Vermont’s southeast corner just got a food-friendly facelift: A long-planned community-supported restaurant opened this week, and the historic Miss Bellows Falls Diner will soon be back in business.
In Putney, the Gleanery restaurant opened officially on December 10, though a string of special events throughout the fall had already given neighbors a taste of the high-end fare of chef Ismail Samad, formerly executive chef at the Wilmington Inn.
Last summer, Samad whetted the community’s appetite for the eatery by “foraging” at the Putney Farmers Market and cooking up and selling the ingredients he found on the spot. Concurrently, he and partners Liz Ehrenberg and Alice James collected shares from community members to renovate the restaurant; supporters have three years to spend those shares.
Central to the Gleanery’s mission is collaborating with local farms: “If they grow it, we will cook it,” Ehrenberg writes on the Gleanery’s website. So far, the kitchen is grabbing meat, veggies and grains from Sweet Tree Farm in Dummerston and Westminster’s Harlow Farm, among others, and cheeses from as far away as the von Trapp Farmstead in Waitsfield.
All of that booty is woven into the Gleanery’s sample menu, with starters ranging from a farro and spinach salad with fig dressing and chèvre fritters to a “scallop duo” (one seared with apple purée, the other made into an orange-basil ceviche). The kitchen gathers Vermont cheeses — such as Jasper Hill Farm’s Bayley Hazen Blue and Lazy Lady Farm’s Tomme Delay — on a $13 cheese platter, and turns out entrées such as local lamb meatballs over pappardelle, sautéed skate with fried egg and black-pepper gnocchi, and Humane Veal Two Ways — a strip loin with cider-braised celeriac alongside braised veal poutine.
Up the road in Bellows Falls, the Miss Bellows Falls Diner — closed since June — is expected to reopen this month, according to an Associated Press report that appeared as far away as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Last summer, Alisha and Brian McAllister purchased the cozy, 80-year-old diner, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1983. The McAllisters already know a thing or two about dining — they run Father’s Restaurant in nearby Westminster.
Located at 133 Main Street in Putney, the Gleanery is open for dinner from Friday through Sunday. The Miss Bellows Falls Diner is situated on the northern edge of Bellow Falls at 90 Rockingham Street.