The Bristol Bakery & Café — in Hinesburg? Apparently the original Main Street establishment has proven so successful, partners Doug and Kevin Harper decided to export the idea 14.4 miles north. The town of Hinesburg is growing — and so is its appetite for home-cooked breakfast.
No fewer than three employees were ready to take our orders on a recent Saturday morning. My 11-year-old son loves restaurants with counter service — which means speedier meals and no waiting through the tedious bill-paying process — but there's a downside, too: He and his twin sister can take an eternity choosing their food.
As the counter help periodically asked if we were ready, my kids considered every item on the menu boards and contemplated the merits of each baked good in the display case. Pancakes or cinnamon bun? Onion bagel or breakfast burrito?
Such delicious decisions have vexed Bristolites since the cafe opened on Main Street in 1977. Now it's Hinesburg's turn; the sister eatery has been open on Hinesburg Road, aka Route 116, since May.
Just seconds before my husband and I collapsed in a caffeine-deprived heap, the kids finally ordered. My son decided on a three-egg omelet with bacon, sausage and cheddar ($7), and my daughter chose a maple-walnut cinnamon roll ($2.45) with home fries ($2). My husband ordered the brioche French toast ($6), while I went with a bowl of country oatmeal cooked with dried apricots and cranberries, topped with toasted almonds and Vermont maple syrup ($5). There's no kids menu here, but there are plenty of options for small appetites, including single eggs and peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.
The bakery was doing brisk business that morning, but the spacious dining area still had plenty of seats available. Tables and booths easily accommodate parties of six as well as singles who come to read the newspaper over breakfast. Two walls of windows afford every seat in the house great views of Hinesburg's rolling hills.
I expected a long wait for our meals, considering the café was fairly busy and new. But an industrious manager had the place running like a well-oiled machine. Our food was out in half the time it took us to order it.
My son was impressed with his picture-perfect omelet. His only complaint was the serving size: Three eggs were a bit much. My bowl of steel-cut oatmeal was equally attractive, but far too hot — the porridge reached an eatable temperature just about the time everyone else at the table was bussing their dishes. Also, it needed more maple syrup. But the apricots and cranberries lent the dish welcome bursts of tartness.
Meanwhile, my latte was barely lukewarm. Ditto for my daughter's maple-walnut roll, a nice, buttery pastry that needed to be warmer than room temperature.
The best breakfast of the bunch? My husband's French toast. Tasting it, I felt like Goldilocks finding her "just right" breakfast. The light, eggy brioche made for a soft and creamy dish, like a breakfast bread pudding with just the right amount of cinnamon. Covered in Vermont maple syrup, it was divine.
Next time I'll order that and a latte — extra hot.
Craftsbury Common, VT
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