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Archive for the ‘restaurants’ Category

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The front of the lovely old mansion—that’s not the entrance to the cafe

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Entrance this side 

Incredibly Delicious was indeed delicious!

When we went to Springfield recently with a friend to see a bit of Abraham Lincoln history, we thought we would try to have lunch at somewhere a bit out of the ordinary. Our friend had researched and came up with this place, called Incredibly Delicious. It certainly fit the bill and we were happy to try it.

It’s housed in a beautiful historic mansion, so the cafe is a number of smallish connected rooms, most with four or so small to medium tables, all with bright tablecloths in a lemons pattern. There is nice artwork on the walls, much by local artists apparently, and several stained glass windows that add to the lovely ambience. The vintage bathroom fixtures and hardwood floors also add to that.

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VfoodThe main entrance is on the west side (not the front of the house—that door is locked), through a pretty garden. You order your food and/or bakery items at a counter towards the back of the building. There’s only one register, so you may need to wait a little, but the line moves pretty quickly. Get a number and find a table and someone brings the food out. Service was reasonably quick, I think because we’d missed the lunchtime rush. Apparently it’s very popular with both locals and tourists.

The menu changes regularly. That day we had three-cheese quiche with a bowl of tomato soup, and mushroom quiche with tomato soup. The food was very good and filling, so we didn’t need any dessert which meant we didn’t try the pastries—people told us they are wonderful. Coffee was also good.

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The bathroom was decorated for Christmas

People were buying pastries and bread to take home too, and there was a sign up at the counter that one could order special items for Christmas, including Buches de Noel (a French Christmas cake in the shape of a log). I wish we’d known beforehand, as we’d love to have a Buche de Noel again. Oh well!

This will definitely be on our list whenever we return to Springfield—which we will do at some stage, to bring visitors to see Abraham Lincoln sights.

Address: 925 S 7th St, Springfield

Hours: 7:30am-10:30 am for breakfast daily

Lunch 11am-2:30pm Mon-Fri, 11am-2pm Sat

Bakery 7:30am-3pm

 

 

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Ruvos stretches out to the back of the building

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entranceRuvos Italian Restaurant

As I recently wrote about, we stayed in Connellsville in southwestern Pennsylvania and used it as our base to visit the many wonderful sights around there—for example, Frank Lloyd Wright houses, the Laurel Highlands, the Flight 93 Memorial.

Connellsville is not very big but is an interesting city on the Youghiogheny River (how do you pronounce that?!), with a couple of good places to eat or stop for a drink or cup of coffee. One is Hutch, which I wrote about before. Another is Ruvos, which serves good food and highlights the strong Italian influence around here (see an earlier post).

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Vera G enjoying the dishes

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Note all the posters and photos

We could walk to Ruvos from our hotel, so we decided to do that one evening. It offers a large menu, but we discovered is not licensed. However, you can BYOB, so Rod walked back to the hotel and brought a bottle of wine. This is not a big restaurant inside, although there is a large seating area outside, unused that night as it was raining heavily.

The décor is Italian-inspired, with posters—notably of Frank Sinatra in Italy—and photos, many of the owner’s family in Italy. One of the young servers told us he was the owner’s nephew and we heard a little of the Italian history of the family.

So, it came as no surprise that the menu offered all kinds of typical (in our opinion) Italian-style dishes. We chose a number of different ones to share between the three of us, as that way we could get a taste of more. Good plan.

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foodThe food was pretty good, the service excellent and the ambience very nice. If we are ever in Connellsville again we would definitely return.

 

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Rod inside Hutch’s

signdoorWe were recently visiting southwest Pennsylvania, mainly to see Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water and his other houses in the area. We decided to stay in Connellsville, as it seemed to be fairly central to the places we wanted to visit, and that was the case. Connellsville is southeast of Pittsburgh (where we flew to), so it wasn’t too difficult to navigate the rental car to the town. We stayed at the Cobblestone Inn and Suites, right on the Youghiogheny River (an unpronoucable name!), and our room overlooked the river, which was great.

A number of places to eat are listed in the local brochure from the Visitors’ Center, but this one was recommended by a local woman who served us in the Liquor Store. She raved about it, and the French onion soup and steaks in particular, and the other server agreed, so we decided to try.

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French onion soup

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Part of the collection

Hutch’s Tap Room and Supper Club looks fairly unassuming from the outside, but is totally different inside. There is a large bar area to the left as you go in, and table seating to the right. Lighting is not very bright, but what immediately catches your eye is the eclectic collection of “things” all around the sides of the large room and on the walls. It’s a really motley collection, with old family photos, posters of Superman, busts and lamps of Elvis, Halloween stuff, lighted beer ads, …you name it! It was fun to roam around looking, wondering who collected it all and whether they had some kind of theme in mind.

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Veronita enjoys the French onion soup

But, besides the interesting collection, the ambience was very pleasant: pretty crowded, but friendly people, all chatting. Our waitress was sweet and helpful, explaining the menu and some of the old photographs when she realized that we were new to town.

The food was also pretty good, the French onion soup indeed outstanding—one of the best we’ve ever had! We’d happily return.

 

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Lovely small plate at Le Petit Cochon

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Venison carpaccio with soft cheese and hazel nuts at Ox and Finch

I’ve just posted this on my Celtic Connections blog.  So, please check out the link below. On our very recent trip to Glasgow we were so pleasantly surprised to discover a new food scene, very different to many of the meals we had in past visits to Scotland.

https://vivscelticconnections.wordpress.com/2019/09/16/eating-in-glasgow/

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The winery with lawns for picnics and pretty indigenous-plant gardens (fynbos)

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Proteas, South Africa’s national flower, grow well in this area

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View down to the lake and white Noordhoek Beach

Cape Point Vineyards

Continuing with the theme of new (to us) wineries in the Cape, we now move to the actual Cape Peninsula. We have family who live in the town of Kommetjie near Noordhoek Beach and they suggested we have lunch at Cape Point Vineyards. We’d never even heard of this winery before, so it was a big surprise to drive out of Kommetjie a short way in the direction of Cape Town, go up a hill and discover another gorgeous winery with a stunning location.

The winery sits on a hill, with vineyards above and below, and a sweeping view down to the long white sands of Noordhoek Beach. There’s indoor seating, or on a long verandah that looks out at the view. Directly below are gardens and a big expanse of lawn where people can also sit and have a picnic. A short way down is a small lake with a pier.

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winery from the pier

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Some of the vines

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Lunch on the verandah

The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, all with this fantastic view of the ocean, fynbos, mountains, vines. I imagine that sunset views over the Atlantic Ocean must be spectacular. They also cater for functions, like weddings—what a gorgeous location. You can visit the cellar for tastings and there’s a Thursday market.

We had lunch there, on the verandah. Most people had different salads, all very good. Our little people were happy too, running around and looking at the large fish tanks.

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roselabelFor wines, they have the Cape Point Vineyards range, and the Splattered Toad range, and they also sell wines from the Cape Town Wine Company. Our group tried the Cape Town Wine Co rosé and the cabernet sauvignon/merlot—both very good. Because the vines grow between the mountains and the sea, the cool ocean breezes make for a slow growing season, resulting in a late harvest and unique wines.

Cape Point Vineyards was mentioned by Platter as the Inaugural Winery of the Year in 2008. Founded just over two decades ago by businessman Sybrand van der Spuy, it remains the only wine farm on the narrow southern tip of the Cape Peninsula. Plantings are limited to only 22 hectares (about 54 acres) in Noordhoek, focusing on sauvignon blanc and Semillon.

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cabmerlotlabelMore About Cape Town Wine Co

One of the pioneers of wine making in the Cape was Dutch Meldt van der Spuy, who first came as a tenured soldier with the Dutch East India Company. He later returned, became a vryburger (free citizen) and married a local heiress, Maria van der Poel. He prospered, bought wine properties and exported wine. Meldt’s descendant, Sybrand van der Spuy, owns Cape Point Vineyards today and founded  the Cape Town Wine Co.

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Some of their vines

Idiom and Da Capo Vineyards on Knorhoek Estate, Knorhoek Road, Sir Loury’s Pass (also spelled Lowry’s).

This is one of the wine estates in the western Cape that we have not visited before and it makes us realize how much more there is to explore. A family member who lives in nearby Somerset West knew it and suggested we go there for lunch. We’re very happy that we did, as it’s a lovely place.

The Da Capo Vineyards recently opened (in 2016) a charming new wine tasting center and restaurant high on the Helderberg, with truly jaw-dropping views. It took three years to complete and co-owner Roberto Bottega (a son) hopes it will help promote their wine brand to the next level. Italian grape varieties make up many of their wines as their heritage is Italian, and the menu is largely Italian-themed to complement this.

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The restaurant and wine tasting bar are on the upper level, when we see the building from the front lawn

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We pass a duck farm on the way up the hill

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View down to the sea

There’s a tasting bar and restaurant, which is open for lunch and special events. You drive into the small town of Sir Loury’s Pass and look for the sign for Idiom, the fairly steep road leading up the hill on the left. It’s a bumpy drive past horses, ducks and sheep. Then you reach the parking lots, walk up to the buildings of Idiom and… WOW! The view is stunning and unexpected after the drive up—mountains, valley, rolling hills, vines, trees, large rocks, pretty gardens.

The huge modern building is really well placed, overlooking the valley and the mountains and down to the sea (False Bay). When you first arrive at the entrance from the parking lot you don’t realize that it’s actually on two levels, as it’s built on a slope. The tasting room and restaurant are on the top level, but we only realized that when we saw the that it’s built out over the slope. It’s surrounded by luscious green lawns, a small garden with indigenous plants, and lots of big rocks. On the edge of the lawn is a wonderful statue of a naked man with arms stretched above his head, as though he’s calling on the gods or praising the view or ? (more on that later).

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Entrance to Idiom

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Steps lead down to the gardens and large front lawn

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The statue is perfectly placed

lunchYou sit upstairs and if you’re lucky (or have booked, which is recommended as it’s become very popular) you’ll get a window table on one of the two sides looking out, or on the outdoor terraced area. We didn’t, but it was still fine. The large room is open and light with huge windows, tables nicely set, and interesting art pieces dotted around.

 

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One of the art pieces

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And another, in the tasting bar

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Antipasto plate

We (four people) had an antipasto plate, which arrived with a basket of delicious homemade bread, and shared two pizzas: one had ostrich carpaccio and prickly pear chutney, called Cape pizza; the other had zucchini, feta and white anchovy, called Sicilia pizza. I’m not normally a pizza fan, but these really were very good and the ostrich one had those South African inspired toppings. We had a bottle of their Bianco wine (made with Pinot Grigio grapes), which was pleasant, and bought a Viognier to take home, which was very good. Our waitress was very friendly and helpful, as were the other wait staff that we spoke to.

 

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Ostrich carpaccio pizza

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Sicilia pizza

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View out of Idiom. Note the interesting figures

Bit of background

We asked our waitress why the name “Idiom” and she told us it meant “new beginning”. That didn’t seem right to us, so we checked on  the Idiom website.

Da Capo (the name of the vineyards) means “from the beginning” or “from the Cape” in Italian, referring to the fact that the vineyards were laid out and planted on the farm for the first time in 1999. It was started by Alberto Bottega and his family. Alberto was born in Italy and moved with his family to Cape town in 1950 as a boy. He had a career in scientific research and finance but fulfilled his retirement dream of wine farming when he moved back to the Cape in 1998. Da Capo vineyards now has one of the largest selections of Italian varietals in South Africa that reflect the Bottega family’s heritage. The 18 different varietals are harvested at the farm at optimal ripeness, then sorted by hand, offering a direct comparison between the famous wines of Bordeaux and the Rhone, Tuscany and Piedmont, but from Cape terroir.

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More of their vines—looks like a rocky vineyard!

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Our lunch wine

They are now also selling perfumes, and leather goods—an idea inspired by daughter Silvana Bottega, who has experience in the luxury sector.

http://idiom.co.za

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Missouri River from Blufftop Bistro

Les Bourgeois Vineyards

About 15 miles west of Columbia MO on I-70 west is a small town, Rocheport (exit 115). It might be small but it has a lot going for it.

This could be done as a long day trip from St Louis but, if you’re going to try the wines at the Vineyards, it’s probably best to stay the night somewhere close, either in Rocheport or in Columbia. We were visiting our grandson at Mizzou in Columbia and did a day trip from there.

We like wine and have done many wine tastings in many countries (and even in Missouri long ago, close to St Louis) but, I have to be honest, we were a bit skeptical about somewhere in central Missouri producing decent wines. Anyway, it sounded like a fun new adventure that our grandson had planned so off we went.

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View from Bistro patio. Down there, by the wine barrels, outdoor weddings are often held

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Walking down to the Bistro

There were two parts to this trip: lunch at Les Bourgeois Vineyards Blufftop Bistro and tasting wine at Les Bourgeois Vineyards Tasting Room, two separate places (and two separate posts).

Les Bourgeois Vineyards Blufftop Bistro

Just to the right as you come off the highway is the winery and tasting room, but about a mile further down the road is the turnoff for the bistro. Our grandson had made a reservation for lunch (absolutely essential) so we headed for the bistro first. Drive in past some vineyards and park and then you have to walk on a looping path down the hill to the restaurant, the Missouri River ahead of you. On the way down, we passed a lovely sculpture of an eagle in flight. In the restaurant later, we found another sculpted eagle soaring near the ceiling rafters—eagles are probably seen along the river here in the colder months.

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Lovely eagle sculpture

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An eagle even soaring inside the Bistro

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On the patio

roomThe bistro building is on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River, so the setting is superb. We were there in October so it was too cool to sit outside, but in the warmer weather I can imagine that the outside patio would be wonderful. However, even inside you get a great view of the river, as the restaurant has huge picture windows.

 

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Portabellas stuffed with sweet potato

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Enormous servings for Bahn Mi

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Enough left over for doggie bags!

Les Bourgeois Vineyards Blufftop Bistro is both a restaurant and a venue for special events and that Saturday they were preparing for a wedding. The events room is downstairs and the restaurant is a large, open room on the entrance level. It’s obviously very popular as it was very full and very busy, and we can see why: the service was friendly and excellent, the setting and ambience great, and the food really good. There were four of us and we shared a cheese and charcuterie plate; then two had a Bahn Mi sandwich each (which was enormous, and had enough for a very large doggy bag); one had a stuffed grilled portabella; and one winehad the shrimp salad. We shared a bottle of their in-house dry rose wine, which was fine, if not great.

Next, we went to the Tasting Room (see next post).

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