Making pimento cheese sticks
One of the most disappointing things for any diner to encounter is a restaurant that fails to live up to its potential. Make that doubly so for a restaurant reviewer.
From the outside, the Woodford Inn looks the very picture of a charming small-town inn that a traveler would be thrilled to stumble upon. That impression continues upon entering the foyer, and seeing a small bar on one side and a parlor on the other.
Alas, that impression fades at the door to the inn’s restaurant, Addie’s. Some people might say that a restaurant should be judged solely on the quality of its food, but patrons who stay (or dine) at an intimate inn expect a more comprehensive experience: Food, service and ambience all play a part.
Ambience — at least the kind that would make a diner want to settle in for a relaxing evening — is pretty much nonexistent at Addie’s. An inn’s dining room doesn’t have to resemble a Laura Ashley showroom, but neither should it look like a campus coffee shop. Addie’s, with its scattering of tables and chairs, alas does, and it does little to encourage guests to linger.
If ambience fails to impress, service gets a mixed review. Our server was amiable in the extreme and eager to please, but she simply didn’t have enough knowledge to answer questions a discerning diner might have.
My dining companion, who is quite the foodie, had several questions about what she was ordering that the server frankly admitted she didn’t know. This is on management, which should tutor servers on just exactly what it is they are serving.
The food also gets mixed reviews. Our entrees didn’t entirely impress. My friend had the pork chop ($19), which she said was a bit too dry and should have had been more liberally brushed with its Dijon honey glaze.
On a previous visit, I had the fish and chips ($10), which our server said was the number one seller, and they were deserving of their status, but this time I went with the more exotic Low Country Shrimp Boil ($19).
It had the typical ingredients complementing the shrimp: Andouille sausage, corn on the cob and new potatoes, topped with a Cajun compound butter. If my friend’s pork chop was too dry, my boil was a bit overpowered by the spices, which caused the shrimp to all but disappear. Spices are good, but too much ruins a classic dish.
If we didn’t love our entrees, we did love the appetizers, which we thought were the most interesting items on the menu. We started with the stuffed banana peppers ($9). The peppers and cream cheese were folded into a won ton, and the pepper slices could have been thinner to make eating them easier, but it was delectable, although be forewarned: They are spicy.
An even better entree was the pimiento cheese sticks ($8). The homemade pimiento cheese, mixed with bacon crumbles, is encased in a pastry, fried to a deep golden brown and served with a ranch dressing dipping sauce. They are so delicious that my friend and I were almost fighting over who would get the last one.
We also liked the charcuterie platter ($16), easily large enough for four people. It’s composed of salami, prosciutto, goat cheese, feta and white cheddar, and a house-made mozzarella, olives and house-made pickles.
I loved the tartness of the pickles and the creaminess of the mozzarella, and when I commented on it to the server, I was told that it was only on the summer menu. When I asked why, she couldn’t say. Note to management: Leave it on the menu all year.
Addie’s does have price point going for it. With entrees ranging from $10 to $24, it is affordable. But it could easily be so much more. All it needs is a little attention to detail — the kind one expects from a small country (or in this case, city) inn.
Patti Nickell is a Lexington-based travel and food writer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.