By Sheri Duff
When my husband Tim and I arrived for dinner at The Bearded Frog Bar and Grill Monday evening, a lively mix of locals filled the cozy dining room. Once seated, we fell into an easy repartee with our server, Emily, who was an enthusiastic fount of knowledge on the night’s offerings. Following her appetizer descriptions, I was faced with a tough decision: Graham Cracker Crusted Calamari or Venison Cigar Rolls. “If it makes a difference, both choices have been a staple on the Frog’s ever-changing menu,” Emily noted. While I considered my options (calamari eventually won out), Emily explained how the Shelburne restaurant’s name was chosen. “Owner, Michel Mahe, named it after himself,” she said. “He is a French man who has a beard.”
Mahe, that French man with a beard, now owns five eateries and counting: The Black Sheep and Park Squeeze in Vergennes, the Bobcat Café in Bristol, plus the Bearded Frog and the Next Door Bakery in Shelburne. And he’s not finished yet. He has recently taken over the former Woody’s location on Bakery Lane in Middlebury with plans to create an environment similar to the Bearded Frog.
Following that spectacular restaurant news, Emily recommended the delightful-sounding Lemongrass Poached Haddock in a yellow curry lemongrass broth with sautéed vegetables and basmati rice. As tempting as it was, we elected to stay with our original choices. Tim made a tasty pork selection: Citrus Mango Pulled Pork Sandwich. No barbecue sauce necessary. It was light and flavorful, thanks to the cider vinaigrette, and was complimented by the southern-inspired fried okra. “A taste sensation,” my husband bragged. I chose the more traditional Flat Iron Steak Sandwich. My entrée was cooked exactly to my specifications, medium rare, served on garlic bread with arugula, fresh mozzarella, caramelized onions, and a basil mayo aioli which found a home next to perfectly-prepared crispy rosemary onion rings. Yum, need I say more?
As we finished our entrees, Emily made a great pitch for a dessert item she thought we should try – birthday cake served a la mode. Sadly, there was no way that Tim or I could manage more than a freshly brewed cup of coffee for dessert. But it’s something to look forward to on our next visit.
Located in Shelburne Village, inside the renovated, historic Shelburne Inn, the Bearded Frog is open at 4:30 pm every day for cocktails. Dinner is served Monday through Thursday 5-9 pm, Friday and Saturday 5-10 pm, and Sunday 5-8:30 pm. For more information, please visit www.thebeardedfrog.com. Reservations accepted at 985-9877.