by Lisa Masé
Tom Moog and Jason Jack opened Moog’s Place in Morrisville in order to feature local musical talent every night in a safe and friendly atmosphere. Based on their success, they have opened a sister venue in Montpelier. Sweet Melissa’s, named after Jason’s wife, boasts nightly music and a selection of wine, local beer and creative cocktails.
On a recent Friday-evening, the joint was bustling with happy hour customers. Some pulled up stools to the stage, where Mark LeGrand crooned his honky tonk tunes. I was reminded of winter 2004, when five of us had just opened Langdon Street Café: LeGrand’s Honky Tonk Happy Hour was one of our first weekly acts. Others congregated around the bar, chatting loudly to hear each other over the music. We waited for our friends, taking in the curious color scheme: a black ceiling paired with lavender walls and marbled glass wall sconces in shades of orange and yellow. I notice approvingly that the new owners have added another bathroom.
Sweet Melissa’s wine selection is clearly hand-picked by the staff. I enjoyed a glass of Pennywise Petite Syrah. Behind the many beer taps, a unique array of liquors and Vermont spirits lined the shelves. My husband ordered a local beer, noticing that it cost a dollar more than at another local establishment. One of our friends ordered a gin and tonic with Barr Hill Gin from Hardwick’s Caledonia Spirits. She was surprised when the bartender presented her with a pint glass full.
We chose a bar table close to the window in hopes of hearing each other over the din. Eventually, a cheerful waitress stopped by to take our food order. We decided on appetizers: jalapeno poppers, fried polenta, “stoner” wings and a medley of chicken wings. The waitress suggested this final selection so that we could sample the restaurant’s three different sauces. When the food finally arrived, we were unimpressed by the deep-fried brown items that filled the plates. Some look liked fish sticks; others were more triangular.
Diving in, we discovered that there was cream cheese inside some of those deep-fried pockets. The others held a white substance, which we assumed to be polenta. Unfortunately, the wings all tasted the same to us. Perhaps we should have tried the pub fare, which ranges from fried scallop po’ boys to Caesar salad. One friend remarked that “if you were a few beers in, this food would hit the spot!”
In the tradition of the Morrisville kitchen, Chef Carrie Henry aims to diversify the menu with rotating dinner specials, including fish tacos, pulled pork enchiladas and sandwiches. This is the only place to get late-night fare in Montpelier. It might actually appeal after an evening out on the town.
Open Tuesday through Sunday from
3 p.m. to closing, Sweet Melissa’s offers music every night. The calendar is already full for the next six weeks. Visit them at the corner of Langdon and Elm streets in downtown Montpelier. There is room both for dancers and for wallflowers to enjoy blues and bluegrass-infused bands. I trust that, as more local musicians from our vast and talented pool approach the owners, Sweet Melissa’s music offerings will become more diversified.