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Essex Grill – Essex Jct., VT

The Essex Grill surprised me from the second I walked onto their new spacious deck seating area.  The inside seemed less like the grubby diner I had encountered 3 or 4 years ago.  It had a small, well lit bar with a flat screen TV in one corner and a descent dining space.  The restaurant was COMPLETELY empty.  The most disconcerting thing about the restaurant was the dog pictures.  All over the walls.  Photos of dogs of all shapes and sizes with there names covered the walls.  The oddest artwork choice I have ever seen in a restaurant.  A friendly waitress took our order – I had the pulled pork sandwich ($8.00) and my Dad had the clam basket ($10.00), both came with waffle fries (which are usually better than normal fries in my opinion).  My sandwich also came topped with onion rings.  I had a mixed response to my sandwich.  The bread was extremely fresh and in the first few bites the onion rings really added a nice crunch.  Something that was disconcerting was that the BBQ sauce had just been spread across the bread and the meat had not simmered in it or even touched it.  Like most pulled pork sandwiches, it became to much of a trial to finish  finish, the onion rings became a flavorless, soft mess.  My Dad’s clams were obviously freezer brand, there may have been the slightest hint of clam in them but it must have been my imagination, they were pretty terrible.  The waffle fries were the shining light of the meal, great seasoning and not oily and just great, whether they were freezer brand or not.  It took us ages to pay as we weren’t sure if we were supposed to go up to the counter or wait for the waitress, the waitress never came and there was an awkward exchange of cash in an area between the bar and restaurant area.  There was a wide selection of entree’s and house favorites ($9.50-$15.00)  There was also an interesting selection of cocktails.

Final Rating – 2.5.  A really nice eating space combined with mediocre food is the reason behind the 2.5. It isn’t as good as a 3 but not as bad as a 2.  The seafood options are probably something to avoid but the grilled ham and cheese with dijon mustard ($7.50) is an attractive option.  Go there if you want but there are better diner and American restaurants in Vermont, which hopefully I will be able to review later.

Peking Duck House – Winooski, Vermont

On the outside Peking Duck House looks pretty great.  A big, two floor restaurant.  A big bar, comfy booths complete the picture.  It was pretty empty went my Dad and I went (2 o’clock in the afternoon).  I blame the emptiness on high school not being broken up, but it was still disconcerting to see only 3 other people in so large a space.  We ordered from the lunch menu (prices range from $6.50-$7.25).  I had a hot and sour soup (soups come free with the lunch special) and the chicken with broccoli and egg roll.  My Dad had a wonton soup the general Gau’s chicken (first time I have ever seen that dish spelled in such a manner) and also an egg roll.  The first thing that really pissed me off about this restaurant was the fact that it told you which appetizer came with each dish and it clearly stated at the top NO SUBSTITUTIONS.  I wanted a spring roll and definitely did not want the crab rangoon so unfortunately anything that came with crab rangoon looked unattractive and the FOUR dishes (out of 38) that came with a spring roll I just didn’t want.  I felt forced into getting what I ended up ordering.  Also chicken wings took up the majority of appetizer space which is just ridiculous as this is a chinese restaurant, not a KFC.  However, we courageously stuck it out.  The wonton soup was a little oily and the dumplings were bland and the dough looked yellow, as if the dumplings had been sitting out then plopped into the soup.  The hot and sour soup was ok, nothing special, mostly hot and barely any sour.  The second I saw my chicken with broccoli I was pretty disappointed.  Perhaps it was own fault to assume that it would come in a brown sauce, which is the norm for most meat with broccoli dishes.  I wasn’t even sure if there was much sauce on the meat but I did miss my brown sauce a great deal.  It was also really oily but not in the comforting way chinese food is normally oily, it just didn’t fit the dish.  However, the meat was ok and the broccoli was pretty good.  The egg roll was browned and crispy looking on the outside.  It was very oily and the its innards were just frightening looking, my Dad ate his but i only took a couple of bites of mine.  The general gao’s chicken ok but fairly generic.  The insides varied on the cooked side, some pieces were a little to pinkish.  They were doused in a spicy sauce and there seemed to be a random heap of lettuce that had been sporadically dumped on the plate.  The waiter was lazy, didn’t even ask us if we wanted more water until after we had paid.

Final rating: 2.  Maybe it was just bad lunch special  food.  If i went again I would order one of their four duck options ($13.50-$27.50).  Most dinner meals range from $9.50-$11.50.  There are also no dumplings (there are meat ravioli’s but any chinese restaurant that has ravioli’s seems like they should be something to avoided).  Overall, just avoid this place unless there aren’t any other options.

An Introduction

Hi,

Like most people in this world I adore food.  I spend far to much money on it.  This is a good way for me to justify spending money and something to do in the summer after my freshman year of college.  I will be reviewing restaurants from around the east coast of America which will include Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida.  I will review restaurants on presentation, taste, atmosphere and service.  I will also give them a rating from 1-5.

1=DREADFUL.  Never eat there, no redeeming qualities.

2=Bad.  Nothing good to say, maybe one or two things that were fine.  Go only if you have no other options.

3=Good.  Mostly good things to say, maybe or two negatives.  A safe bet.

4=Great.  Awesomeness all around, one little thing that annoys me.  Go there and get ready for greatness.

5=PERFECTION. Can it be found? 

Hopefully people will read this. ENJOY.