The road to New York City runs in both directions. That’s how Montpelier’s Three Penny Taproom landed its new chef: The aptly named Brett Champlain, 29, is a former line cook at The Spotted Pig and sous-chef at The John Dory, both acclaimed Big Apple restaurants owned by April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman.
Champlain says he came to Vermont seeking “a change of pace from the city.” He planned to leave kitchen work behind, at least for a bit. But the excitement of utilizing local ingredients got the better of him. “Walking through the farmers market, you see a lot of really good stuff, but I didn’t see a lot of inspiring food [at restaurants] here in town,” says Champlain, who was frequenting the Three Penny to watch the Tour de France when he decided to return to the kitchen. “I looked up at the chalkboard [menu] every day for three weeks and just saw olives and nuts,” he recalls. “I thought, ‘These guys deserve better food.’”
As of last Thursday, Champlain began dishing up “gastropub” fare Tuesday through Saturday beginning at 4 p.m. The available plates — most of them under $10 — change daily depending on available ingredients. Last week he offered rabbit cooked in duck fat and pressed, rolled pig’s head and lots of homemade pickles. According to bar co-owner Scott Kerner, “The reception has been great,” although he acknowledges that not everybody “gets it.”
Another development at the Three Penny: beer and cheese pairings. The taproom’s first will be held on September 13, with cheeses aged at The Cellars at Jasper Hill and a variety of artisan brews. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a seat.