Cat lovers and cyclists don't always overlap. But for those mad about both, the Hilton Burlington will soon be quite an attraction. On June 1, the hotel will officially open the Mounted Cat, billed as a "new kind of biker bar."
Recent hotel visitors will have noticed the restaurant area's drastic remodeling, completed earlier this year, which features local slate and colorful handblown glass. The recent wintry, wet weather slowed progress on the Mounted Cat's outdoor "cat-io" to a crawl, but general manager Jeff Webb says he's confident that the outdoor seating will be completed by Memorial Day weekend.
If the cool weather persists, al fresco diners will be able to warm themselves by a fire trough and fire pit while enjoying local drinks and small plates. The Hilton will supply ample bike parking, as well as bike rentals and valet parking just for cyclists.
The Mounted Cat is still in its soft-opening stages, but on May 6, it debuted its house beer, a Bohemian pilsner crafted by Trapp Lager Brewery. "It's a hoppy pilsner. Bitter with a smooth finish," says Webb. It joins four other beers and one cider — all local — on tap.
The drinks will be paired with chef Hervé Mahe's new menu, which takes some of its flavors from local suds. Though Mahe is a native of France, he says the bulk of the menu is "classic New American."
Tartines served on bread from O Bread Bakery are a focus. One option will come with Blythedale Farm brie and ham, another with baba ghanoush and marinated peppers — each served with a small salad.
Vermont cheeses also figure prominently on the menu in the form of Bayley Hazen Blue mac and cheese and fried, almond-coated Maplebrook Fine Cheese mozzarella. Summer will bring Mediterranean flavors to the bill of fare, including classic steak frites and halibut served with local sauerkraut.
In three or four months, the Mounted Cat will start using a new ordering system in which diners can access the bar's point-of-sale system via tableside iPads, without needing to speak to a bartender or server. Webb says the tablets will suggest beer pairings with food orders and vice versa — and permit guests to play trivia games while they wait. Expect questions on the restaurant's three favorite motifs: bikes, cats and Vermont.