1 South Main Street, Waterbury, 244-7827
The Reservoir in Waterbury is one of my favorite secrets. While you're all waiting for a brew at the Alchemist, I'm eating a giant burger at the Reservoir (right), where the beers aren't homemade but the drink list is as deep and serious as any aficionado could ask for.
But that's not why I went to the Reservoir. I couldn't resist its $25 Vermont Restaurant Week menu. Only one item appears on the restaurant's regular bill of fare, and I was excited to see the relatively new chef stretch his legs.
My boyfriend started with a bowl of freshly popped popcorn even before we ordered. Since there were only two appetizers and two desserts, we simply ordered one of each and shared.
Though the soup was called a plum tomato and basmati bisque, it was smooth, with the rice presumably blended in as a thickener. It was creamy but retained the acidic brilliance of a fresh, ripe tomato. The sweet and sour tastes were amplified by a balsamic drizzle. On the side, a toasty slice of bread was covered, and I mean covered, in gooey Cabot cheddar.
My second goat-cheese-and-beet salad of Restaurant Week was enormous. This was the only item also on the regular menu, so I was able to marvel at the value — this salad was usually $9.99, almost half my meal price.
It was more creative than your average beet salad, too. The brown things on top (right) are fried parsnip chips, like potato chips but sturdier and sweeter. Roasted golden and red beets were laid across either side of the plate, as were candied-walnut-crusted slices of goat cheese. I didn't think I could possibly finish the big plate, but, with the maple vinaigrette, it was irresistible.
So was my country-fried steak. What I thought at first glance was two medium-sized battered steaks was actually one massive one. It was tender and just thick enough that it still reminded me more of steak than Steak-Umms.
The batter was well-seasoned and acquired even more bite with the addition of peppery gravy containing chunks of McKenzie sausage. The mashed potatoes were suitably creamy and silken, but I had my priorities straight — I ate all of the steak and left most of the mashed.
The same potatoes were also on the plate with the meatloaf, made from PT Farms beef and Sugar Mountain pork. The loaf was roughly ground with chunks of onion, and had a ketchup crust that would make mom proud.
Mushroom gravy with long portabello slices covered the slab of meat. Skinny asparagus stalks were nicely salted and slightly buttery.
We were already full, but dessert was a must.
I started with apple strudel — actually a pair of crisp-edged pie crusts filled with cinnamon-y apples. They arrived at the table piping hot and quickly melted the cinnamon ice cream on top into a sort of crème Anglaise.
When I finished the first half of strudel, we switched plates and dug into the chai panna cotta.
The dominant coconut muted the spices of the tea. The texture was textbook panna cotta, like a sturdy but still soft Jell-O mold.
Big, fresh berries enhanced the tropical taste, which made so much sense on the warm May day. All that for $25 — and I didn't have to wait in line.