Tucked inside the Burlington Marriott, Summer Winter isn't your normal chain hotel restaurant with a feel-good name. For instance, how many restaurants anywhere have a full-time gardener? But then Summer Winter is the third restaurant from Maine chefs/gardeners Mark Gaier and Clark Frasier, owners of Arrows, an original garden-to-kitchen pioneer, and MC Perkins in Ogunquit, ME. Frasier and Gaier are also competing in Bravo's "Top Chef Masters" season four cook-off.
Right now, Summer Winter's on-site greenhouse goodies spill onto the just-opened patio: tomatoes and herbs line every ledge. Lovely fresh produce is one thing but, really, what counts is knowing what to add and what not to. Take the M/C Picnic Basket, an appetizer sampler with pureed caramelized eggplant, pine kernel topped hummus, spicy peanuts, flatbread, which is buttered before baking for extra flakey richness and olives marinated with orange zest. Olive plus orange equals fantastic flavor. Who knew?
A summer dish of sliced red and yellow beefsteak tomatoes is topped with chopped, crisped tender young okra. Bacon rashers and a delicately tangy soft goat cheese add perfect salty and creamy elements, while a basic basil puree ties it together with a perky note. Cavatelli made with ricotta dough is simply mixed with grilled corn kernels and shredded sautéed shallots. Fresh-picked tarragon softly compli- ments the dish's sweetness. It's finished with shaved Parmesan and has no sauce to upset the wonderfully balanced flavors. Entrees range from $19 to $34.
Right now, the signature Summer Winter Greens salad pairs a robust red oak leaf lettuce with cubes of feta, cantaloupe and green melon, all arranged geometrically and splattered with a bold splash of bright pink raspberry and blueberry aceto. Jackson Pollack would be proud.
How about atmosphere?
Summer Winter’s interior echoes the menu in pairing great design with the simplicity of wood, stone, earthy tones and skylights over geometric hanging lamps. A wall of windows overlooking the patio’s
greenery and onto near-distant trees says anything but the surrounding Burlington industrial park. 1 Mall Road, Burlington 781-221-6643 www.summerwinterrestaurant.com