By Lesley Snyder
While her menus are rich in Vermont flavor, Barkeaters Chef Barbara Cote was first inspired to delve into the culinary arts by a meal in Maine. The dish was pheasant served with mustard sauce at a little French restaurant called Brattle Street, and Cote was obsessed with recreating it at home. The chef was kind enough to relinquish the surprisingly-simple recipe. “That restaurant and that dish is what made me want to learn more about food and the restaurant business,” Cote recalls.
She received her culinary degree from Southern Maine Technical College but attributes the refinement of her craft to on-the-job experience; Cote has been with Barkeaters since its doors opened nearly 3 years ago. From catering events and aiding restaurant start-ups to creating seasonal menus, Cote’s resume covers every base, just as she makes sure there’s a plate for every palate on the Barkeaters board. As any receptive restaurant knows, the turning of the seasons is a menu-changer. Cote recently altered the offerings to feature autumn’s fresh produce – Butternut Ravioli and Arugula and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad, to name a few. “Specials are a big part of our daily offerings,” Cote explains. “I like to change it up for our regular customer base and, of course, capture new customers.” Stop in to the restaurant any night of the week, and the crowd of patrons will speak for itself; Cote’s strategy has paid off.
Barkeaters’ LaPlatte Beef Burger is a favorite entrée among regulars, and the feeling is mutual in the kitchen. “My favorite dish to prepare is anything from the grill,” Cote shares. “I love to cook burgers and experiment with different toppings and combinations.” Her last homemade meal was – you guessed right – burgers. “[It] was for some friends,” Cote says. “I grilled burger sliders, grilled pizza with tomato, fresh mozzarella, and basil, and Caesar salad.” Whether catering for family or laughing with friends, Cote keeps life balanced thanks to a close-knit support system of companions and relatives. “If I could dine with anyone,” Cote reveals, “it would be my great-grandmother. She passed away when I was a young child, but I have fond memories of her visits which would bring the whole family together for shrimp and crab boils … I would love to sit with her, munch on some shrimp and grits, and learn more about her and her life – because I’m sure there is a little bit of her in me.”
Chef Cote’s love for her job is what keeps the orders coming. As for where the Barkeaters menu will branch out next, it will surely reach for something special this winter.
Barkeaters is located at 97 Falls Road in Shelburne – just follow the locals! To browse the menus, visit www.barkeatersrestaurant.com. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday 11:30 am-9 pm, Sunday 11:30 am-8 pm, and closed Monday. Reservations are recommended; call 985-2830 to save your seat. Chef Cote will keep the grill warm.