It does not have to be Valentine’s Day or a perfect spring evening to make you crave the warmth of a romantic evening, the pure exhilaration of a perfect date, or the just a divine night of dining and dancing the conversational fantastic with the person you most love or heartily enjoy. Thankfully, even in sometimes sleepy, often flannel-covered Central Vermont, you have choices to fulfill any or all of these possibilities.
Romance comes in many flavors and at Sarducci’s on Main Street in Montpelier, all of them are delectable. While the cuisine is largely Italian, there are enough delightful menu entries – and entrees – to turn even someone tired of marinara and meatballs into a very satisfied customer. From vegans to red meat enthusiasts, from those with tender appetites to those who are not happy with anything less than four overflowing courses, there is a selection for everyone at the tastefully appointed and deliciously creative mainstay of downtown Vermont state capitol dining.
From Sarducci’s (3 Main Street), it’s just a short jaunt by foot to the alternative cinema, Savoy’s (26 Main Street). Or walk just a little farther and you can take in more traditional fare at The Capitol theater on State Street, nestled between the coffee shops (often open late enough for a caffeinated nightcap and a tasty treat after the show) and the gold-domed statehouse rotunda that former presidential candidate Howard Dean used to call home-away-from-home. There’s just enough variation between the shows at both theaters to find the right match for you and your dinner guest, whether your tastes run to thought-provoking indy films or top box office fare. Call this a date, a rekindling of an old romance, or a fine time out on the town – you’re guaranteed to go home to pleasant dreams.
If you’re looking to impress as well as have the opportunity to break out your best duds, consider J Morgan’s Steakhouse located at 100 State Street. The menu is often black tie, even if you’re in more casual comfort clothes. More upscale than some spots in Montpelier, J Morgan’s offers a good range of surf, turf, and white meat. It’s central to all the shops along State Street and cozy enough for private talk, some very personal toasts to a lovely glass of red or white wine, and you never know when you might see a visiting dignitary. J Morgan’s is popular with out of state visitors, including the important or occasional celebrity kind. It’s equally appreciated among old and young romantics alike who enjoy a fine meal and attentive wait staff.
Ah, but these are just the start of your options in Montpelier. If you think there is a bit of romance in finger licking good food, make your way out to Finkerman’s Riverside BBQ at 186 River Road outside the city proper. I’ve witnessed more than a few folks making this their regular Friday date spot or sharing a romantic toast there, albeit with a rack of ribs.
If the only time you get with your beloved – or much loved friend – is during daytime hours, cozy up at a corner table at La Brioche Bakery at 89 Main Street. If you haven’t been there, you have missed one of the most creative confection collection of carbohydrates in the county, all lovingly prepared by students of the New England Culinary Institute. There is a reason there is often a line for the coffee and croissants served there: they’re that good. It also makes a delightful break from all the lard-filled mediocre tasting doughnuts that usually pass for coffee companions in Vermont.
But aside from the food, La Brioche makes a most acceptable spot for a soul talk, an early-day date, or an opportunity to plan your next romantic evening together and, once the coffee’s gone, the Montpelier’s Ben and Jerry’s shop is just a blink away as is the area’s literary – and dog friendly – hot spot, Bear Pond Books. What’s more romantic, after all, than concluding a date by curling up in front of a roaring fire with a fine book the two of you can share?