195 Falls Road, Shelburne,
Chef Hats: 4.5
Cuisine: Local Market Cuisine
When it comes to believing that we hold the best restaurants and chefs in Montreal it can be said we are foodie snobs. Let me shed some light on this matter. In a small town called Shelburne in rural Vermont about 180 kilometers from our big city and 20 minutes from Burlington, Vermont. You will find three establishments in a triangle formation in the center of town that form a force as strong as the Bermuda triangle that must be capitulated to when it comes to talent in chefs and food culture.
On a recent weekend visit to my sister’s in Shelburne, Vermont to see her new abode, she was eager for the Foo Foodie to experience the culinary delights of her new town. She surprisingly planned on Sunday morning breakfast and a visit to Rustic Roots and Chef Contos kitchen. In this yellow house on quiet Falls Road you will find Chef Mike Orfan a charcuterie specialist creating some of his signature dishes.
Orfan left his longtime position as Chef de cuisine at Rat’s Restaurant in Hamilton, New Jersey to buy this little gem of a house which was previously known as the Lemon Peel Café & Crêperie in fall 2012, which he re named Rustic Roots in June 2013. Serving his signature Rustic Breakfasts ,lunches and weekend diners all made from scratch with local products, he wanted has brought his talents to this sleepy town in the Green Mountain state.
Not knowing what to expect this balmy yet powdery March Sunday morning in Vermont. I entered Rustic Roots dining room to the aromas of delicious maple scents. Its burnt sienna painted walls with multiple framed pictures of teapots emanating a warmth and comfort to warm up any soul. At the entrance I spotted a long bar filled with patrons enjoying their morning coffee and chatting quietly. On the right the small dining room was already brimming with families and couples having their deliciously aromatic indelible breakfast.
We were greeted by a young, fashionably dressed and very pleasant and friendly waitress who brought us to our table. The restaurant was busy and buzzing with activity already for a quiet Sunday morning in such a small town .I wondered where all these people were from and how they got to know about it. Was this a secret hiding spot for the towns locals on a cold spring morning or did they all have a sister who lived nearby and gave the secret away about this gem of a place?
Whatever it was, I was enthralled to be experiencing yet another fine restaurant in the heart of Shelburne and eager to be awed by flavors of Mike Orfan’s cuisine. I was happy and overjoyed at the fact that I knew a secret and I no longer had to be sitting at the local IHOP with the rest of the Quebecers eating a generic breakfast after my weekend shopping spree in Vermont; which was usually what we opted for in the past.
On the Menu at Rustic Roots you will find first and foremost Orfan’s signature Rustic Breakfast which consists of his original take of what brought him to Vermont , Smoky Canadian ham or bacon , Sweet coffee maple sausage a throwback from his Charcuterie days and two creamy scrambled eggs or of your choice and a decadent crisp, puffy popover spread with herbed butter, just heavenly and divine for this cold morning. This is a must for all first time visitors. The scrambled eggs and popover unlike no other I have ever tasted.
Not to miss their Omelets with wild mushrooms, truffles, Shelburne farm cheddar cheese and a brioche triangle toast on the side. If you are a fan of mushrooms, this is the dish for you. This was my brother in law and the Foo foodie’s route this morning and he can do no wrong when it comes to anything fungi because he is the mushroom expert and I am not kidding when I say this.
He taught me something this morning, as in the past the only time I got to taste anything truffle was in an oil form that we can find drizzled on top of some dishes here in Montreal. But for the first time in my life I really got to experience the taste of real truffles in their splendor, mixed in with the wild mushrooms the flavors were accentuated twofold. As my brother in law explained, it was the truffles I tasted with their strong flavoring and scent. These woodsy morsels just exploded on my palate, absolutely delicious and decadent. I truly enjoying and savoring every bite.
Frenchie and the Boys had the Baked Caramel Apple Pancake, made with Dulce de Leche (Caramel), topped with caramelized apples in Maple syrup and whipped cream. This is no regular pancake it is huge and you better have a good appetite. It is about half inch high pancake that is heavenly sweet with all its accoutrements, fluffy and perfectly cooked inside and completely filling and satisfying, especially with all the fresh local Vermont maple syrup added.
All Rustic Roots breakfasts are served with a side order of caramelized onion and herbed potatoes that alone are not only delicious, but are an added perk and a compliment to all the fresh meals served here for breakfast. All breakfast dishes cost between $9.00 $ 12.00- USD which is not only very reasonable for the quality and craftsmanship behind them but a fantastic deal.
Rustic Roots also serves a light lunch fare of soups, salads, sandwiches and sweet crepes and weekend dinners only starting at 6pm on Saturday and Sunday. Brunch is served from (9 am to 3 pm) from Wednesday to Sunday and the restaurant is closed on Monday & Tuesday.
In such a short time from its opening, it has already won acclaimed reviews and is making it mark on the Vermont food scene as a place to experience. I was wowed by its simplicity and warmth but also in its innovative twists that the Breakfast places of Montreal have yet to master. I am already yearning to return to try out their lunch and dinner specials. I am sure they will garnish five stars in that area too.
Chef Contos Kitchen
65 Falls Rd,
Next door a hop and skip away from Rustic Roots, in a blue house you will find Chef Contos Kitchen & Store.
A small gem of a place selling specialty products for the kitchen and a cooking school teaching cooking classes to local Vermonters and beyond,. Started by Courtney Contos, “whose love affair with all things culinary began at a young age in Chicago”. Chef Contos has been teaching since 2000. Her excitement in the kitchen is contagious and this is one of the ways her passion sparkles”. Contos is passionate about local and organic foods, supporting local farms in many ways. You will find her recipes celebrated by many including the Vermont Cheese Council and Culture Magazine. The latest being in March 2015 issue of Food & Wine showcasing her famous Tacos al Pastor recipe.
“Growing up among Chicago’s culinary masterminds, her inspiration for the gourmet cuisine was instilled in her by her father at Chez Paul in Chicago (1948-1992). It was through her father’s that she began to develop a true understanding of the restaurant business. She obtained her culinary arts degree (1996-1998) from Chicago’s Kendall College, which lead her to an internship & a full time chef position at Charlie Trotter’s restaurant. She has tested recipes for Martha Stewart’s magazine “Every Day Food” (2002).has been a culinary instructor at The Chopping Block Cooking Schools in Chicago (2003-2006) ,Kendall College and executive chef instructor for Cook Academy at the Essex Resort & Spa 2006-2010.
In 2006, she started her own blogs “Edible Moments” and “Eat Out Vermont” as well she wrote the very first “Cooking Fresh” article in Edible Green Mountains Magazine and Cookbook. Contos has produced and appeared on numerous TV cooking segments, on Vermont Public Television and WCAX Channel 3. She also reports on national food news on two radio stations FOOD52’s & WVMT, reporting food news the second Monday of every month.
Besides all this, she also keeps busy travelling to Yucatan taking people on culinary vacations, teaching and picking up the latest recipes and bringing them back home. If time allows I strongly suggest taking one of her classes, my sister highly recommends it. They are refreshing and fun. This is a great way to meet new people and experience something totally different from the landscape of what is being offered in the culinary schools of Montreal. You will get a personal rural feel of the local produce, culture and people.
Chef Contos store carries everything one can possibly want and more pertaining to kitchen cookware and gadgets. Products and items are of the best and finest quality. You will find some surprises and cute knick knacks l to take back home or give as gifts. I totally loved the place and last month almost applied for a job there when she was looking for part time help. But that means that The Foo Foodie would have to move to Vermont. Maybe one day cause I am totally in love with the place.