Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Weinhard Café - Dayton, WA

A best kept secret and it's such a best kept secret, I need to be reminded of it once in awhile. The only reason I need to be reminded, not because this secret isn't worthy, it's just because of the distance. And every time I do remember to eat there, I always think to myself, "Why don’t I eat here more often?" And then my aunt and uncle, living in the Ski Bluewood area near Dayton, often remind me The Weinhard Café is one of their favorite places to dine.

Again, I was reminded when my DOD group, (Dining Out Diva’s) selected to dine at the Weinhard Café for their "dining experience" in month of September. The Weinhard Café refers to their restaurant as "New American Cuisine." I just refer to it as "fresh and delicious." The Weinhard Café, owned and operated by Tiffany Cain and Mae Schrey, has a casual, yet intimate atmosphere. The restaurant has been opened for eight years and the last four years it has been located at 258 E. Main, across the street from their original spot at the Weinhard Hotel. Sunset Magazine even gave the dining experience a recommendation.

We chose salads as a starter and from a wonderful assortment on the menu from the Mediterranean-style Panzanella to a Farm Tomato Salad. My dining companions all chose the beef tenderlion with corn cakes and fire roasted onion relish as their entree. I, who usually eat meat about once a week, chose a vegetarian meal with fresh made noodles covered with pesto and sitting on top of a crown of new red potatoes and fresh and crunchy haricot vert (Umm...yeah - - tender green beans. I just like writing "haricot vert" to pretend like I am cool and know some French words.)

The wine list at the Weinhard Café is very generous featuring many Walla Walla wines. However, when dining with most of the women staff from Forgeron Cellars - - you drink Forgeron Cellars wine. I have to wonder if beef was on my dining companion's minds ahead of time as a bottle of Forgeron Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon - 2003 traveled with us to the restaurant. Once the cork was pulled and glasses were poured, my Dining Out Diva companions commented on how the elegant Cabernet Sauvignon made for a perfect pairing with their beef tenderloin. And frankly, I didn’t care how it was suppose to pair with my vegetarian bowl of flavorful carbs. All I cared about was how fragrant the nose of blackberries and lilacs wafted from the glass. The deep colored wine was dense with a mouthful of ripe, yet concentrated blackberries. The aroma and flavors from the wine seemed to remove all of the worries in my world. (Please note: when bringing wine into a restaurant, please call ahead regarding corkage fees and wine menus.).

Now, no matter if you have filled up on starters and entrees and you protest and stamp your tiny feet telling your server that you are full and couldn't handle another bite - - stop it. You know you want to and especially when your server teases with the bulletin board list of desserts. My advice? Do not resist. Order! You don’t care if you are full. Just do it! Share if you must, but don’t let their desserts get away. I chose a piece of fresh peach and blackberry pie - - and the crust - - oh my - - flakey, buttery and a hint of sweetness. Probably one of the best crusts I have ever tasted. My dining companions had some chocolate-type of desserts, and again - - I could have cared less as I was so involved with my own dessert. But what I can tell you about their chocolate dessert is I kept hearing these moans and sighs of joy and "yums" at the other end of the table.

The Weinhard Café is open Tuesday - Saturday with lunch hours from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and dinner starting at 5:00 pm. And just in case - I would recommend reservations. Seriously - it’s worth the miles.

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