Habitués of Vergennes' Bar Antidote are familiar with chef-owner Ian Huizenga's multifaceted gastropub fare. At this hub below the sidewalks of 35C Green Street, guests can get everything from salt-and-vinegar fries to pasta carbonara to 'Dote burgers, noodle bowls and house-smoked ribs.
Earlier this summer, Huizenga began work on a 1,600-square-foot addition, expanding into the upstairs area formerly owned by the Clock Shop. Come Labor Day, the chef will open a wide bar and dining area with natural light, in contrast to his bar's speakeasy-style underground floor.
Though the downstairs will remain unchanged, Antidote's upstairs menu will showcase the extra room to play, says Huizenga. Expect house-cured meats, Korean steamed buns, kimchi and, he hopes, an in-house pizza oven.
But the essential difference between upstairs and down will be the beer. While the downstairs bar will feature the usual lengthy local tap list, Huizenga's own brews will flow upstairs.
In December 2015, the chef began sharing a brewing space with Hogback Mountain Brewing at the Bobcat Café & Brewery in nearby Bristol. Under the name Hired Hand Brewing, Huizenga has since released 12 beers on Antidote's taps. They include a session IPA, a malty hybrid of red and amber ale, and an espresso milk stout that doubles as dessert in stout floats and shakes.
In partnership with Peterson Quality Malt, a craft-malt house in North Ferrisburgh, and Ferrisburgh's Square Nail Hops Farm, the chef hopes to have two or three beers made with 100 percent Vermont ingredients in the works by September.
"The upcoming space is not only an expansion of my food but of what I want to make for beer," says Huizenga. "The brewing community is very cool — not anywhere near as aggressive as the kitchen. It's a nice change." For now, Hired Hand cold pints and growler fills can be found only at Bar Antidote, but, says Huizenga, "We'll see where everything goes."