Davis Student Center, 590 Main Street UVM, Burlington, 656-3081
Remember when you were a kid and the popcorn at Ground Round was the coolest thing in the world? At Brennan's at UVM's Dudley Davis Center the self-serve popcorn machine is just one of many things to earn it a spot at the cool kids' table.
Though the donors for whom the eatery is named are unrelated, the café brings to mind a certain coach – seriously local, with personality to spare. The Vermont-made assault starts right at the counter. Klinger's cookies and brownies and Rex's Outrageous Road Crew Crunch, a chocolate-covered Chex Mix-like concoction made in Jericho, prove difficult to resist while checking out the posted menu.
You can also get the sweet treats made to order. I went for the Vermont Apple Cider shake ($4.75). The nicely spiced combination of apple and vanilla ice cream benefited from the added depth of malt powder. My Vermont All-Beef Burger arrived pleasingly pink, well-seasoned and covered in sharp Cabot cheddar and ultra-crisp Vermont Smoke and Cure bacon — their burger suppliers change based on availability, so while Brennan's guarantees it's local, they don't specify its origin on the menu. Though the tomato and mixed baby green on top were not local, they were organic and extremely fresh. The Green Mountain Spinach Salad, topped with dried cranberries, Vermont Butter and Cheese chevre, Smoke and Cure bacon crumbles and lightly warmed house-made maple-balsamic dressing was awfully tasty, but skimpy for $7.25.
Breakfast is served all day, and the filling plates are an excellent budget option at just $6.25. The Vermont Buttermilk Pancakes were large and piled high. There were only three of them, but each was nearly double-thick. The sensibly prolific Smoke and Cure bacon made another appearance, along with wonderfully skinny home fries, which verged on potato chips. Another $3 will get you two ideally over-medium eggs on sourdough toast. Though the menu is on the small side, it's full of appealing choices. I can't wait to go back to try the hand-breaded local mozzarella sticks, and there's a glass of Earl Grey lemonade with my name on it.
* The original version of this post incorrectly stated that Brennan's was named for the illustrious coach Brennan. It has since been corrected.