Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Jezebel vs. A Nonna...?

Hello Friends! 

Our first full day in Vermont consisted of nothing but pure and sheer relaxation!  With a side trip into Wilmington for lunch...a quick ride a few blocks over for dinner...and then just vegging, relaxing and a game or two.  Perfect vacation so far! 

Look at this gorgeous morning view out side the condo!  This was about 9am Monday morning...

And this is about 10pm Monday night!  Snowing and gorgeous lights...How absolutely pretty!  We're expected to get 16" by tomorrow...then, Dave and I will go snow shoeing!
But let me tell you about our Lunch and Dinner...
Lunch was at a local eatery called Jezebel's.  Dave and I had dinner there the last time we were in Vermont, which was about three years ago.  We were there with the family - about 8 of us and had a fantastic time.  It used to be a back room in an Ice Cream shop, if memory serves... and the food was great!  They had that night a wild mushroom and brie bisque (unusual, right?!?) that to date in my memory was just about the best soup I'd ever had! 
Sad to say - Hurricane Irene hit Wilmington with such devastation... Very nearly wiped out the charming town... Take a look:
Dots Restaurant - a breakfast favorite for Dave and I... on a normal wintery day

The water, rising... Keep in mind the Deerfield River is usually
many, many feet below that bridge (as you will see in the last photo)
Flood waters roaring in...

For reference - this is the normal level of the Deerfield River!
Dot's is rebuilding and unfortunately 1 1/2 years after Irene, they
are not open yet - but will be!
Keep in mind that Dots is just down the road from Jezebel's ... so the damage there was significant as well (as it was for all of Wilmington!).  For reference - I'm 6' tall... and the water in the restaurant would have been over my head if I could have walked in the door. But happy to say they are open for business!
So Dave and I went in for lunch - Dad recommended it as they have "the best soups and sandwiches".  In we go, excited to try their soup for today and taste a few other goodies.  Jezebel's has a very quaint New England town feel when you walk in the door, and is a perfect place to lunch after an hour of walking the streets of Wilmington and shopping in the stores that are open.
What is the chances....seriously, what are the chances that TODAY.... they have Wild Mushroom and Brie Bisque?!?!?!?!   Are you KIDDING ME?!?!   I nearly passed out, I was so excited.  Now, keep in mind, I'd have tried just about any soup they had...but after THREE YEARS to be able to taste that wonderful memory again... my heart sighed...just a tiny bit.
I just don't know if the dictionary has enough words to describe this most unctuous, flavorful, earthy, creamy bowl of delight.  Every single mouthful explodes with a different flavor...a richness and suppleness that I just haven't found in any other soup I've ever eaten.  I want this recipe.  I need this recipe, frankly. How can I deny my taste buds these flavors?? I don't think I can go another three years with out eating this soup.  Lucky I have leftovers for tomorrow, but what about the next day, and the next??
While we shared our appetizers...I'll say this one was Dave's...as I refuse to give up the soup as MINE.  We ordered the Hummus platter...
Please note that my soup rave should not, by any means overshadow the fantastic flavor of this dish.  There were lovely toasted pita points, cucumber slices, olives and a pile of perfectly flavored hummus, topped with pesto and feta cheese...and anyone who's made or tasted hummus knows that not all is created equal.  I'm horrible at making it, though I do practice and plan to perfect!  This hummus was perfect.  No one flavor over powered the other - creating a amazing blend of a nutty, bean taste.  The pesto and feta cheese add the perfect finishing touch of a flavor boost to really make your mouth happy! Layer the perfect bite, with a slice of cucumber on a pita, the hummus with some feta and pesto...a bit of the greens and an olive... bite...and bite again.  Your mouth will thank you for it.
Now, at this point, Dave and I realize that between the soup and the hummus - we had no need to order anything else... but too late!  We both ordered sandwiches.

At the back ... a classic Rubin.  To the front ... Steak and Cheese with the "works" (peppers, onions and mushrooms). Keep in mind - we now both have half of each of these sandwiches in the fridge for lunch tomorrow - and that thought will keep me in heavenly dreams tonight!
Now, know that I eat Rubin sandwiches very often.  It is a particular favorite of mine...and I can now honestly say, I've had a taste of what is the best Rubin sandwich I've ever tasted.  The corned beef was so tender - seriously if I just laid it on my tongue, it would just melt - no need for chewing.  The thousand island was perfectly blended...the marble rye was toasted exactly as it should have been and the sauerkraut - delicious and not over done as it can be on most sandwiches.  This Rubin highlights the Corned Beef - and does it very, very well! 
The Steak and Cheese, loaded - well, honestly as soon as I saw Dave's Rubin - I wanted to switch.  I am SO glad that I didn't.  The roast beef on this sandwich was cooked perfectly tender.  Yes - I did have a slight complaint...it was a tad salty... but honestly it didn't distract me from the tender meat, crispy but caramelized veggies and cheesy goodness on the still crunchy bread.  No way to pick up this sandwich - you have to eat it with a fork and knife... but you'll be OH so glad you did!!
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention their fresh, hand cut french fries that were perfect...and while they boast an "award winning" cole slaw... it is good, but I wouldn't give it an award.
But that aside .. I'd give them an award for their fabulous food.  So...my ratings for Jezebel's:

So - my ratings:

Food:  A ... I just simply can't justify going any lower.  Even though the meat was salty - I'd order it again!

Price:  We were there for lunch only, and to me it was typical moderate lunch prices... about $10 - $15 for huge entree sandwiches 

Service:  Here is where I go B- ... and I'll tell you why... Our waitress (no, she never told us her name) was efficient, prompt and knowledgeable.  When we arrived, she had 2 people at the bar and a table of four ladies in the dining room ... and she was the only person on the floor.  It didn't help that with in 20 minutes, another two tables came in as well as a few more at the bar.  She was overwhelmed ... as she was waitress, busser, bartender and food runner - she was swamped.  That is the reason why she got a B to begin with - there wasn't any help and she did float the crowd decently.  

However, the 'minus' comes in with regards to attitude - in the service industry, no amount of overwhelming can justify what at times seemed to be curt, unfriendly or flippant answers.  Even as I thought I was being too hard on an obviously stressed server, the table behind us asked a simple question "Is the owner cooking today" to get a swift, nearly snide comment of "not to-daaay".  Even the three of them commented on the attitude of the waitress.   Will it stop me from going back - no.  I understand a restaurant can't predict the busy nature of the day - and at the end of the ski season in Vermont, I'm sure Mondays are the slowest of slow days - so even if they can't staff the restaurant to predict a busy day - the server needs to realize that customer service is... customer service, no matter how busy or not they are.  Their attitude does reflect on the Restaurant as a whole.

Now... after a meal like that - you think 'how on earth can you eat another meal?' 
Easy..only eat 1/2 of your lunch and then take a nap! (or write a few blogs!! lol) The lovely thing about that is - we both have a fantastic lunch for tomorrow (and oh!  We're making Cinnamon raisin bread french toast for breakfast...stay tuned! =)
On another of Dad's recommendations - we are off to Nonna's in West Dover.
A very quaint Italian restaurant on the 2nd floor of the Saw Mill Farm Inn... Dave and I were so pleasantly surprised at the romantic atmosphere and a completely charming Vermont Inn.  Lots of wood and large planked floors - huge fireplaces and plenty of seating right out side the restaurant for the guests to lounge.  If we weren't there to eat, I'd have loved to take a book and sit by the fire.
But dinner awaited us - and we were already 15 minutes late from our reservations due to faulty directions from google maps, and my refusal to call to ask for directions (damn, if I can't get directions from the Internet, why do I have a smart phone?!?). 
We had a delightful dinner.   And yes - we ended up taking 1/2 of our entrees home (which is a good thing... as with the snow predictions, we won't have to go out on Tuesday to eat!).
For starters,  Dave ordered the chef's special bruschetta - Italian bread slices, topped with arugula, artichoke hearts, spinach, Parmesan cheese...  Delightful flavors that mixed very well together and tasted wonderful.  Both Dave and I felt the only change we would have made was make the bread crispier... but it was delicious!
My appetizer was recommended by my dad - a wild mushroom ravioli. 
They were presented in a truffle butter with pine nuts and asiago cheese...a wonderful appetizer - that could really be a meal! The truffle butter was light and not overpowering the natural taste of the pasta and the chunks of earthy, tenderly cooked mushrooms or the saltiness of the cheese.  A truly delightful burst of flavor with every bite!
Between our entrees - Dave's was much better than mine.  Not that mine wasn't good - I just loved the flavors of the Chicken Barbara that he ordered:
The Chick Barbara was pan seared chicken with artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and baby spinach in a white wine, lemon butter sauce... and served along side a fantastic Fettuchini Alfredo.  I don't usually order an Alfredo as it can be very heavy - but this was light and flavorful - simply delicious.  I was particularly loving the acidity of the sauce on the chicken.  Most places say a lemon sauce, but you only get a hint of it...this was strong and bold, yet didn't over power the other flavors of the dish.  I'd order it again with pleasure - and try to make it at home as well!
My dish was very good and very flavorful (it seems that last night I was just more in the mood for tart, not creamy and sweet).  I ordered the Four Cheese Lasagna:
It was a huge portion and really was delicious, with Ricotta, Mozzarella, Parmesan and Romano cheese... the pasta was cooked perfectly al dente and Nonna's Marinara sauce was very good...the sweet tomato flavor was perfectly seasoned.  I did miss the meat - and the menu did give you an option to order it with either Italian sausage or meatballs, which I think would have added a nice texture to the dish overall.
Dessert - Dave always has to have dessert - was chocolate torte with a cup of cappuchino:
The torte was home made and had a perfectly blended flavor of chocolate fudge like cake consistency.  It wasn't has heavy and dense as some tortes can be...and with the raspberry sauce and whipped cream - it was a nice touch to end the evening.
So - my ratings:
Food:  B ... Really delicious - but maybe coming from NY, it was really good Italian food for Vermont.

Price:  Very reasonable!  They had specials that came with a Caesar salad (which was delicious) for 14.95.  Appetizers were around $8-$10 dollars.   

Service: Here is where I go B+ ... interesting enough, Ashley was also alone in the dining room as hostess, server, busser, bartender and food runner... and Yes, there were only four tables - she handled them all with a bright and cheery attitude.  That is a huge difference  

So - is it possible that a Jezebel can outshine a Nonna? In this case... Yes and No!  When it comes to food - Jezebel's took the day with amazing flavors and reinforcing a fantastic memory.  When it comes to service - you know you can always get a friendly smile and cheerful atmosphere at Nonna's.

All in all we had a great, restful, relaxing day.  Going to bed knowing we'd wake up to a fresh snow storm and have a cozy fire and hopefully I'll whip Dave's butt in Backgammon gave me happy dreams!

Until Next Time...


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