Dutch Mill: fresh from the family kitchen

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By Julia Donnini

As they wind up for another busy summer season, Jamie and Michael Bissonette have revamped their breakfast and lunch specials. A number one sell is the pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and baked beans, one of many recipes adapted from Grandma. Both the beans and pork are cooked multiple times before served. “There’s a technique,” Jamie explained. They certainly won’t just slap anything on the plate. It’s called soul food for a reason.

Twenty-four year old Michael is the third generation to grace the Dutch Mill kitchen. “I’m turning the reigns over to him,” Jamie said. “It’s nice that he can take over and I can catch my breath.” There’s definitely something in the soda fountain; their shared drive is unparalleled. “Michael’s like a recharged battery. He sees things differently than I do,” Jamie distinguished.

dm12The father-son duo alters the menu constantly. Diners can try a different homemade soup every day. Cross your fingers for the split pea with ham – it’s an excuse to try the homemade cornbread. Loaded burgers like the Texas Burger are other popular choices. This eight ounce burger is topped with onion rings, barbeque sauce, and Vermont cheddar. “What we cook, we’re very good at. Some recipes are alterations on my grandma and mom’s.” But the Bissonettes aren’t one-trick ponies. Salads and a variety of wraps are some other delicious additions.

The Dutch Mill wasn’t always a family joint though. When the mill would spin in the 1920s, residents understood that bootlegger/counterfeiter Clyde Irwin was open for business. The only nip now is in the air. The Bissonette family moved from Hinesburg to Shelburne in 1968 and, in family fashion, got to work. The first generation, Charlie and Corinne, restored the Mill and, in 1969, received an award for their preservation efforts.

“We’re hands on,” Jamie acknowledges. They are as hands on as it gets. Michael and Jamie man the kitchen, help bus tables, and even join in on the sports talk. When Jamie’s parents come back for the summer, they like to get back into the swing of things. “Even at 75, they’ll come just to pour the coffee. We’re truly owner driven.” Still, the team doesn’t just collaborate internally. They love taking suggestions from customers, as well as catering any dish to taste.

You might as well be gathered around the dining room table. Like a family, the Bissonette family knows all kinds. “From business men and women to farmers – we know first names. We see a car pull in and we fire a meal before they step foot inside,” Jamie said.

Kids’ breakfast favorites include the Mickey Mouse pancakes with chocolate sauce. “Everything is freshly made here.” If you’re not in the mood for something sweet, try one of their variations of the Eggs Benedict.

In the summers, catering services swing the Mill into full force. “Up to 200 people come out for these events,” Jamie explained. The Dutch Mill offers tented events and can cater any event from family reunions to bachelor parties. They’ll even bring it to you. This past Sunday, March 24, the team catered a barbeque-themed dinner to benefit campers at Camp Ta-Kum-Ta in Grand Isle.

They certainly keep busy. Last summer Jamie co-hosted a barbeque and bonfire to benefit homeless veterans in Vermont. “Last year 75 people came. We’re hoping for double that this year.”

As for this writer? I’m anticipating Mom’s appearance in the kitchen. Bread pudding is said to be in the works. And if the mantel-framed fireplace doesn’t, the flavor and hospitality remind you that the matriarch’s recipes aren’t far at all.

Stop by the Dutch Mill at 4309 Shelburne Road for breakfast or lunch, Wednesday-Sunday from 7:30 am-2 pm. Around Memorial Day, they will open doors seven days a week, with a variety of catering options. Call (802) 985-3568 or email info@dutchmillvt.com for more information.

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