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The morning after: Montpelier

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The Coffee Corner

This might be the most mini capital, but these Montpelier breakfast spots make big statements.

By Marialisa Calta

Folks used to joke that Montpelier, Vt.—with 8,000 residents, the nation’s smallest capital—rolled up its sidewalks at 9 p.m. Not so: The city’s nightlife is growing and lively. But there’s still a contingency of hardcore “morning people,” early risers who percolate through the two main streets of town on a morning run or bike ride. Perhaps it’s Vermont’s rural legacy—all those 4 a.m. milkings!—or the early-bird ethic of its citizen legislators, but the breakfast trade is bustling.

CAPITOL GROUNDS CAFÉ AND ROASTERY, 27 State St.

This is the place for those who think breakfast is all about the coffee. At 6:15 a.m. this café-cum-coffee roaster begins serving its fresh-roasted coffee and simple breakfast offerings: breakfast sandwiches, yogurt parfaits with house granola and homemade muffins, as well as bagels and croissants. Owner Bob Watson offers two dozen brews, many of them organic, fair-trade, shade-grown and bird-friendly, including three “signature” blends: House (medium breakfast blend), Senate (powerful but smooth) and Woodchuck (the local sobriquet for a native Vermonter, like Watson, and a hearty, medium-dark roast.) Sizes are—wait for it—conservative, moderate, liberal and radical, which enables the consumer to ask for a “liberal Senate” or a “conservative House.” Radical woodchucks unite!

THE COFFEE CORNER DINER, 83 Main St.

A restaurant has anchored the corner of State and Main since 1937, drawing customers into the city’s epicenter. Purchased in 1994 by current owner Bryan Mitofsky, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, the Coffee Corner became a founding member of the Vermont Fresh Network, an organization that links local farmers and chefs. Thus, Mitofsky’s hash-house menu (waffles, eggs over easy, home fries, bacon) boasts a list of more than a dozen local farms and producers who supply the fresh ingredients. Vegetarians clamor for the Scrambled Tofu, while carnivores crave the homemade corned beef hash. The French toast is even made with bread from a bakery a block away. Doors open at 6:30 a.m., and breakfast is served through closing, at 3 each afternoon.

KISMET, 207 Barre St.

It can be hard to wait until 8 a.m., when tiny Kismet opens its doors and begins serving its inventive cuisine.  Touted on the menu as “intentionally delicious,” Kismet’s food is thoughtfully sourced from local and faraway farmers who respect the land and the people who work it. Meats and produce might come from Vermont, but the rice is from a cooperative in Arkansas, the sugar from a collective in Florida, the salt from Maine. If the cynic in you wants to poke fun at an establishment that serves organic hemp milk (along with cow and soy milk) go right ahead, but one taste of the huevos rancheros (black beans, root vegetables, crispy polenta topped with salsa, eggs, hot sauce and raw milk cheddar) will have you poking food into your mouth instead. Ditto the satisfying array of crêpe dishes, filled with eggs, chicken, yogurt or cheese and accented with lemon cream, hollandaise or pistou. The coffee is strong and hot, but don’t dis the roasted dandelion root latte with maple syrup. •

 


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