Before relocating to Shelburne, my husband and I spent many years visiting local family here. Part of the allure of Vermont living was the tantalizing food that seemed to be teeming out of every corner. We could not get enough of the local flavors. While still a CT resident, I read an article in my Food Network magazine detailing the “best breakfasts in the U.S.A”. Turns out Vermont’s top rated dish was from Burlington’s own Penny Cluse Cafe.
Vermont’s best breakfast was a dish called ‘The Penny Cluse’ and consisted of eggs, any style, home fries, biscuits and herbed gravy. The next time my family visited Vermont, I was a girl on a mission.
Let me preface this by telling you I have never been a lover of biscuits and gravy. That is, until I discovered the distinctive green gravy love that Holly Cluse and Charles Reeves, owners, have dreamed up. I have considered asking them to just serve it in a glass so I can drink it straight. Sometimes after a long day, I don’t dream of red wine or a margarita. I dream of gravy shots.
Rich, creamy and spiked with fresh herbs, it’s pure Vermont bliss. Poured in luxurious amounts over the crusty on the outside and fluffy on the inside biscuits, it’s a dream come true. The home fries consist of a generous portion of potatoes of various sizes. If you like big, velvety chunks of potato? You got ‘em. If you’re more of a fan of the thin, crispy bits, you’ll be happy, too. Sweet slivers of onion compliment the home fries. I am a fan of eggs done over easy so I can scoop mouthful after mouthful of biscuit/gravy/home fries with goopy egg all at once. The serving size is enormous and if you can manage to finish it, you will not eat lunch.
My pre-teen niece favors the macaroni and cheese and has been known to order it for breakfast. My brother-in-law chooses the Baja Fish Tacos. For breakfast. It’s that kind of place where you have a favorite dish and it’s just so insanely good that you cannot seem to stray. And at Penny Cluse, it’s totally acceptable to order fish tacos for breakfast.
My son favors a mile-high sandwich consisting of two eggs over hard, cheddar and grilled sourdough and he rotates between the homemade pork sausage and piles of bacon. No ketchup need apply.
My five year old always relies on a fluffy pile of buttermilk pancakes as her comfort food, usually accompanied by a blueberry banana smoothie that is as healthy as it is colorful.
The only one of us, in fact, who ever strays from our signature dish is my bitty three-year old. She’s adventurous and we have all benefitted from trying her latest preference. (Okay, we may have pressured her just a bit into ordering other items. We’re such great parents.) “Her” favorite fall special was the Applebread French Toast. Think homemade applesauce made with local apples and accented with sour cream!
We were all thrilled she ordered this and was willing to share in exchange for spoonfuls of green gravy. Some of Maggie’s other rave review’s have included Mama Cruz’s Huevos Rancheros, Homemade Granola and Gingerbread Pancakes.
Some Penny Cluse tips from a professional:
- Order the fruit plate as an appetizer. It’s fresh and beautiful. There always seems to be a fun bonus fruit on there like figs or passion fruit. It will keep your little ones happy while getting ready for the main course.
- Spend the money on the freshly squeezed orange juice. If they have tangerine juice, don’t waste a second contemplating.
- Ask for some toys for the kids if they’re not already on the table. They’ve got crayons, little dog figures and magnetic guys that are sure to please.
- Get there early. As in, when they unlock the door. Locals and tourists are on to this secret so especially if you have young children, you will want to beat the line.
By the way, when my husband and I first found out about his new job in VT, one of my very first thoughts (not the fantastic schools or how great it would be to live near our VT family) was, “oh my gosh. Penny Cluse.”
PS) Watermelon Agua Fresca. All summer long. What are you waiting for?
This just in: Lucky Next Door!
For years, Penny Cluse eyed the space “next door” as a potential expansion opportunity. When Heather Beal decided to close the Clothing Line, Holly and Charles bought the building and began construction on ‘Lucky Next Door.’ Lucky Next Door (LND) will be a true cafe layout with 25 seats and counter services. The new cafe will be managed and provisioned by Penny Cluse, but will operate as a stand-alone restaurant. LND will have a few Penny Cluse favorites including the delicious griddled banana bread with maple walnut cream cheese. The full menu will include espresso drinks, pressed sandwiches, quesadillas and Maura’s gingersnaps!
I cannot wait for the opening! Should my children one day decide to sleep past 6 am and we arrive during the rush, we will have somewhere to sit and sip while we wait for our green gravy.
Look for LND’s doors to open in early September — everyday from 8am to 7pm!