Monday, September 13, 2010

Y.S. Eats

J has been signing us up for wild women weekends in my hometown, which often involves staying the night in houses in the village & eating at The Winds. The last time, we sampled several different restaurants. We stayed over Saturday & Sunday nights of Labor Day weekend, taking a sketching class and a jewelry-making class after worship on Sunday.

We started the "weekend" with a snack at Peach's Grill. Howard was our waiter so of course, the service was great. We had the pita chips & dip sampler. The pita chips there are perfection and they come with a yummy trio of dips, hummus, tzatziki and a roasted red pepper feta dip I usually don't like but which was good this time.

Dinner Saturday night was at The Winds, which was utterly slammed. While it's frustrating to have to wait a long time even with a reservation, it's wonderful to see them so busy. We were seated at last next to Steve Current & Karyn Stillwell-Current, whose Current Cuisine has yummy foods to go (we can't get enough of their amazing sundried tomato spread., so I was eyeballing what was on their plates the whole time. Hee hee. Our waiter was nice, a new guy. It seems like they've recently had a big turnover in staff. Luckily, the new folks seem to be picking it up nicely. We shared two appetizers, a delicious tomato bruschetta and the cheese service. I think J has a new favorite cheese, Cypress Grove Lamb Chopper, and I got to revisit a couple of my favorites, d'Affinois (a lush triple creme) and Romao, a rosemary-encrusted hard cheese. We both chose the Pat la Frieda ribeye with Bulliet bourbon worcestershire butter for our entree (veggies & mashed potatoes on the side, if I recall correctly) and split the raspberry tiramisu for dessert. J loved the creaminess of the mascarpone filling while I snagged as many berries as I could. I'd forgotten how much better I like fruit without anything creamy touching it. If you love fruit & cream, it would be a splendid dessert.

Sunday after church, there wasn't much time for lunch, much less time to have brunch at The Winds, before our sketching class began. Luckily for us, the Corner Cone (which was Tastee Freeze when I was a kid) was right on the way from our lodging to the class site. We sat outside and noshed on delicious sandwiches while enjoying the newly lovely environment. The newest owners have gone to a lot of trouble to make it welcoming, with trellises, adirondack chairs, firepits, pergolas, flowers, art. J had a veggie melt, which looked heavenly, and I had a pulled pork sandwich. The fries were crinkle-cut, my favorite, and the Pepsi mix was the perfect (and hard to obtain) balance of syrup & soda. We returned this past weekend for ice cream. They offer soft serve in a wide variety of flavors...the butter pecan & peanut butter both hit the tastebuds nicely...and they even have vegan ice cream for the kids! Their waffle cones must be made on the premises because the sweet scent wafting out of the building just about persuaded us to skip our art class & order dessert right then & there.

I took J for her first dinner at Williams Eatery on Sunday night. It's in the old brick building on the corner of Corry & Dayton streets that has housed many great restaurants over the years. Williams Eatery is the newest incarnation. They serve American and Peruvian food. We started with a couple of dips, a crab dip J loved (I am not a fan of crab and it was definitely crabby) and a chorizo cheese dip we both dug. These were both served with grilled flatbread and fresh tortilla chips. Jeannene is a pasta nut, so she ordered the Southwest Chicken Pasta, while I went for the lomo saltado. It's kind of weird to have tomato-y, spicy beef tips on french fries, but it works. The bed of fries soaks up the superb sauce nicely. The greenhouse, added to the building when it was Carol's Kitchen, was a delightful place to spend a September evening. Jonas, another of our favorite former Winds waiters, was working that night and it was nice to see him again. If you go to the website, you can learn more about the menu, but you can also listen to some great Latin music, check out the local gracing the walls and read reviews.

I'd been hearing about C.J.'s Southern Cooking, which opened not too long ago in the old KFC building, so we tried to go there for breakfast Monday. They didn't open until noon, however, and we were too hungry to wait. I wish we'd either waited or gone to Young's or Corner Cone. Sadly, we went to Sunrise Cafe. I admit that I am prejudiced against it because I want it to still be Dick & Tom's, the great little greasy spoon that used to be there. No pretensions at all, kind of gross, even, with flypaper strips hanging from the ceiling and tears in the booth seating. But terrific diner food, old-fashioned milkshakes served with the extra in the steel mixing cup and a selection of pie slices in spin displays on the counter (which also had spinny stools). However, J has really liked the pancakes at Sunrise in the past, so we put our name in.

An hour later (seriously? An hour wait?), we were finally seated in a dark, gloomy booth whose olive oil can lamp hung low enough that it practically obstructed our view of one another. The booths are not only unpleasant-looking, but uncomfortable, as well. The wildflowers at our table were lovely. That's perhaps the only really good thing I could say about our visit. Our server was unfriendly, even somewhat surly, as were all of the staff. Terminally hip, but not terribly nice. Perhaps they were just harried and understaffed? I'll extend the possibility. I ordered organic (and most likely fair trade) hot chocolate, which came in a darling little pot and was neither hot nor very chocolate-y at all, more akin to cocoa-tinted water. When I asked to have coffee instead, the server looked at me as if to say, "Are you freaking kidding me???" I quickly amended my request to, "Or maybe more powder?" as she stalked away. She did soften a bit when she came back to check on us after the results of adding chocolate powder to lukewarm water turned out to be disastrous, asking if I needed more hot water. By that time, I had given up. I really did try, but I just couldn't bring myself to drink it. She did, however, save her tip by asking. I almost always tip 20% if the service is decent. I was headed for 10% but bumped it to 15%, utterly shocking J, who thought I'd leave no tip at all.

The food, when it came after another interminable wait, was not that great. The chorizo in my Mexican omelet did, at least, have some flavor and the jam for the English muffin was pretty good., but I was not thrilled with my food. J liked her scrambled eggs just fine but the bacon was thoroughly overcooked. The chocolate bread French toast was misnamed, turning out to be chocolate chip bread "French toast." I don't use quotation marks lightly, but in this case, I feel justified. The dish was more akin to grilled hunks of chocolate chip bread than like any French toast I've ever had. It also had an unpleasant undertone of rotted fruit. I wasn't terribly surprised when I got sick a few hours later. I should have heeded my friend Aaron's warning to stay away. Sunrise Cafe, I shall never darken your doors again.