Middlebury Dishes Up for Restaurant Week

By TAYLOR PHILLIPS

Campus File Photo/ Taylor Phillips
Chef at Morgan’s Tavern at the Middlebury Inn prepares a dish.

From April 26 through May 5, restaurants throughout the state took part in Vermont’s 10th annual Restaurant Week. Participating restaurants developed prix-fixe menus that showcased their chef’s specialties while also benefiting a worthy cause — 10 percent of the annual proceeds go to the Vermont Foodbank. Over the years, the program has gained popularity with foodies and Vermonters looking to find new restaurants, patron old favorites and support an important cause.

Beyond charitable donations, Restaurant Week also benefits local restaurants. “The week brings additional recognition to their establishments and drives more customers through their doors,” said Kylie Perry of Vermont Federal Credit Union, the presenting sponsor of the event. The full list of restaurants participating in Restaurant Week was posted on the Seven Days website and was accompanied by an interactive map that displays the wide variety of participating establishments, allowing customers to easily find a place to eat.

Three Middlebury restaurants participated this year: Morgan Tavern at the Middlebury Inn, Fire and Ice and Noonie’s Deli.

John Zahn, the general manager of the Middlebury Inn, and Head Chef John Hessler have worked over recent months to update the traditional elements of Morgan Tavern, incorporating appetizers and shareable, modern food with rural accents, epitomized by the incredible fish tacos and variety of dishes highlighted in the Restaurant Week menu. Hessler, who previously worked in several culinary establishments throughout the New England area, brings an interest in Asian fusion and dedication to keeping the traditions of the Inn intact while breathing fresh life into the menu.

“Being a part of [Restaurant Week] is really fun for us,” Zahn said. Morgan Tavern’s Restaurant Week menu had special items such as vegetarian rangoons alongside old favorites like their classic New York cheesecake. 

Noonie’s Deli, located in the Historic Marbleworks District, offers a variety of sandwich options for a cheaper, more mobile meal. Originally a mobile-cart sandwich business in Burlington, Noonie’s is a staple in town for delicious, gigantic sandwiches on homemade bread. Their Restaurant Week menu featured fan favorites, including The Vermonter, a tasty combination of ham, cheddar and sliced apple.

Fire and Ice, a restaurant popular for its huge salad bar and cozy atmosphere, offered a full three-course menu. If the weekend dinner crowds were any indication, the offerings were well-received by the community: the restaurant was packed on Saturday and Sunday. Hopefully, Restaurant Week will have introduced this favorite haunt of Middlebury residents and students to new customers.

Many of the participating restaurants chose to highlight locally-sourced ingredients this year, particularly maple flavors. Morgan’s Tavern has made this local affiliation a staple of their service year-round, offering a monthly specials menu entitled “Farm to Table” that is created around local ingredients from a variety of food producers in the area. The restaurant is also focusing on innovative vegetarian options as part of Hessler and Zahn’s mission to appeal to a younger crowd. Part of that mission is making the Tavern a fun place to work. 

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