Spotlight on New Business: December
Published December 3, 2007
BLUE CAT BISTRO
A new eatery opened recently in the Castleton village center at 575 Main Street. The Blue Cat Bistro offers Italian-style foods served at 35 tableside seats and 10 at its bar. The new restaurant, nestled behind the Castleton Pizza Place & Deli, is the brainchild of Wenger Rehlen, who designed and built the interior, his father John Rehlen said.
Part of the Rehlen family of enterprises, the Blue Cat Bistro offers a number of Italian specialties, many of them made from locally grown foods. Among the entrees are shrimp scampi, veal saltimbocca, chicken Marsala, eggplant Parmesan, chicken Parmesan, and spaghetti Bolognese. Artichoke soup and fresh clam zuppa top its soup offerings; stuffed portabello mushrooms are a popular appetizer. Among its vegetarian fare is the Blue Cat’s pasta Mediterranean dinner, which includes mushrooms, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, feta cheese, and pine nuts.
The diverse menu includes broccoli rabe and spinach Roman style, with olive oil, raisins, and pine nuts, John Rehlen says. “We have everything for the entire family. We have a cappuccino bar. We serve calamari and bruschetta.” Beer and wines served are selected by Robert Staudter, wine buyer for the adjacent Castleton Village Store.
As in other Rehlen family enterprises, the Blue Cat Bistro relies heavily on local products. Vermont Herb & Salad Company of Benson grows its herbs and salad greens. The Whipple Hill hydroponic facility in West Rutland produces the Blue Cat’s tomatoes.
The new restaurant’s name derives from what has become a symbol of Castleton, a blue cat embroidered in chain stitch on what became known as the Caswell carpet. Created by Zeruah Higley Guernsey during the 1830s, the floor covering is now on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Intrigued by the image, author Catherine C. Coblenz penned The Blue Cat of Castle Town for young readers, as a way of incorporating a number of early Castleton settlers into a cohesive tale. The cat developed a cult of its own, of sorts, leading to the Castleton Women’s Club book of Blue Cat Recipes. The original book remains available in reprint form at the Castleton Historical Society and at Rehlen’s Castleton Village Store.
Decor in the Blue Cat Bistro strives for the feeling of “a different type experience, very low key,” Rehlen says. Diners could well feel they are sitting out under an Italian starry night, especially because fiber optics in the ceiling are that of a night sky, with even the occasional view of a comet shooting overhead.
Local diners have welcomed the Blue Cat Bistro, Rehlen says. “We have a lot repeat customers; both tourists and locals eat here.”
The Blue Cat Bistro is open Tuesday through Sunday from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. reservations are encouraged, especially for Friday and Saturday evenings.
The mailing address is P.O. Box 275, Castleton, VT 05735. The telephone number is (802) 468-2911 (answered at the Castleton Pizza Place & Deli.)