The new sign at 716 Pine Street in Burlington's South End looks like the marker for a National Forest: dark brown wood, pine tree and a name evocative of wide-open spaces: the Great Northern. But the small print — reading "food" and "drink" — reveals that this is not a natural wonder but a new restaurant.
The Great Northern opened on Mother's Day in the space previously occupied by South End Kitchen. The place is something of a man-made wonder: an industrial-size room softened by architectural features such as interior clapboard siding and a wooden arch flanking a trio of mirrors. A mega leather banquette stands before a stone fireplace, and a cast-iron lighting fixture hangs from patterned beams.
The restaurant is run by husband-and-wife team Frank Pace and Marnie Long, who own the business with partners from neighboring Zero Gravity Craft Brewery. Pace, the chef, is a fixture of the Burlington restaurant scene who has worked at Smokejacks, Healthy Living Market & Café, Guild Fine Meats and the Spot. His bar food, featuring housemade sausages, is available at Zero Gravity.
At the Great Northern, Pace has put together a menu that reflects the name of the business, riffing on Scandinavian fare such as fermented vegetables and salmon tartar. There's also a nod to Asian cuisine and a raw bar.
At brunch on day one, we chose eggs Benedict and a softshell-crab sandwich. The eggs were runny, always a good sign. The crab legs, dressed with spicy aioli and kimchi, crept over the edge of the roll. Servers were so attentive that three different people attempted to clear our dessert plates before we'd used them.
The Great Northern is open Monday through Saturday for breakfast through dinner service, with brunch only on Sunday.