I had already enjoyed an outstanding breakfast in Burlington at The Skinny Pancake. And after a day spent roaming the campus of the University of Vermont and sailing on Lake Champlain, I was primed for my evening meal. Quick reconnaissance of dinner options on Church Street Marketplace led me to Leunig’s Bistro & Café, situated on a corner just down the block from the city’s bountiful farmers market. I was tempted to dine in the second-floor lounge, an evocative art deco space, but the pleasant evening weather kept me outside, and I took a seat under the white-topped tents that spill out onto Church Street.
After I had selected my choices from the seasonal menu, my meal was made even more enjoyable when I learned that not only does Leunig’s emphasize local ingredients, but it also assumes an exemplary role in the community through its charitable work, ranging from donating 10 percent of its sales on one day of every month to a local charity, to the chef-owner auctioning herself off and treating the prize winner and five guests to a multi-course meal prepared and served in the winner’s home, to contributing, to date, a quarter of a million dollars to breast cancer research. An outstanding meal for the customers, inviting indoor and outdoor spaces, profits for the business, and generous donations to local health, education, and arts organizations: What more can you ask for in a restaurant?
Try This: Start with a perfect autumnal appetizer: pumpkin chowder, with roasted pumpkin, bacon, and sweet corn, topped with pumpkin seeds. For an entrée, I was intrigued by — and savored every bite of — the seared salmon topped with pear compote and brie, with a pistachio puff pastry pillow, risotto-style fregola sarda couscous, and sautéed baby spinach. For dessert, opt for Leunig’s signature cheesecake, made with Vermont cream cheese and mascarpone, topped with a strawberry and rhubarb compote and whipped cream.