In Chittenden County, people line up for breakfast at Penny Cluse and Sneakers. In Franklin County, the a.m. eatery of choice is the Country Pantry Restaurant in Fairfax. Not too many people ask for granola at this honest-to-goodness Vermont diner and steakhouse, with its large portions, speedy service, bottomless cups of coffee and Americana décor. Deep-fried potatoes are scrambled into your eggs for a filling "country breakfast" that comes with a side of corned-beef hash or buttermilk biscuits. A-1 sauce is offered with the steak and eggs.
At lunch, hearty "farmhouse" fare is the ticket: hot turkey sandwiches, meatloaf, burgers and lasagna are just a few of the family-friendly options on the extensive menu. At dinner, the Pantry goes steakhouse — the prime rib special is particularly popular. And no matter when you go, the homemade coconut cream pie is a great way to end your meal.
Owner Sam Jadallah was born in the Middle East, but he's got the American diner thing down. As a soldier in the U.S. Army, he ate a lot of mess-hall chow and peeled a lot of potatoes. Later, while stationed in Washington, D.C., he used to drive 45 minutes one way to eat at a family-style restaurant near Hagerstown, Maryland. The waitresses there all knew his — and everybody else's — name.
Country Pantry is modeled after such old-style establishments, where "you can be a lonely soldier," Jadallah notes, "and still feel right at home."