New Friends

On our regular four-mile loop through Burlington’s Hill Section yesterday, Archie and I encountered several of the regulars: Charley, the feisty puggle; the border collies who twirl and spin into each other as we pass by; the delicate toy poodle who squeaks ferociously at us from his window seat perch. We see these canine neighbors several times a week, year after year. Occasionally, I’ll realize that I haven’t seen one of our furry friends recently—the elderly golden retriever who had a cancerous tumor removed from his head land was last seen with a drainage tube sprouting behind his ear, or the rickety greyhound, still searching high and low for his rabbit—and wonder if they’re still with us.

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Last spring, we crossed paths with a woman who shared her life with one our regulars, an uncharacteristically docile fox terrier. On that afternoon, she was alone. As we neared each other, I recognized the red, raw eyes, drooping shoulders, and slow, shuffling walk. I too have experienced that pain.

She stopped walking as tears flowed uncontrollably. Through her sob-interrupted explanation, I understood that the still-young terrier had become suddenly ill and did not survive. That day she was taking a final walk with only his memory to accompany her. Like many in the aftermath of a dog’s death, she avowed to never have a pet again—it’s too hard to say goodbye, I don’t want to be tied down.

The summer has come and gone, and though I was hoping she’d welcome a new dog into her world, I hadn’t seen her… until yesterday.

The petite terrier jerked his owner from tree to hydrant to mailbox post and back again. But the woman didn’t care. Her head held high, her jaunty stride, and her laughter as she nearly hogtied herself with the retractable leash told me she had returned from the empty-souled land we enter after loss.

“I’m so happy for you,” I said, giving her frisky new companion a wide berth to avoid having my shepherd ensnared in his leash.

She looked down at the bundle of energy she was connected to and grinned. “I am, too.”

Misery Loves Company

menu
Menu at Misery Loves Company

Metamorphasizing from a popular catering company to a sought-out food truck before finally emerging as a physical restaurant, Misery Loves Company represents the vibrant rebirth of downtown Winooski, Vermont. The former mill town is to Burlington—its next-door neighbor and the state’s largest city—what Brooklyn is to Manhattan, Cambridge to Boston: a little funkier, a little riskier, a lot more beards. And those beards were my first impression upon entering the restaurant on a recent evening with my husband.

The bar/open kitchen was busy that Wednesday evening, with two bearded cooks—one of them co-owner Aaron Josinsky—moving quickly from grill to prep area and back again. As we walked to our table, the aroma of fresh oregano and dill reminds me that summer’s bounty isn’t quite over. The dining area is cozy—maybe a dozen tables—and the creamy vanilla wainscoted walls, slate gray ceiling, and petite bouquets in simple glass vases on each table lend a cottage-like feel to the décor.

First things first: the beer menu. Though MLC offers a plethora of traditional and gently tweaked cocktails, we decided to stick with beer. We are in Vermont, after all, one of the best states for the quality and quantity of microbrews. MLC offers a half-dozen mostly local draft beers and ciders, as well as several varieties in cans or bottles. Though the keg of Hill Farmstead pale ale, Edward, had just kicked before we ordered, we were able to find other beers that we liked.

Then, on to the food. MLC offers several stages of dining: snacks, small plates, à la carte vegetables, and large format. Many of the dishes feature chef-made pickled items, foraged foods, and fresh herbs and spices, particularly those not as common to American palates, like lavender and vadouvan.

ssamWe started off splitting the fried oyster ssam, soft butter lettuce leaves wrapped around fried oysters, pulled pork, and chopped onions and cabbage, all coated with a savory, slight spicy sauce. The bite-sized pieces certainly aroused our appetites, and the blue-and-white-striped plate they arrived on played into the cottage theme of the interior nicely.

For dinner, we selected the mixed pork plate—one of the large-format meals, which are intended to be shared—with a side of roasted broccolini. Three styles of pork certainly appealed to my husband, and after digging in to the juicy house-made porchetta, I had to agree it was a good choice. The poblanos, with homemade-sausage-and-herb stuffing busting through the thin pepper walls, delivered some light warmth to balance the tart lemony breadcrumbs smattered over the roasted broccolini stalks. The succotash, studded with chunks of guanciale, also brought waves of heat, thanks to the jalapeños mixed in with the beans and corn. We finished it all, except some pieces of pure fat from the porchetta and one spindly piece of broccolini that was roasted into a tough piece of twine.

Though Misery Loves Company has been open for nearly three years, I hadn’t yet made it inside before this visit. I had tried, though. In the first couple of months after the grand opening, the hours were limited and never seemed to mesh with my dining-out plans. Now, I think my plans will revolve around MLC’s hours.

Misery Loves Company 46 Main St. Winooski, VT 05404 802-497-3989 info@miserylovescovt.com

www.miserylovescovt.com

The Happy Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 3–5 Supper: Tuesday–Saturday 5–10 Brunch: Sunday 10–2