Leunig’s Old World Charm in Burlington, VT

Step around the corner post. Open the small glass-paned door and step into France, WWII. Leunig's at the corner of Church and College Streets in Burlington, Vermont

The spirits of Edith Piaf, Maurice Chevalier and Jacques Brel embrace you as you are greeted by a casually dressed Maître d’. Though the restaurant is upscale, the ambiance is country-hospitable, so much like a small town bistro minus the dogs under the tables; one of the endearing features of French dining.

Leunig's clock in Burlington, VT

Manager Bob Conlon greeting loyal customers from Lake Saranac, NY under the clock at Leunig's restaurant in Burlington.

A few things strike you right away: an inviting bar backed by mirrors and bottles, a huge railroad clock and a pervading feeling of intimacy.

The tables are close, but knowing that beforehand makes it acceptable. The general conversational tone is low so it merely adds to the overall ambiance – no chance of thinking everyone is listening to what you say.

There are basically three rooms: the main one to the right as you enter has windows directly on Church Street. This is great fun when there’s action on the street, like holiday lights, a parade, or just the perennial passing show, which varies from chic couples, strolling musicians, dogs galore, purple Mohawks with gold baubles, and enough babies to call it a “boom”.

Kiosk and newsstand in Burlington VTIf the window tables are filled, my next choice is the little room on the left. It is perfect if you are alone and want to sit in a corner to read or collect your thoughts. Or this may be the moment to hold your sweetie’s hand and …and…and admit you really did buy that forty-foot boat. It looks out on College Street. You can still see some of the people on Church Street. The traffic is slow. Burlington gives pedestrians the right-of-way to a degree that most of them don’t even look for cars – they walk right out into the traffic. Very annoying, but they are a protected species so you’d better inch through the intersection, one body at a time.

The third room is up a few steps. There is nothing special here except it receives the same delicious food. Leunig’s takes reservations and for the most part have their timing down pat. If you do have to wait a bit, there is always the inviting bar.

The action is on the street.Kiddie train ride on Church Street, Burlington, VT

When the weather is right, the preferred seating is under an umbrella at one of Leunig’s outdoor tables. Many of the establishments here have roped-off dining areas the length of Church Street. Oh, the delight! Dogs, small children climbing the large rocks placed along the way, street musicians, jugglers, food carts, and many of Burlington’s colorful characters – believe me, there are some.

But it is the food that takes the well-deserved stars!

Leunig’s Executive Chef & Co-Owner, Donnell Collins is dedicated to promoting Vermont’s home-grown green ethic. The list of purveyors reads like the program for a 4-H fair: organic fruits and vegetables; local cheeses; breads and crackers made from Vermont-grown wheat; meat and poultry from nearby farms; fish from the lake.

Strolling and sitting on Church Street, Burlington, VT

Some friends stop to chat, others just sit in the sun and people-watch.

The menu is inspired. I enjoyed my “Pumpkin Falafel…$12 Spiced Pumpkin Croquette, Baby Spinach, Sliced Red Onions, Macintosh Apples, Crumbled Vermont Feta, Yellow Curry Aioli on Grilled Pita Bread Served with Mixed Greens.”

My husband had his love; hash. He was surprised to see the large shredded pieces of real corned beef underneath his poached egg.

This particular day, the red arrow on our thermometer was settled to the left of zero, otherwise I would have had my usual Vermont Cheese platter with homemade cheese crisps and fresh fruit. Lovers of duck, venison, lamb and hearty steaks or boeuf bourguignon will be in hog heaven here.

You will not go thirsty. The bar is fully stocked and the wine and beer list is long. Weekly, a three-piece band livens up the evening.

After all, Leunig’s is a bistro in the finest sense.

Leunig’s Home Page and Menu

Gail’s Florida: coast by coast series

Google Map

EXTRA! On special occasions, Leunig’s has gala diners – champagne and all. Valentine’s Day will be one; Marathon day featured a breakfast last year (the runners go right by here.  Check the “Event” section on their website for details.

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