Thursday, March 24, 2011

The (new and improved?) Bluebird Tavern

Last night Danielle and I went out to the Bluebird Tavern. This wasn’t just our usual weekly get together, though – this was a special occasion? Why was it so special, you may ask? I passed my thesis defense yesterday!!!! (A little overkill on the exclamation marks, I know, but I just can’t help myself, I am so excited). You may not really care about my thesis and whether I graduate on time or not, but let me tell you, it matters a lot to me and I am telling anyone who will listen. Okay, it is out of my system now.
So, dinner. I don’t think I have mentioned before that the chef at the Bluebird changed a few months ago – it was kind of a shock, because the menu was so popular and Aaron Josinksy was nominated for a James Beard while working there, plus he had a recipe featured in a Tasting Table email – his leaving the Bluebird was big gossip in the local Burlington foodie world. He went on to do a temporary stint at the Top Notch Resort and Spa; I don’t know how he was received there. Michael Clauss replaced Josinsky. I hadn’t dined at the Bluebird since the turnover, and I have to admit I was concerned. My previous few experiences there were so good, it was going to be hard to live up to them
All and all, the two chefs came out about even in my book – I kept score. The cheese board was prettier than ever, and just as delicious (the kumquat preserve and raw honey were both really nice accompaniments, too) – so that was a point in the favor of Clauss. However, I did not enjoy his new way of preparing the mussels – an almost curry-like, spicy, creamy sauce. I much preferred Josinsky’s more traditional garlic and wine-based broth to be sopped up with Red Hen Baking Co. grilled bread, so point for him. The French fries were pretty much the same – yummy – so even scores there. And thank God Clauss didn’t mess with the ketchup. Since I have already spent time singing its praises, today I’ll simply say – it is awesome. So sweet. So tangy. Great texture. Right, I’m done. So, another even score there. The wine selection was just as good as ever, as was the specialty drinks menu (Danielle had “Sugar on Snow” – a ball of crush ice floating in bourbon, served with a little pitcher of pure maple syrup to pour over. Only in Vermont). Finally, since this was a celebration and all, I felt the need to order dessert – a walnut pie topped with maple ice cream. It was good, of course – very, very sweet – but not outstanding, as has usually been the case with dessert at the Bluebird (good but not super memorable)…with the exception of that olive oil cake I had a while back. Remember that? Soooo good. Wow, it’s a good thing its almost lunch time as I write this.
I am disappointed to admit that the service was seriously lacking last night, which is very unusual for the Bluebird. It took a very long time before our waitress came over to even take our drink orders, and then our meals took quite awhile as well. Usually, the atmosphere and excellent service are part of what makes the Bluebird Tavern standout, but last night that wasn’t really the case. Despite that pitfall, it was still a great evening. Delectable food, a good friend, and the weight of the world lifted from my shoulders – what more could a girl ask for?

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