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Kilgore Café Opens in Montgomery Center

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Kilgore Café - COURTESY OF KILGORE CAFÉ
  • Courtesy Of Kilgore Café
  • Kilgore Café

When chef Derek Barker returned to Vermont from Costa Rica two months ago, he headed to Trout River Traders in Montgomery Center for a cup of coffee. He found the old trading post closed. Barker, who was looking for a job, decided to make one instead. In July, he'll open a market-driven café and market in the old building.

With help from pastry chef Sara Hansen and front-of-house manager Seth Kirschner, Barker's Kilgore Café will serve fresh, hyperlocal cuisine for breakfast and lunch, with an abundance of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

The menu will change frequently based on the produce offered by local farms and foragers. Sample dishes include mushroom-and-myrrh soup with red clover; shaved-fennel salad with sun-dried tomatoes and feta; and vegan "pulled pork" made with spaghetti squash slow-simmered in barbecue sauce. Sandwiches and burgers will also be on the menu.

"Everything will be made from scratch from food sourced nearby," promises Barker, with no multiple-ingredient foods from outside Vermont — "no exceptions." To stretch ingredients beyond the growing season, Barker plans to can, ferment and pickle seasonal produce — and sell the results in the retail shop.

Hansen will whip up creative cakes, tarts and other pastries. Since graduating from the New England Culinary Institute, she has baked at Junior's Italian in Colchester and at Jay Peak Resort.

Barker says he hopes to channel a community vibe; in addition to offering sit-down meals, he's outfitting the building's second floor with sofas, board games and Wi-Fi for folks who want to sit with their coffee.

In a techie twist, the café is going digital with its menus. Rather than printing bills of fare, Barker will upload his menus so guests can peruse the offerings via smartphone. (He'll provide tablets for those without their own devices.) The chef will be able to update his menu in real time, provide images of the food and link to the farms behind the fare. Guests can then review and comment on the dishes via social media.

For now, Kilgore Café will be BYOB, but Barker is looking for a brewer to make beer on-site. He's also making syrups for soft drinks, which he'll pour through the trading post's 1920s-era soda fountain.

Barker hopes to open for keeps in mid-July. Meanwhile, he's planning a chef's-table meal for the night of July 4. Prospective guests can score a seat by offering items for barter. For instance: "If someone had a display case that they wanted to get rid of," Barker says, "they could bring it, and we'll make them dinner." Look for updates at kilgorecafe.com.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Breakfast (and Lunch) of Champions"

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