When we left Toronto, we did so with the goal of skirting along the bottom of Canada to re-enter the US at the New York State / Vermont border, just south of Montreal. With our overnight stop planned for Burlington in northern Vermont, it was our longest day of driving with an estimated 7 hours in smooth traffic.
When planning our drive the night before, we looked for obvious lunch stops without finding any. And so, we did what any two Australians in North America would do: we searched for Walmart stores along our route. There was one in Kingston, just under 3 hours from Toronto, and so that became our first stopping point.
|Walmart. I know, it's not that exciting.|
For those of you with Walmart at your door step, I appreciate that this might seem a little odd. However, we don't have Walmart in Australia! We hear about it, and we know it is to be viewed with disdain, but we don't have it.
Now that we've been? We can view it with disdain right along with you. We walked a circuit of the store, we noted the other customers with a detached, observer gaze, we gave the shooting and fishing section a wide birth, and we exited.
We then took a photo of our hire car in the car park because, alas! we hadn't yet photographed it.
If you ever want to hire a car in North America, take note that the above (a Chevrolet Impala) is the smallest car you are likely to get. This is true even if you specifically request a small car, and you specifically request not to be upgraded from a small car to a larger one. It is true that the Impala is not a large car, but when you are used to driving on the left, and to driving a hatchback at that - it is well large enough.
After Kingston's Walmart, we continued down the road towards Montreal.
Have you been to Montreal? I knew it was bilingual, but I wasn't expecting it to abandon English altogether.
However, it does. With gusto. And the other thing it does? It throws cars at you from all directions. Out of roadwork, out of a maze of freeway roads, out of merging lanes, and sometimes out of thin air. So. many. cars.
People, don't ever drive in Montreal. Especially don't do it in rush hour, after several hours of previous driving, when you are in a semi-unfamiliar car on unfamiliar roads with road signs in a foreign language and many hours of driving still ahead of you.
I made the mistake of volunteering to drive most of our Toronto-Burlington stretch, because I knew I wanted Mr Bite to drive us into Boston and New York. I was a fool. By the time we reached Burlington, at 8.15pm, in darkness, I was exhausted and Mr Bite was edgy after I nearly drove us into a kerb.
I say again: just don't.
After the above, I was set to abandon all dinner plans, despite my research suggesting that Burlington is treasure trove of vegan-friendly eateries. Fortunately, Mr Bite still had sufficient energy to get us out the door (with him driving) and deliver us to The Skinny Pancake on Burlington's Lake Street. If you visited during the day, the restaurant would overlook Burlington Bay. If you visit at 8.30pm, it overlooks darkness but does have cozy tables and live music playing in a corner.
The Skinny Pancake also has vegan pancakes, of the thin crepe variety, with chickpea batter being one of 6 batter options available. The others are savoury, sweet, 100% whole wheat, cornmeal and gluten free, although I will confess to not knowing the difference between all of them.
I started with the house salad, which consists of mixed salad leaves, cherry tomatoes, seasonal fresh fruit (raspberries!), maple cider vinaigrette and crepe chips. I worked around the chevre cheese, which in my post-driving haze I didn't notice in the menu description. Cheese dodging aside, it was a good salad and allowed me to squeeze some vegetables in before moving on to my main focus.
|The Skinny Pancake's house salad.|
My main focus, of course, was dessert. Alongside my salad, I ordered a vegan crepe with fresh strawberries, minus the standard whipped cream. With hindsight, I wish I had asked for maple syrup to be added instead of the cream, but that point aside, it was a good crepe and well worth the extra car journey for.
|Vegan crepe with fresh strawberries.|
Mr Bite started with the Veggie Monster crepe, which consisted of fresh spinach, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, cheddar cheese and pesto. He found it so satisfying that he also finished with it, failing to move on to sweeter options. If I had been in a savoury mood, I could have joined him with the Vegan Monster, which has seitan, spinach, mushrooms, onions and roasted peppers.
|The Veggie Monster. |
I have no idea where those random dollops of chevre cheese came from.
The next morning, we were able to walk Burlington in daylight, taking in its scenic water views and tree lined streets. The town is built around the University of Vermont, and is an attractive spot if you are ever in the area.
From Burlington, we then drove on to Hanover, New Hampshire, a lunch time stop over on our journey down to Boston. That, however, is a story for another day!