After it was recommended several times by my fellow foodie friends, I finally stepped into the ultimate breakfast hangout, Penny Cluse. This multi-level home had been transformed into a buzzing, cozy restaurant where you were greeted by a view of the downstairs open kitchen, a friendly host stand and people packed onto the main and upper floors.
Quickly seated at the bar, the first thing catching my eye was an Avocado Smoothie.. Intriguing. After choosing a yogurt base (other options: soy or coconut milk) the only other ingredients were avocado and agave. The best way to describe the flavor was that it was similar to a purple grape! Not overly sweet with subtle flavors, the avocado added a creamy texture but more importantly was absolutely delicious. With the light sweetness from the agave, this didn’t taste like my favorite salad accompaniment. Occasionally slurping up silky avocado chunks was the only reminder that I was, in fact, drinking an avocado.
My breakfast choice was the Bellber Combo, two french toast (or pancakes) with two eggs and homefries. I also added a fresh fruit topping, something I would defiantly recommend. What surprised me the most was that the frenchtoast was actually made from (gasp!) french bread. They did not resemble those overly sweet, fluffy and slightly ridiculous triangles you get at most breakfast establishments. No, this was real french toast, lightly soaked in a hardy batter, perfectly crusted and drizzled with Vermont maple syrup. I was really glad I ordered the fruit topping; the fresh cut strawberries, banana and juicy berries were flavors that I would have been missing if I just ordered them plain. How could you ask for anything better? The eggs were cooked to perfection with the over-easy yolks dribbling out with the slit of my fork.
Now, let’s get to the Homefries. They were fantastic. Very rustic looking with potato pieces varying in size and ribbons of white onion throughout. These were not typical homefries; instead of tiny fried square potatoes these were soft half circles, perfectly caramelized and crusted on one side with a slight comforting umami. I couldn’t resist adding a blob of Ketchup (I know, a sin) but it was the perfect acidic condiment to complete the salty, satisfying side I was experiencing.
From my barstool, the closest seat to the downstairs kitchen, I could see constant rows of white onions making their way from a huge bucket under the stove to the cooktop and onto plates. The music was upbeat with a hectic, yet somehow very organized and curious waitstaff. I can easily see how this is Burlington’s darling breakfast cafe, full of character, flavor, and menu unique experiences.