Cornerstone Pub & Kitchen (Barre, Vt)
I know this seems like a completely random restaurant review and the likelihood of you ever showing up in the small town of Barre, let alone the great state of Vermont, is very slim. But I was there recently and thought I’d take the opportunity to highlight a far off locale.
I’m from Vermont and my parents were both born and raised in the Barre-Montpelier area. Psst - Montpelier is the capitol of Vermont - it’s a small state, we know no one remembers from geography class.
Barre is the Granite City and home to Rock of Ages quarry. My grandfather was a stone cutter and almost everyone in my family had something to do with granite and quarries in one way or another for a number of generations. I love granite and until I was well into my 20’s I assumed that all granite looked like the stone that came out of Vermont - a light grey with flecks of black and silver and white. It’s gorgeous and always reminds me of Vermont.
I’ve traveled back to Vermont more recently over the last few years mostly to join my Mom in her yearly pilgrimage to plant flowers at Hope Cemetery, one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the country I’m told primarily because all the stones are made from Vermont granite, and make sure my grandparent’s resting place is in pristine condition. It’s been great fun spending a little time in this quiet area every summer. It’s like a little serene bubble I get to visit every now and then.
Recently, Barre has been undergoing a “Big Dig” to revitalize and beautify downtown. My Mom recently oohed and awwed over the new “old-timey” streetlights and how amazing Main Street looked without the old power lines and telephone poles. Barre is on the way back to it’s former glory!
I was back in Barre two weeks ago and we had heard about the new eatery in town - the Cornerstone Pub & Kitchen. It’s located in what my mother told me is the old bank right on the main drag in town and was all the talk of the locals. On our last night in town we tried to make a reservation with no luck so I drove over and begged Keith Paxman, one of the owners along with Keith McSheffrey, to find us a table that night. He took pity on me and set us up in a great spot.
Chef Jesse LeClair didn’t disappoint. It probably helped that we knew he was an old friend of my cousin Eric, also a chef, but I digress. I had the New England Clam Chowder (appropriate right?) and then the Pan Seared Diver Scallops. Others at the table tried the fish and chips and the filet. It was all quite good. I can’t wax on poetic about the food because it wasn’t other-worldly. It was solid cooking and I can’t complain about that. I tried a wine that didn’t measure up but that was a bit of my fault wasn’t it?
The outstanding part of the menu which is the area I have the least knowledge in (other than all that beer drinking in Germany during high school) was the Draft Beer Menu. Cornerstone’s motto is “Helping to Rebuild Barre One Pint at a Time” and apparently they mean it. My cousin Steve was in awe at the list and especially commented on the Dogfish which happens to be an Imperial IPA - a robust, alcohol infused beer with a hop profile “that might rip your tongue out”. The Imperial IPA comes from Russian Imperial Stout, a style originally brewed in England for the Russian Imperial Court of the 1700’s. There’s my factoid for the day.
So if you happen to find yourself up in Vermont and close to Barre, stop by and visit Cornerstone. Drink a beer, chat up Keith and then wander up the road a bit and wander around Hope Cemetery checking out all the amazing granite sculptures and headstones. There are some fascinating stories up there…..
Heather’s Rating: Worth Going