by Alice Levitt and Suzanne Podhaizer
For various reasons — contractors, licensing issues — many restaurants open weeks or even months after their owners' hope they will. Not Shelburne Steakhouse. Owners JoAnne Paquette and Eric Fritzeen had scheduled a "sneak preview" for this Friday, with dinner and a concert by Radio Flyer. However, the twosome were just too eager: "Monday, this was a construction zone," says Paquette. "I got up in the morning and said to Eric, 'I'm done being a construction site. We're opening!'" Tuesday night, 40 people visited the dining room. On Wednesday, word of mouth brought in 130 guests.
What were they eating? Homegrown veggies, for one thing. The staff uses Intervale compost to nurture plants right at the restaurant. They're used on the salad bar and in meat-free entrées such as eggplant baked with Shelburne-Farms-cheddar bechamel and spinach. Beef options range from bacon 'n' bleu-crusted filet mignon to slow-roasted ribs. On the New-England-caught seafood side, eaters find crab-stuffed lobster tails and bouillabaisse. There are also lamb, duck and pork dishes, all prepared by Levi Carter, formerly of A Single Pebble and Clover House.
The opening was not without its flaps.