Saturday, October 8, 2016
As a few kinds friends have noticed, the frequency of my restaurant reviews has taken a nosedive over the past two or three years (my most recent post was more than a year ago, in fact). Why? Several reasons, the first of which is that we simply don't go out to eat as often as we used to. Also, we don't venture as far away from home on day trips, so finding new spots doesn't happen often. And last, largely as a natural offshoot of the first two reasons, we tend to stick to places we already know and love. Quite honestly, I can't remember the last time we ate at a new-to-us restaurant (well, at least one that was memorable and/or that stayed in business long enough for me to compose a review).
Admittedly, this one is some distance from home (roughly 80 miles, in fact) - and honestly, we can't take the credit for finding it. Over the past few years, we've missed seeing our friends Marcia and her husband Rich, who live south of Columbus, Ohio. She's been my best friend since grade school; they married not long before we did, and she was the matron of honor at our wedding way back in 1962. We used to count on seeing each other for annual class reunions (Jackson Local High School near Union City, Indiana), but Jack and I haven't been able to get there since our 50th a handful of years back. So, Rich got the great idea of meeting somewhere in the middle; Wooster, he decided, was a good fit, so he searched for restaurants in that area and came up with this one.
And what a great place it is! As is our custom, we checked the website, but it really didn't come close to describing the place. Driving in, we were surprised to see the 25,000-square-foot historic 1868 landmark barn gift shop/restaurant building (well landscaped and, given the time of year, walkways lined with huge pots of colorful chrysanthemums that could be purchased at an extremely reasonable price. Had we not been facing an hour-and-a-half drive back home, we'd have snapped up a couple of pots for sure. There's also a barn mostly for tree farm business (there are some 75,000 trees on the property), a lovely gazebo decorated for fall and, if you look out back, which we did, views of man-made lakes and the scenic Kilbuck Valley.
Just inside the main building is the restaurant entrance, but our eyes quickly shifted to take in an amazing array of gorgeous furniture, jewelry, specialty greeting cards and the doorway to the year-round Christmas Shop. We poked around a little bit, but since we didn't have lunch reservations, we checked in with the hostess and were called to our table almost immediately. On that topic, BTW, since the website suggests that reservations are recommended, Rich called ahead of time and was told they wouldn't be needed. But when we arrived around 11:30, the first question we were asked was if we had one. Judging from the number of people already seated and coming through the door, then, next time we'll be sure to follow the website's advice.
The sunny fall day prompted us to ask for a table on the roofed-covered outdoor patio; our friendly server appeared momentarily to take our drink orders. The restaurant does serve wine - including a couple of varieties from Breitenbach Wine Cellars in Dover - but since our favorite fruit wines weren't on the menu (and we were facing a long drive back home), we passed on that in favor of soft drinks, coffee and water.
Then, it was time to choose our entrees, and the decisions didn't come easily. The website doesn't begin to list all the possibilities; in addition to the printed menu, our server ran through the quiche, salad, crepe and soup du jour, making our selections even harder. Marcia went first, as I recall, choosing the grilled chicken raspberry salad with a raspberry dressing (one of a couple of options I was considering seriously as well). For her side, she asked for an apple-cinnamon muffin. Since she picked one of my possibilities, I figured she'd give me a taste if I wanted, so I settled on the crepes du jour - filled with veggies - and the creamy chicken noodle soup. Rich and Jack both favored the French onion soup - Jack's accompanied by a wrap that contained chicken and veggies and Rich's with another kind of sandwich.
Suffice it to say we had no complaints about the delicious food - Jack said the French onion soup was especially good, though some might argue there's almost too much cheese on top - and I loved my creamy chicken noodle soup. Marcia's salad was indeed delicious, as was the muffin (although because the salad was so large and filling, most of her muffin ended up on her husband's plate). As for prices, I'll admit that because we were spending so much time looking at photos and catching up on what's been happening with our families, I paid little attention to costs. Just to provide some idea, though, my soup and crepe lunch special was $10.99, and I did notice several items priced a bit lower and higher.
After we finished and had been occupying a table for a long while, we saw that other diners were filtering in for a later lunch. So out of courtesy we vacated ours and headed back to the three-floor shopping area. To our regret, we didn't have much time to poke around - skipping the grocery and Will Moses art gallery entirely - he's the great grandson of Grandma Moses - but we did do a walk through the Christmas Shop and section near the check-out counter with everything from jewelry to soap (I couldn't resist a bar of the latter, amaretto scented). While we looked, Rich went back to the bakery to snag a couple of the lemon crumb muffins, apparently the specialty here - we noticed several other people with carryout boxes of them.
Finally, we called it an afternoon - going our separate ways once again to be sure we'd get back home before the end-of-work traffic. On our way, we enjoyed the beautiful rural scenery (at least until we reached the interstate highway that would take us within a couple of miles from our house). Will we do this again? In a heartbeat. In fact, we're already planning another meet-up before the snow flies. And this time, you can bet I won't leave without a box of those wonderful muffins for our very own.
If you go:
Granary Restaurant at Pine Tree Barn
4374 Shreve Road (SR 226)
Wooster, Ohio 44691
Open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Lunch served daily 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.