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Dining on a Dime: Otter East Bakery & Deli


Veggie grilled cheese at Otter East - REID BROWN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Reid Brown ©️ Seven Days
  • Veggie grilled cheese at Otter East
A native Vermonter who recently returned home as a transfer student, I've been desperate for some feel-good Green Mountain cuisine. I craved something other than dining-hall food, specifically something with that homemade, motherly love flavor.

One of my housemates mentioned the delicious sandwiches at Otter East Bakery & Deli, located in the village of East Middlebury just a short drive from my college campus. Ned Horton owns the  small shop at 51 Ossie Road, as well as Otter Creek Bakery & Deli in downtown Middlebury.
Unlike the original shop in the center of town, Otter East is in an unexpected spot tucked away off scenic Route 7. It’s the perfect place to grab a quick breakfast or lunch before heading out for a picnic or hike. (Local trails range in difficulty from the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail, which invites an easy stroll, to the Abbey Pond Trail, great for a strenuous excursion.)

Otter East specializes in sandwiches for each day of the week, and Wednesday's is veggie grilled cheese. I'm a huge grilled cheese fan; it brings back some of my fondest childhood memories. Considering that I craved a homemade meal, it seemed like the perfect choice. Since Otter East currently offers takeout only, I ordered online approximately 30 minutes ahead. When I arrived, I was greeted by a bright, sky-blue building and the image of a beaming aquatic mammal in the logo over the entrance. My sandwich was ready to go, and I headed back to campus for a late lunch.
Otter East Bakery & Deli - REID BROWN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Reid Brown ©️ Seven Days
  • Otter East Bakery & Deli

For just $9, the deli delivered. Two slices of house-baked wheat bread were stuffed with Cabot cheddar, caramelized onions and spinach. The first bite offered a  buttery, crisped exterior and the perfect mix of savory flavors inside. It achieved exactly what I had wanted: a sandwich with that warm, homestyle flavor. The simultaneous crunch and softness reminded me of how my mother’s grilled cheese warmed me up on a cold day.

Otter East is open Tuesday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Every daily sandwich special is priced under the Dining on a Dime limit of $12. They include Tuesday’s Midwester ($10), made with roast beef, mayo, horseradish, provolone, lettuce and tomato; and Saturday’s Reuben ($11), with pastrami, Swiss, sauerkraut and Russian dressing on rye bread.

If none of the house sandwiches catch your fancy, you can build your own. For breakfast, Otter East offers both savory and sweet options that include bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, as well as baked goods. The bakery's cardamom cinnamon doughnuts promise to delight.

My only regret was that I couldn't quite squeeze an Otter East milkshake ($5) into my $12 budget. Next time I head back there, I’ll bring a friend to split a maple milkshake made with vanilla ice cream and Vermont maple syrup. It will be the perfect end to my Vermont homecoming meal.
Dining on a Dime is a series featuring well-made, filling bites (something substantial enough to qualify as a small meal or better) for $12 or less. Know of a tasty dish we should feature? Drop us a line: food@sevendaysvt.com.