Friday, June 28, 2013

Good Times Café

Back in the late 80s, Chris and I used to have a favorite pizza place in Burlington called Filomena’s. It was little dive on the side of a busy road, but they had the best pizza around and served cheap Rolling Rock. The summer we discovered it, we were both on break from teaching positions. I had come up from Boston, supposedly to take a few classes but mainly so Chris and I could spend the summer together while he finished up his dissertation.

Filomena’s was staffed by Phish heads, so half the time the pizza we were served had different toppings from what we had ordered. But we didn’t care. The beer was cold and they had a killer jukebox that played Al Green and the Talking Heads. It was quintessential Burlington in the late 80s.

Flash forward ten years later and Chris and I have gotten married, bought an old house we’re in the process of renovating, and have two young daughters. Filomena’s has long since closed but we’ve found a cute, little pizza restaurant in Hinesburg, midway between our house in Bristol and Burlington. Called the Good Times Café, it quickly becomes our new favorite—not only for its excellent pizza, but also its cozy but cool vibe. 

A converted clapboard cottage, Good Times has sweet cotton curtains and flowers on the tables. 

But they also have live music weekly and craft beer on draft for Chris (he’s graduated from Rolling Rock), and decent wines by the glass for me. It’s the perfect combination of a casual family restaurant with enough going on to keep the adults interested too. Plus something about the pizza sauce tastes vaguely familiar.

One summer evening when we’re headed toward the back entrance, little girls in tow, I spot a dented metal sign sticking out from under the stairs. My curiosity piqued, I investigate further. Sure enough it’s the old Filomena’s sign. The old dive had grown up too and had been transformed into Good Times Café. A chat with the owner, also named Chris, confirmed our speculation.

It all made sense. The pizza, with its thin crust and light, but flavorful (and not too salty) housemade sauce had always reminded us of somewhere else, but we could never quite put our finger on it. The staff was friendly and chill, but they got the orders correct now. The jukebox was nowhere to be found, but framed photos on the wall featured a variety of musicians.

Flash forward another 10 plus years and it’s still one of our favorite places for a casual meal and a good time. In the summer, they have picnic tables set up out front, where we’ve celebrated many a Father’s Day. 

In the winter, the windows fog up on a snowy evening when the place is packed with people who’ve come to hear a local musician. The menu has expanded from the old Filameno's days to include irresistible garlic bread, generously sprinkled with fresh chunks of garlic, 

and a mean Caesar salad.   

They've also added some Cajun options, perhaps the inspiration for the restaurant’s name? New Orleans favorites like jambalaya, gumbo, and crawfish etouffee, are regulars, although I have to admit I’ve never tried them, along with a lone Indian dish, chana masala, which I have tried and found to be a tasty change of pace. Soups, sandwiches, and homemade pies round out the menu. Chris is a longtime fan of their key lime.

But it’s the pizza that keeps us coming back. And maybe also we’re drawn there to recapture a bit of those easygoing days of Burlington in the late 80s. Laissez les bons temps rouler… 

No comments:

Post a Comment