Christman's Windham House (dt)
6.00 – 7, 7, 6, 6, 6, 5.5, 5.5, 5

 

The second of our eight repeat choices found our fearless troupe of eight at Christman’s Windham House on a rare Sunday evening for a 6 p.m. reservation. (We had dined there in June 2006.)
              Christman’s is a classic 19th century turnpike inn, graced by two-story Greek columns with double porches which were romantically illuminated upon our departure. The entrance leads past a cozy bar area, the reception desk, and sitting area before entering the dining area comprised of three contiguous rooms, all enveloped in a “whiter shade of pale.” The back room where we were seated, according to the menu, is the newest of the three rooms (1968) although the tin-look ceiling makes it feel older. Vertical stripes of light cream and beige, divided by a white chair rail, topped with the white tin ceiling, pierced by three white columns, reflects the dozen wall-mounted candle-effect lights which were pleasantly, not overly, bright.
              We were escorted to a larger-than-usual round table in the corner, our favorite choice, and entered a reasonably busy evening which would quiet by departure time. Within five minutes of seating, two baskets of soft French style bread with individually wrapped butter slices kept the munchers at bay while the water glasses were filled (and were filled often). Beige linens, a pink carnation centerpiece, solid yet attractive silverware, and comfortable chairs finished the preliminaries.
               Specials were announced (a Sunday-Monday $13.95 soup-salad-entrée deal) and the drink order was taken – two bottles of Beringer 2006 Pinot Noir Century 3 (a very hearty pn, I thought, but good), a glass of champagne, and two diet sodas. The drink order took nearly twenty minutes to arrive, a harbinger of the generally slow service.
               Next, the two soups (part of the specials) – a velvety potato-leek – arrived nearly an hour after seating and the accompanying salads for all arriving five minutes after that. It was a basic salad but fresh, with a small handful of spring-mix greens, with shreds of carrot, a tablespoon of diced tomatoes, several onion half-rings, a half-dozen quartered cucumber slices, topped with the house dressing – a light creamy dressing with some herbs – filling most of a sculpted plastic plate.
               Ninety minutes after seating (service seemed to be going as fast as it could but things looked busy), entrées arrived and included: skirt steak (Ken, very good; and Deb K, good); the pork tenderloin schnitzel with apple-bourbon demi-glace (Chay – good, with approvals from Deb K and Don); the steak special – slices of filet-type meat (Kriss – ok,  no wellness order taken); the pork special, with Dijon demi-glace (Tim thought excellent, and a good bargain); the Jumbo Shrimp and Scallops Provencal (Deb thought excellent); the Shrimp, Scallops, Fish and Clams combo on home made linguine (Don and Judy, satisfactory, although the original risotto pairing had us thinking ‘what if?’). All but the pasta dish came with mashed potatoes (more au gratin, I heard someone say, and not much of it) and fresh corn, except for Deb T who wanted no sides.
               Dessert beckoned with peach cobbler (Don, a surprise choice, and  maybe satisfactory); blueberry pie (Kriss, ok, the berries seemed to a bit “fresher” than she was expecting; actually, a bit sour); the blueberry parfait (Judy, so-so; expecting ice cream and not pudding for a base); the rum-walnut cake with vanilla ice cream (Ken, good); angel food cake with berries (Deb T, plain but just right for her this evening); the chocolate-chocolate cake (Deb K, good); Chay his Sambuca and Tim abstained. Dessert can be the crowning touch but not this evening.
               The service tried to be good, was mostly serviceable, attentive and patient, with three different people attending to parts of the service routine, but the slow parts could not be ignored. When the waiter asked if she could get us anything, we wanted to respond – yeah, the entrées. A pot of coffee came out for Ken, a nice touch.
              The tab, including drinks, taxes and tip totaled $81 per couple (a distinct contrast to last month’s adventure).

The evening had started at the Adamses, without the Karneses, with Deb K making her way eastward from Dunkirk, with Chay awaiting. Tim and Judy presented a spread of a plate of peeled shrimp with cocktail sauce, wheat thins and Melba crisps waiting for cheddar cheese and dip, grapes, and salted peanuts. A white zinfandel, a 2005 Sterling Merlot, and soda filled the early drink requests.
             Talk centered mostly about wedding plans and the usual chitchat about recent goings-on.
             Later talk included the Adams grandchildren, the Teators’ busy weekend, the women’s night out for Footloose at Mac-Haydn two nights before, the Adamses’ attendance at a wedding, some minor school talk, Deb K’s mom, and more.
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