Wednesday, January 19, 2011
3 Squares Cafe, the quintessential Sunday morning brunch
Nestled one block north of Black Sheep Bistro is the small, cozy establishment of 3 Squares Café. As is the case with many of Vergennes’ mom and pop businesses, 3 Squares Café is easy to overlook, due to its unassuming exterior, but step inside and try out any of their offerings and I’ll guarantee you’ll be planning your next visit before you even finish your first dish.
At 11:30 am on a Sunday morning in the middle of J-term, you can bet that I am still lying in my bed, contemplating whether I can reach that bottle of Advil that lies just five feet away and if by some miracle I can make a glass of water appear right before my eyes. Often on these painfully “great” days by about 2pm you have mustered up the strength to drag yourself out of bed, trudge up to the dining hall and fill in the holes from the night before. After a night of fun and festivities, Sunday morning brunch is the promise of a large and sumptuous substitution for that missed grille binge the night before, or, in some of our cases, it's a time to settle that aching stomach and throbbing head with a few slices of toast and a nice hot cup o’ joe. But last Sunday we needed a little extra inspiration to overcome what felt like jackhammers going off inside of our heads. That motivation was none other than 3 Squares Café. We rang the gong and rallied six of our closest friends (some who would help share stories of the night (thank you Amy Schlueter) and others who were there for comic relief (Lindsay Kingston)) to join us at one of the best brunch establishments we know of in Addison County.
3 Squares epitomizes the ultimate homey café and the ideal place that you want to make your own. Not to ruin the mood provided by the excellent food, but 3 Squares would be an ideal spot to bring your laptop and just work for the day (if you have self-control and can avoid the constant temptation to eat). The small space is filled with mismatched wooden tables and chairs, which all come together to provide a casual, comforting, and personal environment. On each table are uniquely colored glass bottles of salt and pepper, which emphasize the country home ambiance. Ordering is done by counter service and in the place of a standard number, each customer or party is given an adorable figurine to distinguish their order. In our case, we were given a giant clothespin and a wooden apple. Adorable. This is but one example of 3 Squares’ successful efforts towards creating a comforting atmosphere for its customers.
Atmosphere aside, the food of 3 Squares is down right magical. There is a definite emphasis on local and fresh ingredients, which come across in each meal option. The menu is separated into three main categories: breakfast, lunch and dinner, and the children’s menu (the last of which has the classic options for the under-8 crowd). Breakfast, which is served from 8:00am to 3:00pm boasts some of the best offerings in Addison County and is perhaps our greatest draw to 3 Squares. This fine Sunday morning, some of our members chose the “Make Your Own Omelet Option”, which for $7.50 is served with home fries, toast, and a choice of three fillings. Katie Ruymann, savior of the world, selected goat cheese, caramelized onions, and roasted red peppers for her omelet. She commented that “the eggs were light and fluffy and the wide variety of ingredient combinations allowed for limitless flavor combinations, perfect for all palates.” I personally ordered my omelet with spinach, caramelized onions, and bacon. For me, while the freshness of the ingredients contributed immensely in making this omelet the best in the area, I also really enjoyed the home fries and toast. The home fries are served lightly sautéed, not deep-fried like at other places, and boast a rich array of flavors that hold the perfect amount of salt and crispiness. They are coupled with scallions, which add an interesting and zesty kick. There are standard toast options available, including sourdough, wheat, and rye, but we highly recommend ordering 3 Squares’ special maple nut bread, which, for me, is the crown jewel on the meal and is the reason why I return time and time again. But, honestly, any breakfast option you go for is going to be a winner. Kendrick Campbell (look for her on the dance floor, boys) another member of our party ordered the “huevos rancheros” and described it as “Mexico meeting Vermont”. Regardless of which dish you order, all are impeccably fresh, not greasy and overbearingly heavy like dishes at many other breakfast spots.
3 Squares is the perfect location for brunch, but the restaurant also boasts a pretty fine lunch and dinner menu. I, myself, have driven the 14 miles for the sole purpose of getting their Boyden Farm Hamburger to go. Let me tell you, this burger is gooood, perhaps one of the best I’ve had in my life. The meat is cooked to order and satisfied my request of medium-rare to a T. Now, when I order a burger, I don’t like to be timid and settle for just cheese and ketchup. I go for the whole nine yards, and fortunately, 3 Squares was ready for the challenge. Every ingredient on the menu is up for grabs when it comes to creating your very own perfect burger. I’ve personally created one so large that it took a fork and knife to eat it. After much contemplation, my creation included bacon, cheese, spinach, tomatoes, avocadoes, and caramelized onions on a focaccia , and man I was not disappointed. I challenge you to try it for yourself. I’m salivating right now at the thought of it. Anyone up for a 3 Squares run tomorrow?
Burgers aside, 3 Squares is also home to many other types of sandwiches and an extensive ingredient list that gives you the option of making really just about anything you could desire. And don’t forget to try their unique drink options, such as the “Ginger Cider”, which put an interesting mix on a classic drink, with fresh ginger diffusing into the cider base. These creative concoctions are perhaps the brilliance of the café that draws customers of all ages and palates in again and again.
When the meal is over, 3 Squares has the most delicious assortment of pastries, cookies, and fruit. Our personal favorites are the jars of cookies that line the counter. Go for the peanut butter cookie, but make sure you buy one and then leave immediately, because I’m pretty confident after finishing your first, before you know it you’ll be wrist deep in the bucket again.
3 Squares Café is located in downtown Vergennes on the corner of Main Street and South Maple Street. They are open seven days a week, Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can call them at (802) 877-
2772 or find them online at http://www.3squarescafe.com/. Hurry on in and trust us when we say before you know it, you’re going to be a regular.
Two examples of "Make Your Own Omelette"
Home fries, Maple Nut Toast, and a side of hungover
Ginger Apple Cider