- Matthew Thorsen
You could say there's a "French spot" along Route 7 between Middlebury and Ferrisburgh. For years, Christophe Lissarrague served up spectacular French fare in Vergennes. To the south, Roland Gaujac used to cook at the 1796 House, a longtime landmark along Vermont's western corridor.
Roland's Place is now Tourterelle — French for "turtledove" — where Bill and Christine Snell are carrying on the Gallic gourmet tradition. The American chef and his Breton wife left Brooklyn in 2009 to open a little place in Vermont. They've since established relationships with local farmers and are cooking up Vermont products using rustic French techniques.
The elegant setting has France written all over it. Photos of Loire Valley cathedrals adorn the walls, and Christine, who runs the front of the house, directs her staff with a heavy ... accent.
Location Details Tourterelle
Ready to eat? The vegetarian tartiflette is a good place to start — or you can have it as a main course. It's filled with seasonal vegetables and potatoes from local farms, then baked with slices of reblochon cheese. The fromage melts over the vegetables to create a country version of pommes de terre au gratin.
- Matthew Thorsen
In winter, the menu is all about hearty stews. The bean stew — cassoulet — is slowly cooked with ham hocks before a veritable mixed grill of garlicky sausage, duck confit and braised lamb is added to the mix. Boozy-tasting boeuf bourguignon, served with crispy polenta on top, melts in the mouth. Year round, Tourterelle's signature dish is its unconventional bouillabaisse, a fish stew with a base of Thai red curry and a side of saffron aioli.
At dessert, Bill marries American tastes with French in his chocolate-chip bread pudding. The tender pastry is topped with housemade chunky peanut ice cream and sits in a pool of caramel sauce like an enlightened Snickers bar.
Like almost everything on Tourterelle's menu, it's a pleasing blend of Old World and New.