Sunday, November 6, 2011
This year I took my time selecting a place at which to have a birthday dinner date with SP. Past birthday dinner dates have been at Eleven, Casbah, Wild Rosemary. I wanted something different. I finally picked Willow, a restaurant at which we dined on New Years Eve 2007. We had not been back since, and that's a shame because Willow is a lovely place.
It's on Camp Horne Road. There are several rooms inside - I think there are 9 dining rooms - and on both our visits we have been seated in the room through the bar area and to the left. Our server introduced himself and asked if we had dined at Willow before, explained that they just rolled out a new menu, and pointed out several small plates and large plates for us to consider. I'm not sure if the choices he high-lighted are his personal favorites, or dishes many people order and enjoy, or if they were simply dishes to which the restaurant wished to steer diners that evening.
After giving us a few moments to peruse the wine/cocktail menu and food menu, our server returned with some bread:
For beverages, I ordered a glass of Grayson Zinfandel and SP stuck with iced tea. It was interesting that when SP checked into Willow at foursquare, it was listed as a wine bar. They do have a happy hour Monday through Saturday 5 pm - 7 pm (half off selected draft beers, $3.50 house wines, several $6 cocktails). On Thursdays Willow has 'Uncork'd' which is half off a selection of wine by the glass and by the bottle.
The menu is divided into 'small plates' (appetizers) and 'large plates' (entrees) and several small plates also make an appearance under 'large plates.' There were several small plates I wanted to try (the gnudi with veal meatballs, the risotto cakes) but I chose the Grown Up Mac & Cheese - orecchiette pasta, braised short rib, caramelized onions, spinach, brie cream sauce baked with herbed bread crumbs:
SP chose Shellfish Trio - seared scallop and Korean bbq pork belly, miso caramel & marinated shitake, lump crab cake with red onion caper sauce, broiled shrimp, scallion coulis:
roasted brussel sprouts, stewed lentils, apple & duck jus.
I chose Braised Lamb Pappardelle - braised lamb shank, caramelized leeks, rosemary grilled wild mushrooms, fresh pappardelle pasta, red wine fig reduction, shaved fontina cheese.
I ordered a decaf coffee and SP ordered a decaf cappuccino while we thought about dessert:
Once we saw the dessert menu, we knew. There was no way we were passing up the funnel cake:
We both really enjoyed our food at Willow. I definitely ate way too much as after we left I felt super stuffed and had to roll down the window in the car for some cool, fresh air to help me feel better. Our server was friendly, knowledgeable, prompt, didn't rush us but didn't take too much time. He didn't get all freaked out over my olive oil issue. He made sure SP's iced tea and my coffee were kept filled. No complaints.
I can't remember the old menu at Willow, but I love the new menu and I am looking forward to going back soon.