5247 Shelburne Road, Shelburne 985-9877
I bet you're thinking I've gone crazy. "Alice," you're saying. "Are you making such huge Seven Days bucks that you think a special occasion spot such as the Bearded Frog is a great deal?"
Yes and no. Most of the time, The Bearded Frog and its sister, The Black Sheep Bistro, rest squarely on my list of requests when someone else is paying. But like many fine restaurants in big cities, The Frog cuts people like me a break in the form of a kick-ass bar menu.
If you're hungry enough for an appetizer, don't you dare pass up the Venison Cigar Rolls. They're a menu staple for a reason – addictively spiced lean meat encased in salty, flaky pastry. Dip it in the syrupy maple dipping sauce (there's also creamy horseradish) and I'm in heaven.
Burgers can be made with beef or venison. Either way, you win (see photo). Cooked to my ideal medium rare-verging-on-rare, the juices from my beautifully seasoned venison patty soaked into the kaiser roll without making it one bit soggy. Executive Chef Michel Mahe's trademark cone of frites makes the meal, which also includes a bistro-style side salad. Basil mayo and the best straight-up garlic aioli I've ever had accentuate the perfection of the crisp fries.
For a seasonal treat, try the Stonewood Farm Turkey Stew. The pot pie consists of tender chunks of meat, peas, carrots and potatoes all bathed in a deep, dark turkey gravy and topped with a jaunty cap of puff pastry. A drizzle of creamy cranberry sauce on top completes the holiday flavor.
The Callebaut Chocolate Shake is a reliably satisfying grown-up take on Wendy's Frosty. The sorbets are always seasonal and creative, but on my last visit, I couldn't resist the Carrot Cake (kind of...). And yes, that's what it was called, even on the bill (photo, right). I'm a sucker for deconstruction and wasn't disappointed with the triangle of fried dough stuffed with apple and quince, then topped with spiced carrot coulis, crunchy black walnut praline and vanilla frozen yogurt. Or to celebrate your delicious meal, you could always end the evening with a slice of Birthday Cake.