’Tis the season of metamorphosis. This Tuesday in Burlington, the restaurant at 83 Church Street completed its transformation from Three Tomatoes Trattoria into nika , a new spot with cork walls, black-slate floors and a Mediterranean-esque menu.
At nika’s soft opening last weekend, an invite-only crowd feasted on charcuterie boards, dips, wood-fired pizzas — including one topped with yellowfin tuna, capers and chilis — and fresh ravioli stuffed with fava beans and shrimp.
Chef Dennis Vieira’s menu also includes bar snacks and creative appetizers such as an arugula salad dressed with sultanas and carrot vinaigrette, then topped with grilled halloumi cheese. Also on the menu: fresh oysters; Provençal tuna tartare; and main courses heavy on proteins, such as grilled branzino and stuffed quail.
This week also brought the resurrection of Jericho’s Village Cup and Caroline’s Fine Dining in the combined form of Fields Restaurant , whose soft opening began on Monday at 30 Route 15.
Fields has a lengthy list of wines, beers and spirits to pair with its upscale comfort food: LaPlatte burgers; hot and cold sandwiches; salads, including chopped kale topped with local feta; and entrées ranging from honey-lavender-glazed duck to potato-leek pirogis in a rye-ale jus.
Brunch is a big deal at Fields, too: omelettes, a corned-beef skillet and a “Ploughman’s Breakfast” should keep Sunday eaters sated.
Sometimes even a dose of celebrity can’t save a business in trouble. Gretel-Ann Fischer , runner-up on TLC’s “Next Great Baker,” closed her Winooski bakery, Cupp’s Café , on March 23. The baker says her lawyer told her to shutter immediately after their meeting on the preceding day. “But I said we had to give people at least one day. I didn’t want people to come to an empty spot,” she says.
Since Cupp’s opened in 2010, Fischer notes, both the business and her family have been kept afloat by the job her husband and co-owner, Brian Fischer, works at Reinhart FoodService. She cites various factors for the bakery’s increasing problems, including the crowded Winooski market, taxes and the city council’s recent decision to allow food trucks to park across from Cupp’s.
Fischer says she’ll continue to work on cookbooks and appear on television and the web while she weighs options for her next move — but she’ll stay in Vermont.