Burlington, Vermont is one of the more pleasant small cities in North America. Home to the United States’ only self-proclaimed socialist senator, it is more progressive than many larger American and Canadian cities. It has an interesting mix of aging hippies, young students, visiting Montrealers, and rural Vermonters. At times, this leads to scenes straight out of the Electric Kool-aid Acid Test.
Away from the pedestrianized centre and closer to Lake Champlain lies Skinny Pancake, an excellent little crepe restaurant that gives a greasy American spin on a Breton classic. Having tried their crepes on many occasions, I have been consistently pleased by the results. You wouldn’t find apples, cheddar and cranberry chutney on a crepe in France, but somehow it works. Nor would you find pulled pork and root-beer BBQ sauce, but why not? They’ve also recently added poutine to their menu, so I figured it was worth another stop.
The menu appeals to the locavore and gourmand sensibilities of Vermonters: russet potatoes from Peaslee’s farm, cheddar cheese curds from Maplebrook Farm, and a homemade beef demi-glace. Finally, here was a poutine that seemed to be done with quality ingredients without any unnecessary extra frills.
Fries: These fries are a bit plain and tasteless. They are curiously spongy, not crispy as they should be. Back to the drawing board. 17/30.
Gravy: The gravy is the best part of this poutine, though it is a little runny and does start to taste a little too salty after several bites. It is rich, unctuous, and does not taste like something that comes out of a pouch or can. 46/50.
Cheese: Though the cheese on this poutine may have been curd-like at one point, it looked like a melted glop when it arrived at our table. It tasted too sharp to be curd cheese, but the sharp taste worked well with the gravy and fries. The quantity is okay, but it shouldn’t be called poutine without full chunks and nice squeak. 7/20.
Verdict: Come for the crepes, not the poutine.
Price: High – $7.95 for a small portion of poutine. The portion is small by Canadian standards and therefore positively microscopic by American standards. Super-size those fries!
Opening Hours: SUN-WED, 8AM-8PM; THU 8AM-10PM; FRI-SAT, 8AM-11PM.
Location: 60, Lake Street, Burlington, Vermont. Also in Montpelier, Vermont. See their website.