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Best Bites: One Federal, St. Albans


Published June 23, 2009 at 11:29 a.m.

I don't care about American food the way I care about Korean or Bosnian or Uyghur cuisine. It takes a lot for me to get excited about dishes most Americans consider standards.

That's why One Federal has been such a revelation. Never before did I think I could get so excited about an unadorned rack of lamb (pictured at right). But this one, seasoned with little more than salt and pepper — yet so juicily medium rare, with nary a trace of gaminess — has me dreaming.

The side of mac and cheese was among the best I’ve had. An Alfredo base makes the grown-up noodles creamy. Cheddar and high-quality Parmesan, brought from Italy by a friend of the chef, sharpen the flavor.

The kitchen knows how to fry. The chicken fingers (pictured) are stellar – ultra crispy and tender on the inside. The maple-bacon fritters are filled with green onions like light, fluffy scallion pancakes with a smoky sweetness. The fish and chips are chip-shop perfect, with little excess grease, an airy crust and fresh, moist fish. Over three visits, I found the fries reliably crisp and always perfectly seasoned. I recommend them with the Vermonter burger – a big ol’ patty glazed with maple syrup and topped with grilled apple, thick-cut bacon and sharp cheddar. 

With an onsite bakeshop, the desserts are bakery fresh. They even make the ice cream. Try the maple-walnut with a parfait glass of apple crisp. The brownie sundae, served with two giant triangles of maple bread pudding, are excellent, too.

Desserts, entrées and appetizers – I am trying to work my way through the whole menu. So far, I have literally said "Wow," upon tasting each dish.