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“Good Food; Excellent Service”
Review of Sweetwaters

Ranked #30 of 249 Restaurants in Burlington
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$8 - US$20
Cuisines: American
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Groups, Child-friendly
Dining options: Dinner, Breakfast, After-hours, Lunch, Outdoor Seating, Reservations
Description: Sweetwaters is an American Bistro with an unique twist on your favorite eats. For over 30 years, we've been serving fantastic cuisine with local ingredients in a family-friendly atmosphere in the heart of Burlington, on the corner of College and Church Streets on the charming Church Street Marketplace. Architecturally interesting, Sweetwaters is housed in what was the original site of the Burlington Trust Company. Built in the 1880s, the building retains its original mouldings, cornerstone, clock and architectural appointments. With a full bar, extensive menu, unique interior, and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, Sweetwaters certainly has something for everybody. We serve lunch and dinner daily, with a late night menu for all you night owls out there.
Reviewed July 21, 2017

We stayed in Burlington one night during Brew Fest (by coincidence). We chose Sweetwaters by chance, and discovered its interesting history in a building dating back to 1880, when a trust company first occupied it for some 70 years. It's a large restaurant/bar, with a hip atmosphere. Interestingly, several kids were there with their parents.

I ordered the trout, which was good but could have been hotter. My wife ordered a well-done hamburger, but Americans like their meat semi-cooked. I mentioned to our female server (who had a server-in-training with her) that the burger wasn't cooked properly. No problem. I've never seen a restaurant respond so quickly and professionally at correcting a mistake. A supervisor dropped by a moment later to say that a new meal was being prepared.

My wife is one not to complain and would have picked at her meal. Yes, the restaurant was very busy since it was brew fest in downtown. However, I decided that she should enjoy her meal. Within five minutes a whole new meal arrived.

Kudos to Sweetwaters for its very fast response. Other dining establishments would do well to emulate.

Date of visit: July 2017
    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
Thank JimTaggartOttawa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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135 - 139 of 774 reviews

Reviewed July 19, 2017

Good food, outdoor seating and some indoor seating with a few of Church Street, great for watching what's going on outside. Cozy interior decor.

Date of visit: March 2017
    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
Thank 6Vermonters
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed July 19, 2017 via mobile

Great food nice selection of local beer. Outdoor seating along the busiest street in Burlington should have had lunch outside but it was hot

Date of visit: July 2017
Thank phillyphotodave
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed July 18, 2017 via mobile

My family specifically visited this restaurant because it was dog friendly. When we arrived, we were seated outside (the dog friendly area) and our dog was immediately given water in her own water bowl.

The menu had a good variety. My two youngest ordered off of the children's menu and they received your typical child hotdog/mac & cheese portion. An older child ordered the fish and chips and my oldest ordered the salmon. My husband ordered the crab cake sandwich. I ordered the ahi tuna plate.

The food was fine. You can't really go wrong with fish and chips. The crab cake was OK. We've had better; we've had worse. I really enjoyed the ahi tuna with noodles. I wish the portions were slightly bigger.

My oldest daughter did not eat her mashed sweet potatoes which was under her salmon. Our server gave us an aluminum to go bowl and we scooped that into it and our dog had a blast.

It was a decent meal. I might have given the place 3 to 3 1/2 stars only because the food was average and the service was just a bit on the slower side. Tables are very tight, but that's understandable. Because it is a dog friendly restaurant, it has to be four stars from me.

Our family really appreciated the outdoor seating area and the fact that Sweetwater's allows dogs. We would happily return just because of that option.

Date of visit: July 2017
Thank winnsmash
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed July 18, 2017

I go to a lot of places based on Trip Advisor recommendations, and as a result I don't usually submit too many poor reviews. This was one of the rare exceptions.

I'll start out positively and try to be fair in this review. First off, the location is really great, right in the heart of the street market. You can sit in or out, with great "people watching" views. So the atmosphere really works here. If you're coming in for a drink or a quick snack and want to soak in the vibe, this is a good place for that...depending on the snack you order, that is. And families/pets are also welcome, I noticed. The atmosphere works.

The service was also good. They had a ton of servers buzzing around and the manager, who made an appearance or two (more on that in a bit), was responsive.

Let's move on to the food. It started out with an appetizer, the bacon-wrapped scallops. In and of themselves, they were very good and cooked perfectly, as was the cucumber salad accompaniment. However, two issues. First, there were a grand total of three (3) scallops on the plate. They weren't small, but weren't excessively large either. This for a charge of $12. Burlington in the summer, perhaps? The standard "market price" response? Okay, fair enough (though I've had this dish across the country at far more reasonable prices). But second, amidst the vegetables on the plate we found part of a clear plastic bag, about the size you'd snip off to pour a bag of rice or something similar. A little gross? Yes, but these things happen. We got our first visit from the manager at this point, and she was very nice and apologetic. Honestly it's a kitchen error and not a big deal. I was actually more offended by the price of three bacon-wrapped scallops, but i didn't say that. In the end, we received a discount on the bill for this.

So we ordered the food. The kids got the chicken fingers. They were fine, nothing good, nothing bad. I tried them and they were standard kids fare from a kids menu. We also ordered a salad and requested it be made gluten free. I read an earlier review extolling the good GF options. I agree the options were plentiful, however, it means little when the salad is brought out with croutons aplenty sitting on it. These would be the full gluten variety of croutons. They may have even been gluten-flavored croutons, "now with EXTRA gluten," just to rub it in (joking!), but I didn't try them (I'm not the one with the allergy). This prompted the second visit from the manager. Again, she was very apologetic and stated there was a newbie in the kitchen and this was atypical for their restaurant. I believe she was completely sincere and I accepted her apology and explanation. Honestly, this was an honest, and easily correctable, error and it really wasn't a big deal.

That brings me to the quality of the food. I mentioned the chicken fingers or strips, which were fine, and the overpriced (but delicious) scallops, but, and I mean this sincerely, my two stars stem primarily from the quality of the two main entrees, the pulled pork sandwich and the sesame-crusted tuna. The pulled pork was okay, but the ratio of meat to sauce to accouterments was totally out of whack, so much so there were big chunks of undressed pork falling off the bun, with oversauced pork in the middle. It would've been a good problem to have, as in many hard core BBQ joints, but the pork wasn't particularly tasty on its own. Overall it simply wasn't that good.

My entree was the tuna. The tuna itself, which was good quality, was cooked perfectly--seared rare. But while billed as having a spicy ginger glaze, it was neither spicy nor particularly glazed with anything. Much like a seared tuna dish I had earlier in Bar Harbor, ME, it lacked its own flavor profile. Added to that were Thai peanut noodles, a favorite dish of mine. This was also bland. There was very little sauce on the noodles, and the sauce that was there simply lacked flavor. I don't use the word "bland" lightly, and I also realize I'd be complaining just as much if there were too much sauce and/or salt, but these dishes, while certainly not terrible or bad by any means, just lacked flavor. It may have just been one of those days in the kitchen, I certainly acknowledge that, because the potential is there with these dishes.

Oddly enough, while the scallops were, to be blunt, a rip-off, the tuna and pulled pork dishes were reasonably and fairly priced ($18 and $12, respectively) all things considered, putting personal quality assessments aside. It makes the price of three scallops so perplexing, though maybe they are basing price on quality.

In the end, I cannot recommend this place based on this experience, but I wouldn't be averse to giving it another try or conceding we may have endured a string of misfortune. I fully accept the manager's explanations for the errors, and I don't begrudge them for it. I also fully believe that my experience was not reflective of their restaurant, but one fact (okay, technically an opinion) remains and that is this: the quality of the food we ordered was, in a word, poor.

(And seriously, three bacon-wrapped scallops for 12 bucks??? C'mon!)

Date of visit: July 2017
    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
1  Thank mdcawa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Terri M, Owner at Sweetwaters, responded to this reviewResponded July 20, 2017

Thank you for taking the time to share such a thorough overview of your experience. It sounds like we had some opportunities to impress and that we missed the mark. I am not going to make excuses since it is clear that our manager was on top of the situation and tried to make amends. We get it, sometimes things don't always go as planned so the best we can hope for is that we handle the situation promptly and appropriately at the table. It sounds as if we did.

The bigger issue appears to be that of the scallop dish. I don't want to sound defensive but feel as if your lengthy review warrants more than just a cursory answer. As I am sure you are aware, scallops come in a variety of ways. Bay scallops being the cheaper and smaller of the group, sea scallops being larger and more flavorful. Sea scallops are offered in one of two ways- "wet" or "treated" scallops have been soaked in a bath of phosphates for the purpose of adding water-weight. The alternative is dry scallops, which are shucked on the boat, but they go into a dry container with no water or preservatives. Their flavor is more pure and concentrated. They have a shorter shelf-life, but this means that they're fresher when you buy them. They also cost more. We purchase dry scallops that are currently selling at $14.50 a pound. If you include the locally sourced applewood smoked bacon, Thai salad and dipping sauce, this plate has a higher than industry average food cost. I hear you when you say it is expensive but we have chosen quality ingredients over portion size. Your point is well taken though and we are discussing revamping the wording on the menu to indicate the number of scallops to avoid any confusion.

Again, I want to thank your for your thorough critique and more importantly, your concluding statement that " I also fully believe that my experience was not reflective of their restaurant ."

Best Regards,

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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