There’s a reason our readers named the good doctor’s place the best casual restaurant in Stowe, and part of the equation includes the best burger in town. A juicy grilled patty (or two, if you like) of Angus beef from LaPlatte River Farm in Shelburne is sandwiched in a soft, golden bun that’s somewhere between brioche and challah, baked fresh less than a mile up the road by Mansfield Breadworks at Harvest Market. There’s a layer of Cabot cheddar cheese, and a healthy sprinkle of shredded lettuce, but a generous dousing of special sauce seals the deal. The proprietary blend of mayo, ketchup, mustard and pickles hits all the right flavor marks — creamy, a little sweet, a little tangy — and eliminates the need for additional condiments. It’s a classic, easy-to-love combination that cinches the No. 1 spot in the division, and satisfies like your favorite fast-food burger would if it tasted as good as you think it does at the end of a long, fuzzy night. Pair it with one of the many brews on the ever-changing beer list (No. 2 in this contest), which always features a good local selection as well as the latest highly-sought offerings from New England and beyond. The extensive bottle and can menu is sorted by style profile for easy perusing, or if beer’s not your thing, grab a glass of bespoke house wine or a cocktail made with Green Mountain Distillery spirits. Round out your meal with a little or a lot of hand-cut, canola-crisped fries (runner-up in our inaugural best french-fry category) served simply with ketchup and aioli. Other 4393 nods this year include second-place honors for best Chef Eric Warnstedt, who’s co-owner with William McNeil; readers named their other food baby, Hen of the Wood in Waterbury, best local fine-dining establishment. Doc’s après-ski scene also took second, and if you’re lucky you’ll be served by the silver-tongued and silver-placing best bartender, Sam Sheldon, who released his first full-length novel earlier this year. All in all, it’s just what the doctor ordered.
— Hannah Marshall