Side Dishes: Pistou opens in Burlington
Max Mackinnon and Maji Chien
Diners eager to try the fare at Pistou at 61 Main Street in Burlington can get a taste early when the restaurant opens on Friday, December 2. Service starts at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and homemade pastries. Those who like what they sample can head back for lunch, and for dinner, which is served until 10 p.m.
Owners Maji Chien and Max Mackinnon aren’t worrying about the long days. They’re too excited about the newly refurbished space — formerly home to tapas restaurant Via Loma, which opened there a little more than a year ago — and about chef Mackinnon’s uncommon creations. The Middlebury grads both cut their teeth on the New York culinary scene, with big names such as David Bouley, Bar Boulud and the Food Network dotting their résumés.
The white-and-blue-painted dining room bears few traces of the dark oranges and treasure-chest-style metal fixtures of Pistou’s predecessor. The bar’s centerpiece is a floating wine rack crafted by L’Amante’s sous chef.
Chien worked at that restaurant and studied wine with chef Kevin Cleary while preparing to open Pistou. Her wine list is composed mostly of French and domestic bottles. “That’s what Max and I like best, and we’re trying to keep it relatively reasonable,” she says. Three beers are on draught, to make room for chilled whites in the fridge.
Those tipples probably won’t be too popular at breakfast, which is served Monday through Friday. Mackinnon’s pastries will change each day, but Chien says they may include bagels, scones, biscuits and his signature olive-oil cake.
Lunch is the only meal to be served seven days a week. That menu will also change depending on which farm-fresh treats arrive in the kitchen. Options will always include three different rustic baguette sandwiches and panini on Red Hen Baking Co. bread; a soup; and a side salad. “It’s gonna be pretty simple,” says Chien, as she shows off the artisan cheeses and Salumeria Biellese meats in the deli case.
Dinner, served Wednesday through Sunday, features seasonal creations such as winter squash soup with crème fraiche panna cotta and savory granola; a slow-poached egg with farro and barbecued beets; and agnolotti filled with polenta. Diners with a sweet tooth may be tempted by chocolate-and-ricotta mousse with peanut brittle and pretzel ice cream.
Chien says that, for weeks, community members have been wandering into the space, sharing support and asking when Pistou will finally open. Now they can have a seat.