It was a cool, drizzly day, typical weather for April in Burlington, Vermont.
Having walked for several hours thru the UVM campus and up and down Church Street, window shopping, we met our group at Monarch & the Milkweed on Saint Paul Street. How to describe it? Hmm. Pastry shop? Mash up with restaurant? Sort of. On their website, it says Pastry Shop Fine Diner. Sure – we’ll go with that. Quite charming. It was still pretty full, though it was well past 1pm when we arrived. The other members of our group had been waiting and chatting awhile, and the still steamy cups in front of them looked quite welcoming. Maple Latte anyone? Christina, our waitress, quickly noticed we had joined the group and took our beverage orders and handed us menus. It seemed unusual to see scones and muffins on the same menu with fried chicken sandwiches and Caesar salad, but there they were.
I kept it light, knowing I still had several hours of walking planned, so I had tea and a scone. The others in the group went for heartier fare: a stack of pancakes, about the size of a mason jar lid and stacked 5 high. Fried chicken sandwiches served on a house-made roll, Caesar salad, grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup. We chatted, we soaked in the warmth, we enjoyed our various hot beverages served from pottery mugs accompanied by demi-spoons and a small bowl of raw sugar. Everything was delightful, delicious, cute, and/or …vertical. I looked around and most things seems to be stacked high. Like the pancakes, the chicken sandwiches were impressively tall and looked as stable as the leaning tower of Pisa. The hash browns, on the other hand, came in the form of a cube – crispy brown on the outside, hot and tender on the inside.
It was the kind of place where food was not something to just fill your belly, but also to delight all your senses. The dishes, cups, silverware, copper water pitcher, all had a feel that was tactilely pleasing. The white napkins embossed with a gold monarch were heavyweight and high quality paper. Seemed almost too good to toss. I enjoyed my scone and tea, however I immediately had buyer’s remorse when I saw the foods presented to my companions. Everything looked beautiful, and from the intensity in which the four teenagers enjoyed their food, it was all greatly appreciated. Even though everyone declared themselves ‘stuffed,’ once the desert menu came around, it was read with anticipation. Indeed, everyone really was stuffed, so the group split a piece of irresistible chocolate cake, again, about the width and height of a mason jar. It looked like the very center for a tall cake had been removed, with expert care. The only thing that kept the cake from being immediately consumed, was the awkwardness turned politeness produced when you have two sets of teenage siblings meeting each other for the first time. My guess, if it had just been only one set of siblings some major fighting and possible fork stabbing would have occurred over who got to finish the cake.
The food, the service, the tableware, even the floor tile, all reflected choices made, not only with love, but with passion
Monarch & the Milkweed is open seven days a week at 7:30 am, serving breakfast lunch and dinner, most days. They close at 3:30 pm on Monday and Tuesday. Pretty excited that our daughter will be going to UVM this fall. That’s four years for us to visit and enjoy Monarch & the Milkweed.
111 Saint Paul Street, Burlington, Vermont 05401