaurant will find plenty of room inside. The fire department permits Church & Main to seat 80. They can fill up a comfortable lounge area, banquettes and a VIP section with a round booth, as well as nine tables in the regular dining room.
Church says he designed the lighting to create a gallery atmosphere that showcases the black-and-white photography he commissioned from Vermont artist friends. The collection includes work by Natalie Stultz, Betsy Rich, Jordan Douglas, Jeff Clarke and photojournalist Jerry Swope.
Church & Main’s menu is large, especially for a new restaurant; it lists 17 small plates alone, not including soups or salads. Look for the panko-crusted, smoked Scotch egg with housemade sausage and mustard sauce. Church says his personal favorite dishes include tuna tartare fish tacos and vanilla-scented lobster risotto.
There are five burgers, including a homemade white-bean patty for vegetarians. Since the “community-minded” business — in Church’s words — already belongs to the Vermont Fresh Network and Keep Local Farms, much of the meat and produce will be local.
Church says chef Benjamin Brezic, a former New England Culinary Institute instructor, spent months “tweaking and perfecting” his fried chicken with a savory herbed corn waffle. “The gravy on top is unique,” Church says. “It’s made with bacon and bourbon.” More upscale entrées include a New York strip steak with sun-dried-tomato hollandaise and a side of caramelized onion and blue cheese bread pudding.
Ice creams and sorbets will be made in-house. Other desserts include “brownie spring rolls,” cider doughnut bread pudding and Bananas Foster flambéed tableside.
General manager David Sullivan, a certified sommelier, is still planning the full drink menu, but Church assures there will be five beers on tap and several bottled brands. The menu groups wines by their tastes, such as “off-dry,” “crisp and bright to medium body” and “Rhône style.” A careful selection of less expensive domestic and foreign bottles will share space with the likes of Louis Roederer Cristal and a $550 Harlan Estate cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley. Sullivan is hard at work concocting mixed drinks, most of which, Church says, can also be prepared without alcohol.
After a 14-month planning process, Church says he feels lucky to have such a strong team behind him. “We’re not just the geographic heart of this town; it’s our community that we also place as central to our mission,” he says. “I want benefit organizations and local grassroots to think of Church & Main when they’re planning their [events].”
Sounds good. But for now we’d all just like a look inside.