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Entrées and Exits

Side Dishes: The Scoop on Vermont Restaurants

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It's not straight-up Mexican food, but a new, Boston-based burrito chain is heading to B-Town. Boloco, specializing in wraps made with creative toppings and sauces as well as naturally and humanely raised meats, is coming soon to the Church Street spot that used to be occupied by Quiznos. The joint will offer smoothies, salads and breakfast fare as well.

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Right next door, in the old Baja Jack's spot, Amir Jusufagic of Amir's Kebab will be selling meat kebab, chicken kebab, gyro and a bunch of other Mediterranean specialties. It'll be called Amir's on Church Street.

There will be lots of vegetarian options, too. Samosas will come from the Samosaman, and other dishes will be made by "a woman from Turkey who is cooking for me," Jusufagic relates. "She used to have a restaurant in Istanbul, and she's going to be doing zucchini pancakes, pilaf and falafel."

Whenever possible, Jusufagic plans to use local ingredients, and intends to join the Vermont Fresh Network. Most of the beer and wine options will be imported.

Even though the new eatery will likely keep Jusufagic busy, his late-night customers won't be disappointed: The Church Street cart isn't going anywhere.

Bring on the ajvar!

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Last weekend, Red Hen Bakery of Middlesex celebrated its grand opening with an unusual ceremony: a baguette cutting by Senator Leahy. Co-owner Randy George calls it an "alternative to a Douglas ribbon cutting." Leahy did the honors with an 8-foot-long baguette that was baked for the occasion.

One thing on the menu at the new Red Hen café: farm-fresh soups from Burlington's Sugarsnap. The new café at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center is ladling 'em out, too, in flavors such as smoked bacon and crab chowder, white bean and smoked tomato, and sausage and chicken jambalaya. "We make everything from scratch and try to use the best ingredients," explains co-owner Katie Fiore.

Selling their items outside their own establishment is "a new avenue we're exploring," Fiore says. "Our soups have a really good reputation. They're pretty popular. It's a way for restaurants to sell a good product if they don't have time to make it." And a good way for Sugarsnap to make some extra cash.

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Bristol native Dan Palmer worked for TGIF, the Perry Group and the Ice House before coming home to roost, er, roast. After a stint at the Bobcat Café, he's opening a joint of his own - aptly named Dan's Place - in the Main Street spot that used to be Reggie's Tavern. "I'm very excited, very nervous, and about ready to go into therapy," the new business owner admits.

What'll Dan's Place be like? "It will be a sports bar," Palmer dishes. "We do have a pool table and a dart board. We'll have some outside seating. And we'll have 11 or 12 items on the menu that will all be $10 or less - bar food done right." Eventually, he says, he'll serve lunch, too.

The spot will be open pretty late for small-town Vermont. "We'll be open until 11 or 11:30 at night," Palmer says. "But we won't be open till 2 a.m., I'm too old for that." There'll also be live entertainment on Saturday.

According to Palmer, "Bristol is a destination. There's entertainment Thursday at the Bobcat, Friday at Bristol Bakery and Saturday at Dan's."

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Unless Burlington's South Enders venture north to downtown or onto Shelburne Road, they don't have many eating options. But soon they'll have one courtesy of Jack O'Brien, who used to co-own Red Square and Club Metronome. O'Brien - who lives in the 'hood - is opening a new eatery and organic market where the Springflower Market is now, at the intersection of St. Paul and Howard streets. O'Brien says the place will "provide really good, clean food that is locally grown and raised for that community." The staff will be cooking and baking, too. "We're gonna make fantastic food that's not going to be expensive. It's gonna be something really different," O'Brien promises.

What about the market's current Azerbaijan-born owners? "They are the sweetest people and they're like family to me," he says. "We're going to do this together."

Although the place is slated to open in early June, O'Brien isn't ready to divulge all the details of his new business. His former bar business partner, Mark Gauthier, is a partner in Colchester's Big Chile Republic.

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