Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Berryville Grille, Berryville

Living as we do east of Winchester right on the border with neighboring Clarke County, it is often easier to get into downtown Berryville, the county seat of Clarke County, than it is to battle the traffic to get into Winchester. We'd go there more often if there were any places to eat of note, but if you think that Winchester is a culinary wasteland, visit Berryville to put things in perspective.

I have heard over the last couple years that Berryville Grille is a decent place to eat, so we decided to run over on Monday night for an early dinner. The place is a small storefront café right on Main St.; I've driven by it a zillion times before. We were seated in the window looking out on Main St. and presented with menus, double-sided laminated legal sheets that are very well laid out and well organized. The menu is clean and simple. I like that. The prices are very reasonable.

Tempura Tuna Skewers
We decided to order two appetizers, an entrée salad, and a hot entrée. For appetizers, we ordered Tempura Tuna Skewers and Chicken Empanadas. When Ann ordered the tuna, the server asked her how she wanted it cooked. I hate it that we live in a place where this is even a question.

The tuna came to the table as you see here, a small steak bias-cut, skewered, and battered. It was sitting on a bed of seaweed salad and drizzled with (too much, in my opinion: though I am well known for disliking sauces) wasabi mayo and hoisin sauce. I didn't find that the cup of sweet chili sauce added anything to the plate. The tuna was fine and cooked rare as ordered.

The chicken empanadas came with chips and a green sauce called chimichurri. I don't understand the chips on the plate: the empanadas are fine and stand all on their own.

Chicken Empanadas
The pastry on the empanadas is great, maybe better than mine, though that's comparing apples and oranges as mine is a wholly different style of pastry. But, it was deep-fried and tasted like whatever was in the fryer before it. I wanted more flavor in the chicken.

As for the chimichurri, I really liked it a lot. But in my experience chimichurri is a loose sauce that readily separates. This sauce is emulsified and in my experience, it would be called a salsa verde.

The salad Ann chose was Heidi’s Mighty Buffalo Chicken Salad, nice lettuces with fried chicken breast bits tossed in wing sauce, blue cheese,  canned sliced American-style black olives, tomatoes, and shredded cheese. I found the two kinds of cheese to clash, but the salad wasn't bad. The lettuces were very nice.

I ordered the brined pork chop with jalapeño mash, BBQ gravy, and sautéed vegetables.We were disappointed in this dish. The pork was boneless, not something I ever imagined a chop to be, and the marinade dominated the flavor. The mash was OK if just a little on the pasty side (more milk would have helped). I didn't care for the gravy. The frozen vegetables on the plate were not good. We left ours as a gift to the trashcan. For all my nitpicking though, it was a reasonable plate of food for the price charged.

Bottom line: dinner was worth what we paid for it and we will go back. The food was good, the prices were reasonable, and we love to support local independent restaurateurs.

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