A beckoning beacon


Williams’ Eatery and Gathering Place in Yellow Springs

By Paula Johnson

Photo: Fire Alarm Burger at Williams’ Eatery and Gathering Place in Yellow Springs; photos: Paula Johnson

PIP (Palate In Progress) and I found ourselves in Yellow Springs late on a cold Wednesday evening needing to stop somewhere for dinner. Drawn by the building’s cheery exterior with a brightly lit sign and the warm light emanating from within, we remarked on how inviting Williams’ Eatery and Gathering Place looked after a long day. Neither of us had ever been to Williams’ Eatery, one of the many mainstay restaurants in town. Bedraggled and hungry, we straggled in at nearly 8 p.m. They serve dinner ’til 9, but we found the dining room empty. When this happens, it can go one of two ways: you will either be met with a sigh and eye roll from a server who impatiently rushes you through your meal with the subtlety of a herd of angry rhinos, or you will be treated like royalty by the staff. Happily for PIP and me, our server Susan was in the latter camp. She welcomed us heartily and made it clear she was pleased we were there. Chatting with her throughout the evening, we learned more about the place and the food, the artwork on the walls, and the town of Yellow Springs.


Have a (potato) ball

The dining room itself is quite small with a central aisle and booths and table on either side. “Wow, this place is tiny,” I remarked. “Oh, there’s another patio room right through that door,” Susan pointed out. “We have it open when we’re busy. Weekends have been mobbed lately! And once the weather picks up, it will be open all the time.” Indeed, the time between New Year’s and Valentine’s Day is the slowest for restaurants—it’s no accident many places feature a special restaurant week menu during that period. As for Williams’ menu, PIP and I found a lot to like right away with PIP spying Chorizo Cheese Dip ($9.99) and Papas Rellena ($6.99). I was pleased to see that many small plate versions of larger entrees are offered, allowing for more opportunities to sample a range of dishes. The Papas Rellena, a fluffy fried potato ball stuffed with chunks of seasoned beef tenderloin, raisins, onions, olives, and chopped hard boiled egg comes solo as a small plate. It’s accompanied by a pile of salty, peppery, vinegary onion and carrot slices, providing a sharp piquant taste to cut through the sweetness of the potato and its fillings. Next time, I will order the entrée size. PIP and I sparred over who would get the last bite. The Chorizo Dip was mild and creamy, not particularly spicy. I appreciated the fresh, fried and salted tortilla chips and pita wedges that accompanied the dish. The dip, along with all burgers, was $2 off for a Wednesday night special.

Williams’ Eatery does not have a liquor license but its employees are most happy to uncork at no charge. Susan advised us of several local places should we wish to make a beer run. Neither of us was moving from our comfortable booth; we were quite happy to stick with iced tea. As we munched, we asked about popular items.

“We’re known for our burgers, which are $2 off tonight, and for our fried fish,” Susan reported. That was enough to convince PIP, longtime lover of both. The Pub Style Fish ($5.99 for the small plate) was a cod fillet dipped in a nicely seasoned house made batter, served with a good, tangy tartar sauce—plus a liberal dose of malt vinegar by PIP, who also sprinkled it on the fries he ordered along with his Fire Alarm Burger (usually $10.59). Williams’ burgers are premium aged ground beef and proved quite good, with PIP noting that the meat had a rich beefy flavor to it. Cajun aioli sauce and pepper jack cheese topped the burger along with lots of jalapeños, red onion, and a tomato slice. It was served on a substantial bakery bun, perfect for this spicy, juicy, delicious mess of a burger.


Small plates rate

I love small plates, so I decided on two: East Coast Crab Cakes ($9.99) and Beef Kabob ($6.99) with chimichurri. Rich, well-seasoned crab with light breading to bind, plus a ranch style dipping sauce prompted PIP to say, “Not usually much of a crab cake guy, but I really get this.” The grilled beef kabobs were juicy and tender, wonderful with the clean, herbaceous taste of chimichurri, an Argentinian condiment made with garlic, parsley, red pepper, and wine vinegar—another win for the Williams’ Eatery team.

We were so pleased that, despite being the lone table, the kitchen did not rush us by sending the food out all at once. Everything arrived in a timely but unhurried fashion, adding to the positive impression PIP and I both had of thburis charming little bistro. Another highlight was Susan bringing us a little sample salad to try after we lamented not ordering one. She had told us about the house creamy tropical rum dressing which sounded fantastic, and it was. “I thought you’d like to try it!” she said. I will not miss ordering salad on my next trip.

We closed with Big Chocolate Cake ($5.49), exactly what you’d imagine: a really big piece of cake with layers of chocolate cake, icing, chocolate chips, and chocolate sauce. Well fortified for the journey back home, we spent the drive planning a trip to hike the trails at John Bryant State Park with dinner at Williams’ Eatery and Gathering Place afterward. “You know they’re open for breakfast, too. Maybe we should stop first to try the mango pancakes Susan was telling us about,” PIP suggested. “Then we can go back for those Papas Rellenos and a burger when we’re done.” No argument here!


Williams Eatery and Gathering Place is located at 101 Corry St. in Yellow Springs. For more information, please call 937.319.6200 or visit WilliamsEatery.com.

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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