Words // David Scherr
Photos // Ben Sarle
Any visitor or Vermonter interested in meeting some of the State’s top legislators, agency officials, and executive branch grandees could go on up to the Capitol building in Montpelier while the legislature is in session and wander its ornate hallways.
Or, if he is also interested in excellent food and a top-notch, Vermont-centric beer selection, he could stop by Three Penny Taproom—right on Main Street in Montpelier—and do both. On any given evening one might see members of the governor’s staff, the President Pro Tempore of the State Senate, and other stars in Vermont’s political firmament.
But regardless of political inclinations, Three Penny is must-stop destination in Vermont’s quaint capital. Embracing the best trends in localvore food and drink, the establishment brings exciting and delicious refreshment to the hungry and thirsty.
Neatly divided between a bar area and a sit-down restaurant, the interior trends towards a modern-rustic look, with a wood paneled bar and benches and a pressed-tin ceiling. With design reliant on clean, straight lines, the interior has a contemporary feel.
Any visitor to Three Penny would be remiss not to sample the extensive beer menu. Among the best local-beer bars in all of Vermont, Three Penny stocks drafts both famous and obscure. A true taste of Vermont (and the best that surrounding states have to offer) can be found on the menu. A thirsty diner would be pleased with the smooth and rich flavor of Crop Brewery’s Maerzan Lager, brewed in Stowe, Vermont. The bar also has a nice selection of Hill Farmstead’s beers, the prize-winning, remarkable, and increasingly famous creations coming out of tiny Greensboro, Vermont.
The beer is not-to-be-missed, but don’t leave without filling up on a great meal. In addition to the regular menu, be sure to ask for the specials, and listen carefully—Three Penny may well have a hidden treasure. On one recent evening it was a salad with fresh greens, shrimp and crayfish marinated in a roasted red pepper hefeweizen concoction, pickled carrots, and juicy beets, drizzled with a fine vinaigrette.
The burgers are made with excellent local beef, cooked to perfection. On a recent visit, Three Penny featured a burger special topped with an egg over easy and a light hollandaise sauce that gave flavor without overwhelming the ensemble.
The sesame-seared tuna is a featured classic and hard to pass up. The tuna is just right, cooked neither too much nor too little, with a smooth texture that is nicely complemented by a sweet chili sauce with a slight spicy kick. The sesame ginger mayo adds a subtle ginger flavor that makes the dish stand out without overwhelming it.
Come for the wonderful dining and stay for the local political celebrities, or perhaps the other way around. Either way, Three Penny Taproom is a local treasure in the heart of Montpelier, a destination worthy of its prime place in the state’s capital city.