As any Vermonter knows, a cornerstone of surviving the winter is good, honest carbs. Caroline and Matt Corrente, married co-owners of the newly-opened Haymaker Bun Co. and The Arcadian restaurant, know this well. The two businesses now co-inhabit the space at 7 Bakery Lane, formerly occupied by The Lobby. Entering in the morning, however, you’d never guess the dual purpose of the space. Greeted by a charming pastry counter stacked with Caroline’s fresh-baked buns, an espresso bar and lines of succulent-clad wooden tables, you’ll see crowds of early birds from Middlebury students parked on laptops to sticky-fingered toddlers digging into their breakfast.
But between the hours of 11:30 a.m., when Haymaker Bun Co. closes for the day, and 4:30 p.m., when The Arcadian opens for the night, Caroline and Matt Corrente turn the place on its head. The barista behind the counter is replaced with a bartender, dough-kneading becomes pasta-pressing, and the fresh white walls once filled with natural light take on a glowing, cozy ambiance to become an elegant Italian restaurant.
The businesses opened their doors earlier in November, and, as the Correntes told The Campus, it’s been going great. “We’ve had nothing but awesome support from people,” said Matt, to which Caroline added, “It’s a little nuts, but it’s been a great turnout from the community.”
This all may seem like a lot to take on, but the Correntes are no strangers to the Vermont food scene. Matt is a Middlebury College alumnus of the Class of 2006.5, and Caroline graduated from the University of Vermont in 2012. Caroline formerly worked as a baker at Otter Creek Bakery, and Matt is the former head chef of Two Brothers Tavern and opening chef at Notte.
Asked if these connections remain important to them, Matt immediately replied, “Absolutely.” At a time when many Middlebury businesses are struggling, Matt is glad to fill an unoccupied niche.
“We saw that as an opportunity to provide the community with something that wasn’t currently here, rather than competing with somebody else,” he said.
More than that, though, the Correntes are both seizing the opportunity to do what they love. “Cinnamon buns are my favorite pastry,” Caroline told The Campus. She previously attended Le Cordon Bleu pastry school in Paris, where she perfected the brioche dough she uses to make them. Matt, too, said of deciding on a pasta-based menu, “It was an easy decision. We said, ‘Let’s do what we love to do.’”
By now, both businesses have established their core menu items, having been thoroughly taste-tested by the third owner, their two-year-old son. For Haymaker Bun Co., it’s the “OG Bun,” a quick-selling classic that’s well-represented on the pastry counter. For The Arcadian, it’s the homemade pasta dishes complete with fresh seafood. But the couple is excited to keep developing their repertoires.
Seasonal flavors are well-represented from morning to night on 7 Bakery Lane, beginning with Caroline’s specialty buns. She has already begun baking the “Gingerbun Man,” inspired by the classic holiday cookie. But, Caroline said, “Why stop there? Why not do all the flavors?” She plans to have eggnog- and mint-chocolate-flavored buns too, and is excited to be able to incorporate fresh local produce in the spring and summer.
Matt shares a similar sentiment and added that he’s looking forward to adding seasonal specials to the Arcadian menu. He can’t wait for tomato season, though neither business imports much produce — because of their heartfelt connection to Vermont, the Correntes use locally-sourced ingredients as much as they can.
That doesn’t mean The Arcadian’s winter menu isn’t colorful. One of Matt’s favorites is the Tricolore Salad, a Caesar-style salad that’s true to its name with red, white and green lettuces. Both the Correntes also gave their official seal of approval to the lamb neck, which Matt described as “the perfect food for a snowy November.” The two businesses are also planning to start collaborating on Sunday brunch beginning Dec. 9.
Beyond just good food, though, the Correntes want to create a space that welcomes people from all corners of the community. They have already seen locals turning into regulars, and love the idea of the space, which seats 75-80 people, becoming a hangout spot. They also offer free WiFi. “It makes me really happy to see people hanging out and doing work,” Caroline said.
The Arcadian will be hosting the graduation party for the Middlebury Feb class of 2018.5, and Matt, having graduated Middlebury as a Feb himself, can’t wait. The restaurant’s reservation list is also already filling up for spring graduation, but the Correntes have even more in store for Middlebury students.
The Arcadian, usually serving traditional Italian food, will be hosting “Throwback Thursdays” during January, aligning with the college’s J-Term. Not much must have changed since Matt’s time as a Midd Kid, because looking back, Matt remembers the frenzy that chicken parmesan would incite at the dining halls. He plans to serve the dish on a menu of Italian-American comfort foods, recognizing the need for warm carbs and melted cheese during Vermont’s coldest month.
Haymaker Bun Co. and The Arcadian have both started off strong in the town’s somewhat precarious food scene, and Matt and Caroline are hoping to bring them nowhere but up. Both businesses welcome Middlebury students with open arms and, as Matt reminded, “If you can make it to Twilight, you’re five minutes away.”
Buns, Hun! Dual Bakery and Italian Restaurant Now Open