When we arrived at 7:30, it was still 90 in downtown Winchester and the air was a damp sponge. Inside the restaurant was only a bit cooler and dryer. We were seated a room away from a large noisy party of wine tasters with a view of Indian Alley through sheer curtains over dirty windows--both needing a good wash. Peeling wallpaper in the men's room was also not a good omen.
Our server, professional and helpful, brought us a small, crusty loaf of good hot bread and the two glasses of wine recommended for our appetisers--a decent Pinot Noir and a good Chenin Blanc. The scallop, pork and grits and the smoked bluefish potato cakes arrived promptly, both well presented but in quite small portions. I liked the scallop a lot, but my wife was less happy, having assumed from the menu description that the bluefish would be part of the potato cakes rather than just a tiny accompaniment.
Because it was too hot for a heavy meal, we split the squash cake entree, a house specialty, to save room for dessert. It arrived blackened on the bottom and should never have left the kitchen. The unburnt portions with fennel, cheese and dill in the grilled squash puree were tasty. The carrot and cabbage slaw was crunchy, cold and a nice contrast to it. The cucumbers and sour cream garnish added a cool touch. However, as with the appetisers, portion size was on the skimpy side, even if it had been executed properly.
Given the room's temperature near the window, we were ready for a cool dessert, but "panne cotte" turned out to be only Greek yogurt with berries; we skipped it.
Running a good restaurant is a species of performance art. This place needs a better director. Try Violino instead (about two blocks away, where our lunch experience the previous day had been superior).
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