by Tricia Kennedy
Tucked back from the traffic of Williston Road in South Burlington is the sunny, nautical themed Windjammer Restaurant. Don’t be fooled by the large size; it’s been locally owned and operated for 37 years and according to General Manager Dan Phelan, “prides itself on delivering consistently high-quality food.” The menu is a meat-lover’s paradise, with all meats house-butchered and aged.
When my husband and I ventured out on a Saturday night, we were pleasantly surprised by the friendly atmosphere of both the Windjammer and its upstairs counterpart, the Upper Deck Pub. We were dressed up for a night without the kids and a neighboring party was wearing tie-dye. Either look seemed appropriate. Our server at the Windjammer was down-to-earth and attentive and quick to suggest a favorite Merlot for my husband and a split of Prosecco for me. Other libations include the Maple Manhattan, Smuggler’s Martini, and a variety of American craft beers including The Alchemist’s Heady Topper.
When I “checked in” to the Windjammer on Facebook, a friend reported that she “loves the salad boat” and we were delighted to find the salad bar with over 40 offerings accompanying our entrees. I hunkered down with a homey salad consisting of crispy fresh greens, cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumber slices, bacon, sunflower seeds, and homemade dill ranch dressing. My husband discovered a bowl of fresh jalapenos and planned his salad accordingly. Be sure to check out the selection of Cabot cheddar cheeses, assorted crackers, chutneys/jams and warm, pillow-like breads.
As a lover of all things fried, I convinced my husband to test out the corn fritters for a starter. The six fritters appeared heavy but surprised us with the perfectly greased crust and delicate insides. Accompanied by a mild spiced honey and pecan butter, they were sizzling hot and reminded us of gourmet corn munchkins. The appetizer menu is teeming with delicacies from the sea including raw oysters, escargot, and calamari with marinara, banana peppers, scallions, parmesan cheese, and a balsamic reduction.
For the main course, my husband enjoyed a grass fed rib eye from Vermont Family Farms. Commenting that it was “one the best steaks” he’s ever had, it was cooked to tender perfection and he sopped it up with a side of creamy mashed Yukon gold potatoes. I enjoyed a special: a 1.5 lb. lobster, accompanied by drawn butter, lemon slices, and in true Vermont style, served on a bed of kale.
The Windjammer has an “ocean to table” philosophy that draws on largely sustainably harvested seafood from Boston and assures diners of maximum freshness and quality. So enthused by the lobster I was enjoying, I nearly forgot about the chive, horseradish and cheddar twice-baked potato that was waiting for me on the side.
The dessert menu is not to be missed, with delicacies including perfectly caramelized Tahitian vanilla bean crème brulee, flourless chocolate sin cake, homemade ice cream, and Philly style cheesecake. With the exception of the New York prepared cheesecake, everything is house made. The Windjammer offers good news for diners who are feeling full; many of the desserts are offered in “petite” size; the perfect sweet ending to a satisfying meal.
The Windjammer relies on locally available produce and proteins whenever possible and frequently highlights them in daily specials. Executive Chef and New England Culinary Institute graduate Chris Lassy is celebrating his one year anniversary with the Windjammer after a culinary background as Executive Chef at Three Tomatoes, Jay Peak, and Duino Duende. General Manager Dan Phelan notes that Lassy, only the fourth Executive Chef in the restaurant’s history, is part of the Windjammer family. It’s clear to returning diners that after 37 years in business, the welcoming atmosphere and top-notch food are what brings customers back time and time again.
The Windjammer is located at 1076 Williston Road in South Burlington. The dining room is open for lunch Monday-Saturday 11:30am-2:30pm, dinner Monday-Saturday 5-10pm and Sunday 5-9pm. The Upper Deck Pub is open Monday-Saturday 11:30am-11:30pm and Sunday 2:30-10pm. Check out the menu and make a reservation online at www.windjammerrestaurant.com or (802) 862-6585.