In recent times we have found ourselves eating out in some restaurants. Paying someone else to cook for you has to be one of the best, yet most simple luxuries there is. As we do a lot of cooking for a living, I can really appreciate eating a good meal someone else makes for me.
While eating at some local restaurants I had two thoughts. Where we spend our money matters and where the heck did the whole idea of a restaurant originate? In my lifetime, saying you are going out to eat at a restaurant has been a normal phrase. You can pick the type of restaurant you want, ie fast food, take away, sit down casual or sit down fancy, order food and just pay someone money at the end. It seems so matter of fact and commonplace in our modern life. Then I got to wondering, what was it like before? Before the time when we had this ability and luxury to say, ‘Oh I don’t feel like cooking tonight, I will just eat in a restaurant.’
In Medieval times, travelers used to dine at inns, taverns, monasteries and hostelries. Street vendors selling food have been around since Ancient Rome, but the restaurant as we know it today, is said to be the byproduct of the French Revolution. The word restaurant is derived from the French word, restaurer, which means to restore. In Paris in the 18th century, these new establishments called restaurants were forming where people could go and get flavored soups based with meat and eggs deemed to restore health.
Fast forward to current times and the act of cooking and eating in restaurants has been turned into entertainment. Reality TV shows have made cooking a spectator sport, (do you know there was a show called Cupcake Wars?! I had no idea, I just did a google search.) There are entire guides, vacations and tours to take people either around their hometown or the world looking for food. Two years ago we went on our own Northeast Vermont Food Tour Part 1 and Part 2 based off a food tour article in the Seven Days. As the Industrial Revolution spurred food to be ready either by microwave, freezer or other pre-packaged item, we hit an age where we many of us forgot how to cook.
We seem to be going full circle again as gardening, growing your own food or at least being able to read the ingredients of what you are eating has come back in style. Sites like Local Harvest help consumers find where to purchase local foods while food blogs like Food Babe have grown exponentially in recent times.
One of the reasons we love living in Vermont so much is the ability to get local, fresh food is so easy. There is so much going on world wide in the political sphere, but if you want to take action on something you believe in, one of the easiest, most attainable ways to do so is with your food purchases. Every day our consumer habits help create a supply and demand for the foods we as a society are collectively saying we want. So truly, what you eat matters.
So anyway, all this thought, pondering and research led us to eating at a new and local restaurant in Montpelier, VT, Down Home Kitchen. I’m really not a huge fan of eating out and typically I would rather cook my own food. But if I am eating out, I want to go to a local restaurant that has it’s own vibe, I want to be with friends and I want to feel good about spending my money there. I felt all of those things from Down Home. So here is a look at what was a combination of two dining experiences that united a group of friends, fed us well, celebrated the end of a season while putting money into the local economy. In case you have an upcoming event or reason to celebrate, maybe this can give you some inspiration to go out and try a different restaurant in your neck of the woods.
First appearances are important and this was certainly an entrance I felt welcomed into.
As we walked in, immediately everything looked bright and cheery.
It was cute, cute, cute and how could you not want to sit by the window and watch people walking by.
I loved the aesthetics of this long table. I asked the couple sitting at the end if they would mind if I took a picture of the table if they were a little out of focus in the shot. They said they didn’t mind and each of us ate our meal. As they were leaving they came over to introduce themselves as Cameron and Allison and asked for one of my cards. If their picture was going to be out there to the world, they wanted to see it. So shout out to Cameron and Allison for being awesome models in this shot! Thank you! 😉
There was just cool, old, funky (and new) decor all around the restaurant.
And I love how the bathroom door signs very simply just said, ‘All People.’ Way cool Down Home.
I kept taking pictures of all sorts of things around the restaurant but then…
…our food came. The majority of us ordered Eggs Benedict as that is not something most of us make regularly at home.
Here is Shannon also being really excited about the line of plates full of Eggs Benedict on our table.
Except Chris who got the catfish.
Also, I had to throw this picture in which shows the reality of dining out in Montpelier or Barre. This was taken while we were still eating but half the table had to get up to go and feed the parking meters. I know paying for parking is a normal and accepted part of humanity right now, but Barre and Montpelier have been aggressively adding parking meters everywhere. It used to be you could park a couple blocks away from the main part of either town and have a nice little stroll (added exercise – bonus!) to get to town. I know I don’t always know exactly how long my errands will take. But no, it seems like every time I go to town there are more and more meters. I hear a lot of people complain about this because it is a deterrent to spending more time down town, especially when the meters are so heavily patrolled. I guess the moral of the story is, eat your favorite thing first while it’s hot, so you don’t miss out while you have to keep running to the meter. On the bright side, you are still getting that extra exercise one way or another.
Overall I found dining at Down Home Kitchen a pleasant experience and something I would do again. So if you’ve got something to celebrate or a friend you haven’t seen for a long time, look for a local restaurant in your area. With the right context and ingredients, eating at restaurants may just restore your health again.
If you go and other tidbits:
Down Home Kitchen 100 Main Street, Montpelier, VT 802-225-6665
Local Harvest – great resource to find food close to you
Making Food in Vermont – garden and pretty food pics
FLX Wienery – can’t miss an opportunity to tell you about this awesome restaurant in the Finger Lakes Region of NY. If you’re not local, plan a road trip! This place rocks. Just go check it out. 5090 State Rt 14, Dundee, NY 607-243-7100
Two of my all time favorite cooking books. Seriously. I love these books. I saw them once and bought them immediately.