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Goin' Clubbing

Side Dish: Vermont National feeds the plebes

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Can't scrape up enough money to join the Vermont National Country Club in South Burlington? That doesn't mean you can't dine there. The VNCC has a new star chef, Mark Timms, and he's cooking up lunches and Sunday brunches that are open to the public. Early next year, he hopes to open dinner to non-members, too.

Timms, who was featured in the International Who's Who of Chefs book in 2004 and won an Iron Chef competition in Atlanta earlier this year, moved to Vermont with his family for the quality of life. He's coming to appreciate the quality of food, too. "People in Vermont give a damn about what they eat," Timms exclaims. "From maple syrup to beets to beef, it's great."

What are we missing? A dose of glitz and glamour, Timms thinks. "When you eat, for that moment you should be transported away from your life and your troubles," he opines.

Which tastes are transporting? At brunch, Timms plans to offer an oyster bar, sushi station and selection of artisanal cheeses, along with the more conventional eggs Benedict and French toast. Pastry chef Marsha Hyatt will make the desserts. The buffet will run $21.95 for adults and $10.95 for youngsters. The lunch menu, on the other hand, is filled with comfort food, such as chicken-noodle-and-matzo-ball soup and a Southern-fried chicken sandwich.

Timms is also experimenting with molecular gastronomy, a hot trend in big cities that has barely made a mark in New England. It's a series of processes in which food is broken down into components and re-formed. At a recent specialty dinner, he paired a serving of tender sea bass with carrot-ginger foam and beet syrup. Another unusual offering: a lamb mousseline "lollipop" alongside a terrine of wild mushrooms and corn.

According to Chef Timms, a good meal should be like "sex on a plate." For a little foreplay, check out his menu at http://www.vermontnational.com.

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