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More Bite Than Bark

Side Dishes: A defunct Shelburne eatery sees new life as Barkeaters


Published January 25, 2011 at 6:10 p.m.

The Shelburne space that housed Bistro Sauce has been resurrected as an Adirondack-themed restaurant serving gussied-up American comfort food.

Last fall, owners Jack and Carolyn Kovac and Jennifer Sinclair purchased and gutted the defunct restaurant at 97 Falls Road; they reopened it in mid-January as Barkeaters Restaurant. The 60-seat interior is decorated with odds and ends such as snowshoes and an old canoe behind the bar. “We pretty much love vacationing in the Adirondacks and that whole lodgy Adirondack feel,” says Sinclair, formerly co-owner of Colchester’s Clover House Restaurant.

At the kitchen’s helm is Barbara Cote, most recently the chef at Links on the Lake Restaurant in Alburgh. Her menu has “a little bit of everything,” says Sinclair. That includes hot sandwiches, salads and grouper tacos at lunch; blueberry pancakes, French toast and breakfast wraps on Saturday mornings; and a Sunday brunch spread with a choice of five “Bark Benedicts.” One is built on a crab cake; another is served atop prime rib with chipotle hollandaise sauce.

During dinner, early adopters have been ordering lamb lollipops — an appetizer of grilled lamb, Vermont chèvre and arugula pesto — as well as two entrées: espresso-crusted pork tenderloin, and lobster-and-crab-crusted haddock.

The Kovacs are oenophiles, and Barkeaters’ wine list has 16 selections by the glass — including two sparkling wines — as well as several by the half bottle. The cellar list is heavy on heartier reds and full-bodied whites.

Five Vermont beers are on tap, and the bottle selection includes a Flemish sour ale called Rodenbach Grand Cru.

The term “barkeater,” a literal translation from the Mohawk, has sometimes been used as a slur against Native Americans, but Sinclair resists that association. Instead, she calls it a symbol of self-reliance. “It’s a name for Indians [who] used to live off the land and eat bark,” she says. “That’s our whole thing.”

Compared with the traditional winter sustenance of last resort, the fare at Barkeaters seems pretty refined.