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Side Dishes: Burlington’s “gastropub” opens this week

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This Saturday, Vermonters will finally be able to answer a burning question: “What the *$%& is a ‘gastropub’?” On the Fourth of July, Riverside Avenue’s Bluebird Tavern, dubbed “Burlington’s gastropub” by its staff, will open its doors with a “Double Burger Bash” in honor of the holiday.

The party, featuring double-patty sandwiches and a smattering of other menu items, will run from 1 p.m. till 7. “We’ll sort of keep it simple,” says owner Sue Bette, noting that there will be 12 brews on tap, 12 wines by the glass and “a few specialty wine cocktails. Funky stuff.”

The resto will start dishing up its regular menu the next day and stay open seven days a week. When asked what kinds of fare patrons can expect, Chef Aaron Josinsky — former sous-chef at Shelburne Farms — plays coy. “Good God, I have no idea,” he responds. But, when pressed, he trots out an inventive list: “Pork cracklin’s, just ’cause they’re delicious … We’re playing around with bone marrow … oysters.” If “bone marrow” puts you off a bit, keep in mind he’ll also serve poutine, lamb ribs, and lots of farm-fresh eggs.

Vegetarians aren’t out of luck. The Bluebird will offer fresh pastas and plenty of vegetables from various farms in the nearby Intervale. And the food, whether meaty or meat-free, won’t break the bank. Expect entrées to remain under $20, with “snacks” priced anywhere from $3 to $7.

A “gastropub,” by the way, is an eatery that offers high-quality beer and fare without all the fuss attached to fine dining. “There are lots of ways you can dine here,” Josinsky notes. “It’s all of the same attention to detail and technique; it’s just that we’re keeping it real. We’re losing the tablecloths and working a little bit lower on the animal.”

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