Tarragon at Inn at Honey Run – Holmes County Ohio

WHAT A GREAT MEAL!  YOU GOTTA HIT THIS PLACE FOR MEAL AND A STAY!

So this place is in Amish country Ohio.  You hear Ohio call itself the heart of it all – this place is exactly why.  You have to drive far to get there – no matter what city you live in.  (its about 70 miles from Cleveland and probably about the same from Columbus) Soft rolling hills, amish buggies being pulled by horses, lots of cows and sheep languishing in lush fields, corn, soybeans and trees.

The Inn at Honey Run is nestled in the side, literally of a little hill and you can walk to dinner past the sheep and the golden rod in the fall.  The rooms are fabulous – modern, with all the amenities and many have their own stone patio to sit on.  You won’t even want to leave to go to Tarragon for dinner.  But you gotta go because its a great meal with a great atmosphere.

The Tarragon restaurant has huge glass windows looking out over the woods – almost all tables sit right by a window.  We ate dinner while watching birds, to include a turkey frolic in the woods.  The restaurant has a clean modern feel but warm not cold and trendy – its quiet and peaceful.

The staff was attentive and Ohio earnest – Ohio friendly.  Our waitress was genuinely thrilled that we enjoyed our meal so.

The menu is contemporary American.  We started with potato gnocchi with blue cheese, apples, and honey.  It was the perfect fall dish.  The flavors combined for an interesting earthy taste but the gnocchi were not overwhelmed by the flavors.

For dinner we had scallops, pea shoots over pureed parsnips with a bit of ginger jam – AWESOME.  Intense flavors combined perfectly to compliment one another.

The dessert selection is diverse and extensive enough that everyone will find something to make them happy.  We shared the vanilla creme brûlée – intense vanilla flavor, smooth as silk with the crunchy topic – a classic prepared to perfection.

One note of warning – Sundays no alcoholic beverages at all – its the law of the county.  You can’t even bring your own in… boy did I want a nice glass of barolo!  Next time.

We finished and went back to the room and silent in the silence on the little porch – heaven.

The Inn at Honey Run

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D.C. Mexican – Give It a Try But Not For Everyone

WAPO’s restaurant critic declared it a contender for D.C.’s best mexican restaurant.  I take issue – its worth a visit but you need to be a particular type of dinner, perhaps one who likes the “next best thing” rather than a fab restaurant experience.

I am talking about Espita Mascaleria that is on the corner of N and 9th in Shaw neighborhood DC.  (side note:  exact location where only about 4-5 years ago on a cold winter night we bought our Christmas tree from the garden center that was there.)  First, its a great location in a fun, emerging part of town.  For out of towners, its easy to get to – a short walk from K Street and only about a block from the Convention Center Green/Yellow line metro.

The decor is heavy – heavy dark wood tables that are really cool looking and, not too deep so you actually feel like you are eating with your dinner partner.  Heavy, dark art with a lot of Mexican influenced skeleton’s and other culture references – its really neat stuff.  Chairs are comfy and there is a great outside patio and decent sized bar.

The atmosphere alone makes it worth a visit – kick back, have a drink, a little mexican food and take it all in – its just a cool, genuinely, not trying to hard hype environment.  Its loud so be ready.

The menu is no question, really legit mexican and it is clearly all fresh.  The mole is its signature with a good variety from light to heavy and spicy.

The menu is meant to be shared – a variety of tapas.  You can select from the offering of interesting tacos (oyster or lamb for example).  They also have a good selection of salsas and ceviche along with some other mexican dishes – salads with avocados etc. and dishes with corn tortillas.

We tried the Hamachi ceviche with pineapple, radishes, a bit of complex, spicy, dense, smoky salsa – super good.  We had the roja salsa and the gaucamole with our chips.  The roja salsa was thick and not too flavorful- reminded me of tomato paste – I would not get it again.  My husband had the pipian pork mole.  It repeated the heavy them – the sauce very heavy and although  a decent mole flavor, it was just too sticky.  The pork melted in your mouth.  I had the fundido – a corn tortilla with a layer of beans, then lettuce, avocado and a mozzaralla type cheese that had a little funkiness to its flavor.  Really it was something I could make it home in about two seconds.

As for drinks – they really want you to try one of their mezcal drinks and the wait staff is more than happy to tell you about the selections.  In its essence mezcal is fermented agave from a particular region of Mexico – the south for the most part – really its tequila but it is good.

The wait staff was engaged, attentive and willing to offer their opinions and recommendations – clearly well-trained.

Here is the thing though – I am a foodie and if I need the waitress to spend what seemed to be about eternity for me to understand what a particular dish consisted of – its no good – too much work and to much mystery.

And… the whole meal took way way too long to get out to us.  Now, to their credit, its good they aren’t hustling us out.  But… good grief – I was actually the one getting irritated, bored and impatient when that is my husband’s role after about 15 minutes.  We were way passed that.  Even when we asked the waitress to bring our check…. she filled up our water glasses and went away as if we never asked – it was almost strange.  Again – I commend them for letting guests linger – so many places turn tables so fast that you are grabbing your plate back from the waiter to get your last bit of dessert.  But this was way too much – in their verve to create an experience – they created a dinner that lasted just way too long.  This includes the interminable wait for our actual meals.

All in all – go for it – like I said – great environment, some interesting selections, knowledgeable staff but I am not compelled to return.

 

Espita Mascaleria, Shaw DC

Blue Ribbon?

My mom, the individual responsible for my love of food, is a determined and often victorious competitor.  She regularly enters not only food she has made but also her crafts into the county fair and wins.  In the event she does not win – she has been known to find the judges and ask how she needs to improve for the next year so she can win.  She has won ribbons with her buckeyes and her apple dumplings.  And, without revealing the state, she is not entering into tiny county fairs in sparsely populated counties.  She is entering her good into one of the larger fairs in our state.

As for crafts, she has won blue ribbons for her rugs that she has braided.  Rug braiding is something the first American settlers did, using old fabric and braiding it together with little metal tools to make a rug.

This year she entered two items:  a braided rug and peach-pineapple jam.  The rug not only one blue ribbon but also best of show – impressive.

As for the jam, did not even place.  When I asked her if she was upset she explained she was not because the jam was not ribbon worthy.  She told me she knew this from the get go – because the peaches were not very flavorful and were mealy.  Plus, she was forced to use the fair mandated pectin (to prove she used it she had to submit the packaging with her jam).  These two factors, according to her resulted in jam, although having a great color, was a bit runny and it did not have very good flavor.

The thing about a talented and determined competitor – even when they don’t win, as long as it was fair and they know why, they are OK with it.  So my mom was OK with no ribbon and as all great competitors do, she is developing her strategy to bring home victory next year.