First Test

So, right after my last post we made a last minute decision to go out for dinner with family. While driving to Jake’s Good Eats I went back and forth trying to decide whether I was going to start abstaining from conventional meat that night or put it off for just one more meal. When we arrived I still hadn’t decided. After looking at the menu, I realized that this place was more upscale than it looked. It’s also well off the beaten path and appears to be on the edge of a farm of sorts. Was it possible that this was a place for a conscious eater?

I made a bold move (one I’m going to have to get used to) and decided to ask the waitress a few questions about the food. Nothing’s local, but she tells me that the chicken is free range and free of antibiotics. That’s good. I mean, it’s not perfect, but it’s edible. Worst case scenario is that it came from a factory farm where free range means thousands of chickens freely ranging under a small, crowded, dark, dusty and disease filled poultry tent. That would definitely take the wind out of my sails. She mentioned that they use Sysco, which has been offering more local and sustainable foods to it’s customers (so they say). There was some hope. Click here to view Sysco’s 2009 Case Study.

There were a few other things about this place that gave me the sense that someone running it was thinking consciously about food. They make all of their own salad dressings. Balsamic vinaigrette was drizzled on the plate with some sauteed leeks and fried green tomatoes. Wow! This was a great start. I could have eaten the entire appetizer, but it was too good not to share.  At first I resisted an offer to try the scallops, but then let my guard down and tried a tiny nibble. Pretty tasty.

I should tell you that when we first pulled up to this restaurant, Haleigh practically shouted in despair and dread “UUUGH! THIS PLACE IS UUUGLY!” After chastising her for being rude and telling her to keep those thoughts to herself, we pulled into a parking spot facing a couple of horses. Things were already looking up for my drama tween.

The restaurant does slightly resemble a shack at first glance. Not really knowing much about this place, I was expecting typical local diner fare, such as hamburgers and maybe some not so healthy country cooking in a dusty old dining room. Corn hole was set up by the front door. The inside is decorated with some antiques and old plaques, but with an artsy touch. The bathroom almost had a sort of boutique feel about it. As it turns out, the place is pretty charming. I don’t know if it was intentional, but the dinnerware was not uniform. All the plates were white, but different shapes and sizes. Maybe the owner doesn’t have the money to purchase uniform sets, or maybe they like it that way. I did. Unfortunately for the wait staff, I noticed it seemed to make clearing tables slightly more difficult.

I’d ordered blackened chicken breast over homemade fettuccine alfredo. There were a few small cherry tomato halves mixed in. They didn’t have much flavor, but the rest of the dish had plenty. I didn’t want to bombard the waitress with questions, but I wish I’d asked what part of the fettuccine alfredo was homemade – the pasta or the sauce or both. I’m guessing the menu was referring to the alfredo sauce, which was very good. There was nothing special about the noodles, though they were more than adequate. They were cooked a little past al dente, but still, it was a good dish. As my sister-in-law pointed out, it would have been better if there were more vegetables mixed in – maybe some spinach or broccoli. The vegetables on everyone else’s plates looked fresh and nicely cooked. But back to my dish. The breastbone was removed from the chicken, but the drummette from the chicken wing was left intact. Nice touch. The skin was also left on, although it was a little too  charred.

This wasn’t a huge portion of food, but plenty in my opinion. I still had enough leftover for lunch the next day. The take out box offered another pleasant surprise. Instead of bringing me one of those eco-unfriendly styrofoam takeout containers, the waitress handed me a nice brown box made from recycled materials. I’m not at the point yet where I’m thinking enough ahead to remember that I don’t want to use those styrofoam ones, so it was nice that they’d thought of it.

While this isn’t a great restaurant (that would be one that uses local and organic ingredients), I still loved it. The real clincher is that it’s just a few miles away from home. There are several things on the menu that I can’t wait to try. Most of the restaurants that I would prefer to dine in, serving fresh, local ingredients, are in south Charlotte and don’t quite fit into our budget. Though I wouldn’t exactly describe this restaurant as cheap, it’s nice to have a semi-conscious option, i. e., one that I don’t have to fear, for an occasional dinner out that’s close to home.

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About Michele
Wife and Mom of three girls doing her best to lead the family into a healthier lifestyle and evolve gracefully.

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