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Rolling in It

Side Dishes: Two new restaurants are all about the dough

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With Christophe’s on the Green gone, Vergennes diners have had to rely on chef Michel Mahe of the Black Sheep Bistro for Gallic flavor. Now Addison County residents can wake up the French way — by snacking on a petit déjeuner of croissants, pains au chocolat or canelés.

On December 3, Julianne Jones and her co-owner and fiancé Didier Murat opened their bakery, café and cheese shop, Vergennes Laundry. The coffee is from Chicago-based Intelligentsia, but the tea comes from closer to home: Middlebury’s Stone Leaf Teahouse. The cut-to-order cheeses are a mix of local — think Twig Farm of West Cornwall — and imported. Murat, owner of Vadeboncoeur Artisanal French Nougat, makes the sweets himself.

For now, the menu is limited to baked goods and simple dishes such as grapefruit with Greek yogurt. By Christmas, Jones says, she expects to offer full breakfast and lunch menus, which will be written on butcher paper and change daily.

In Essex Junction, a location long associated with Asian food now houses a very different concept. Two weeks ago, a pair of retirees, Tim Allard and Lorraine Latorre, opened a pizza-focused restaurant called Upper Crust at 118 Pearl Street, the former site of Pho Phat Tai.

Though neither had owned a restaurant before, Allard says a shared love of food drove them to give the business a try. “It all just seemed to be a good fit,” he says. “We thought it would be a nice addition to what we consider to be Fast Food Row.”

While it may be served to customers quickly, the Upper Crust fare is far from fast food. Once the team had fully refurbished the building, says Latorre, they began conceiving recipes. Today, practically everything is original and made fresh. “The marinara sauce is so good, I took some home the other day and drank it like soup,” avows Latorre. Three other sauces are available: one white and two tomato based.

Pizza is the name of the game, but Latorre, Allard and his wife, Eileen, cook up everything from poutine to pulled pork to hot turkey sandwiches. Home-baked desserts, such as sticky buns and chocolate-chip cookies, cover the front counter — plenty of possible endings to a dinner of fresh marinara, with or without crust.

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