Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: Mansurs on the Boulevard

BENNINGTON -- Art Gallery Dude stood at a pretty round table at Fiddlehead at Four Corners the other day and showed her sea-themed pottery from Maine. They chatted a bit then AGD walked away after amusing the woman with the story about Dr. Seuss and 13 Jumbos. She walked about the gallery a while longer then left and that was that.

This afternoon, Fiddlehead's phone rang ...

... and on the other end was a man with a twang.

He told AGD he'd been trying to buy something from Fiddlehead's website but was having Internet trouble. Long story short, Brandon McDonald, who owns a restaurant in Baton Rouge Louisiana, wanted to buy this oyster platters from Maine ...

Buy more Evans pottery at

... because, apparently, a friend noticed them at Fiddlehead and told him and he thought they'd enhance the experience at Mansurs for customers who love their oysters. Was it the woman in the gallery the other day who told Brandon? Or was it the Bennington Selector -- a Main Street food cart cook by day -- who just happened to be in the gallery today and saw the platters then called his restaurateur buddy in Baton Rouge -- if he even has a restaurateur buddy in Baton Rouge to begin with? Or was it someone else all together? Does it matter? No. Is the mystery intriguing? By all means, captain.

Either way, someone saw the handmade oyster platters from Maine on the round tabletop at Fiddlehead at Four Corners and called Brandon McDonald down there in Baton Rouge Louisiana, and one thing leads to another ... and AGD takes the order over the phone.

Annnnnd scene!

But it never ends there with AGD, does it?

Who's Brandon McDonald and what's this restaurant he owns in Baton Rouge?

Quick Google search produced a video of Brandon and his brother, Justin. It's a 6-minute promo of Mansurs on the Boulevard. The video is raw with a nice touch of post-production polish to give it heart and soul. It's a funky fusion of photos, jazz bass and horn and cheery interviews and tours.

Justin and Brandon McDonald are the two youngest McDonald brothers. There are 7 of them. The two youngest ones own Mansurs, which prides itself on "New South" cuisine. About being brothers and co-owners, "We have to fight before we get it right," Justin says as Brandon smiles, "then we have a scotch and forget about everything."

The production reminds AGD of the videos he makes to showcase Fiddlehead at Four Corners or interviewing customers. Granted, he doesn't spend much time in post-production but if he did the videos would look like the Mansurs video below.

Anyway, Austin is the executive chef at Mansurs and he said something that really stands out vis-a-vis the Brothers McDonald's management style. The cameraman asks Austin what his favorite part of working at Mansurs on the Boulevard is and he answers "creative freedom" to cook what he wants every night. Fiddlehead's owners have given AGD the same creative freedom to deliver the art gallery's message. It's a reassuring feeling.

Toward the end of the video the cameraman zooms in on a few items on the menu:

Charbroiled oysters with parm and garlic sauce

Crab cakes with remoulade sauce

Cedar-roasted red fish with lemon-caper beurre blanc

AGD knows where he's going first time he hits Baton Rouge.

For reservations call (225) 923-3366.

And if you love sea-themed art, buy it on Fiddlehead's website ...

... or call AGD at (802) 447-1000.