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Hatching Plans

Side Dishes: New Bluebird Tavern chef spills the beans

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Last week, Burlington diners were shocked to learn that Bluebird Tavern’s James Beard Foundation Award-nominated chef, Aaron Josinsky, had left the restaurant. Almost as surprising was the announcement of his replacement: Michael Clauss, the Daniel Boulud protégé who gained notice in Vermont when he joined the staff of Burlington’s Daily Planet last year.

Rumors flew that Josinsky had been fired. But Bluebird owner Sue Bette says both Josinsky and his wife, manager Laura Wade, had already given their notice when she contacted Clauss. “Laura and Aaron built a strong foundation,” says Bette. “They have 100 percent support from myself and everyone at the Bluebird. We know they’re going to do great things.”

When reached by phone, Josinsky said he preferred not to comment.

For his part, Clauss has already made some changes. Bette is quick to point out, “Our menu’s always been dynamic and changing, with lots of new things for people to get excited about.” But, with Clauss on board, those nightly updates will soon happen on a newly structured menu.

Oyster options will be expanded to include both hot and cold dishes. A new selection of “tavern-style” dishes will appear on the menu each night, separate from the more refined small and large plates. “Anyone can come in any night of the week and find three or four really cool tavern dishes on the menu,” says Clauss, who will also return mussels to the $10 Tavern Tuesday menu.

For “hunting season,” the restaurant’s menu currently features a Vermont game dinner for two. This week, whole roasted pheasant is the main event, with additional courses that change nightly, including quail ballotine and game sausage.

That won’t be the only new charcuterie Clauss adds. The chef says that, while retaining many of the butcher-board basics, he’ll add terrines and pâtés he learned from Boulud.

Clauss also looks forward to making the Church Street Bluebird Coffee Stop kiosk “more of a satellite” of the Riverside Avenue restaurant. Black Friday shoppers can lunch on hot soup and a choice of three or four sandwiches, which will rotate each day thereafter. The kiosk will offer cookies, the Bluebird’s impossibly dense chocolate pudding and a range of its snacks, from candied-bacon almonds to local pickles.

More places to get bacon almonds? We like this guy already.

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