Misery Loves CO.
46 Main Street
Telephone: 1-(802) 297-3989
Chef Hats: 5
Cost: Approximately $180 USD for 3 people.
I am ready and looking forward to another year of fun and excellent dining experiences. But in order to do so, I must look back at 2018 best and most memorable dining experience. For me, it was by a longshot a place called Misery Loves Co, located in Winooski, Vermont on a roundabout on Main St. it was not only one of the best experiences, but also the most fun while enjoying an absolutely decadent meal. Picturesque and quaint, its façade is typical of any modern bistros one would find in a big city, except it sits in the center of a small rural town not far from Burlington. The town square and its buildings set up around the Winooski River waterfall and the Mill surely do have a history. The large store front windows bearing the mark of Misery name is seems to be taken out of a page in a history book. Once inside, it is a modern hipster hangout that is unpretentious and exuding at the seams with genuine small-town hospitality. The food is not only delicious, but exceeded on many levels many of Montreal ‘s expensive bistros that I sampled this past year.
Misery Loves Co. is the brainchild of chefs Nathaniel Wade, Aaron Josinsky (formerly from Shelburne Farms and Bluebird Tavern) and Laura Wade. Opened in 2012, it is a modest American style bistro that focuses on cultural comfort foods with some French influences. All meals are made only with local fresh farm to table ingredients. Their approach is a combination of small plates with a variety of seasonal vegetables as well as meat dishes.
Everything at Misery Loves Co. functions like a well-oiled machine with genuine comradery and hospitality. The service is professional, friendly and on the ball. The front of the house has an open kitchen with seating where you can be entertained while the chefs cook your meal. Backboards, vaulted ceilings, candles and festive holiday decor are the main focus of the room and create a pleasant ambiance. The opposite side of the room holds a bar with exposed brick walls and tap decorated with colorful pool table balls adding a whimsical and fun feeling all while indulging in some of the best cocktails and spirits Misery has to offer. At night the bar side gets busy and vibrant, spilling out onto the terrace in the summer. The dining room situated at the back of the house is open only during standard dining hours for families and those alike who want privacy. But the front of the house is where you want to be and is the most electric.
Misery Loves Co. started as a neighborhood place, serving quick meals and comfort food, but over the years has morphed into something bigger, thanks to Josinsky who is quite an experimentalist, visible in each masterful plate he creates. Most of the food is done in house, and he is particular about where he gets his produce. He even cultures his own butter using organic cream from local farms. He fishes his own fish from nearby lakes, infuses honey with blossoms from his own garden and forages with his staff for wild berries.
Like many places on my bucket list, Misery Loves Co. sat there for too long. Six years had passed since it was first referred to me by my sister. So, I was really excited to finally, be able to sample and experience their fine food. After an afternoon of shopping, we headed over for a late lunch, sans reservations. The dining room was closed, but luckily, plenty of seats were available at the bar. So, with much trepidation from my sister we sat down and start perusing the menu while looking around and admiring the place.
We were greeted by a cool thirty-something hipster waiter who handed us the menu and suggested some cocktails. Misery Loves Co. has a great list of custom cocktails and some excellent local craft beers from nearby Four Quarters Brewing. I was feeling particularly courageous and wanted something totally different from my usual martini or glass of wine. He suggested a drink called Death by Rotary for $12.00. Everyone knows how much I love death by alcohol, a fine way to kick the bucket. Made with Elderflower liquor, Prosecco, Pernod and sugar cubes, it contained a beautiful infusion of anise and licorice flavors, it went down real smooth and I was soon having another. When asked about the name, it was explained, it came about after someone died crossing the rotary “the roundabout” in front of the bistro during the turn of the century when the carriage days were still in tow. I really wouldn’t attempt it now.
My sister had a Bianca Percilla for $ 13.00, a mix of Prosecco, Carpano Antica, Gin and chartreuse, she enjoyed her cocktail immensely and loved the flavors an herbal mix of plants and flowers. A nice feeling of warmth overcame us and after a short chit chat with our knowledgeable and friendly barman, we started to peruse the menu. We decided to order most everything on the menu except for the Greens & Herbs and the Fried Oysters. We were told the portions were small but more than sufficient. They were all beautifully presented and original. A good mix of healthy choices as well as classic dishes done a la Vermont with local produce from nearby farms.
We started with a platter of six Beau Soleil Oysters, for $1.00 each, served with lemon wedges, coarse salt and a spicy lemon herbed oil. A perfect aphrodisiac for the start of a decadent meal. Next came the Fresh Cheese Platter at $ 9.00, which was made up of fresh homemade ricotta cheese, drizzled with honey and served with a thin layer of multigrain matzah and raspberries. A beautiful contrast of flavors and the cheese was super silky and fresh.
I ordered a Steak Tartare for $15.00 and a side of fries for $ 7.00. The tartare was made with chopped raw sirloin beef and the usual tartare fixings, topped with grated smoky cheddar cheese and herbs that made this dish mildly pleasant and not overpowering. I don’t usually eat raw meat, but this is the place, I would want to try it for the first time. The dish came served with a side of homemade potato chips that were perfectly crisp and delicious. But I also ordered Fries with Aioli sauce made with Old Bay Seasoning for everyone to partake in and enjoy. We were all surprised with the Steak Tartare even though it is usually not one of our choices while dining out.
For a palate cleanser we received a platter of pickled fermented vegetables for $8.00, consisting of beets, cucumbers, pickles, red cherry peppers, heart of palms, green string beans and pickled red onions slivers. Each marinated and cured in a light vinaigrette. A perfect balance of acidity, spice and crunchiness.
I also ordered Chicken Liver mousse pate for $9.00 to everyone dismay and scoffing, no one wanted to eat chicken liver, but I often make this at home and it was equally delicious here. The plate came with pickled red onions and more of the matzah multi grain cracker. It was silky smooth blend with the right amount of garlic and was delicious all on its own without the crackers and onions.
My sister and my friend were amazed at how much they enjoyed it. Not something they would usually order but a definite for next time. My girlfriend being the literary type she is had to order The Vonnegut for $ 9.00, a perfectly cooked piece of pork belly done Asian style, wrapped in Boston lettuce with a fried egg and a light salsa. A light healthy choice and packed with flavors.
As we were busy scoffing, my sister unbeknownst decided to add two sandwiches to the plethora of dishes we already had eaten. The Mushroom Toast for $13.00, which fed well along her stream of favorites. An open face sandwich served on homemade grain bread, topped with sautéed wild mushrooms and egg. It was a deliciously fresh with deep woodsy flavors of wild mushrooms and an ultra-fresh egg from the local farm.
The last sandwich was one of the best chicken sandwiches I have ever eaten and definitely one of their signature dishes and most often ordered. Called the Rough Francis a $ 11.00. The chicken was tender and juicy and especially spicy with a generous slather of hot wing sauce. The crumble of blue cheese helped a little with putting out the fire, but it was addictive. We had to stop there, not because we were full but because we ran out of options on the menu.
I love, loved Misery Loves Co. it brought me back to the old days where bar dining was fun. I seemed to have hit the Trifecta, good food, fun atmosphere and overall good feeling shared amongst friends and family. These days it is the only reason I go out. If I can’t get those three then its just not worth my time.