The Winds Café – Eclectic people and diverse menu
Dinner with friends seemed to draw us to Yellow Springs. Just about 20 minutes from downtown Dayton, there really is something for all tastes in Yellow Springs. A community that prides itself on acceptance is also home to a broad spectrum of artistry. Tucked onto one of the quaint streets is The Winds Café. Rich with a tradition of fine dining – and by fine dining, I don’t mean tablecloths and stuffy – it’s just great food. The tradition continues and was in full swing when we visited this week.
We strolled along the street looking in shop windows on our way to dinner. Art studios, a recently remodeled movie theater, book stores, coffee shops, etc. This is the kind of town where you want to spend a lazy day off.
We walked toward the entrance to The Winds Café, noticing their heated patio dining. We opted for dining room seating. There is a full bar where you could also dine or enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail. We were seated and cheerfully greeted by Susan (who proved to be quite the amazing server – more to follow). Now, menus abound here – there is the tabletop menu of wine options – soup of the day options and meal specials. Then, there is the prix-fixe menu offering a salad, entrée and dessert. Finally, there is the wine list and the regular menu. Whew! It’s a lot to read. However, it’s worth it. So, just relax, enjoy a drink and order an appetizer – small plate – to share while you look over options.
Kathy and I can decide quickly. Steve, not so much! However, there are reasons … Steve has some very serious food/nut allergies. This is where our server Susan really started to excel.
You see, Susan, upon learning of this allergy, went into stealth mode. She knew details about each and every menu item that usually can only be garnered from the chef. However, if there was even the slightest bit of doubt she said that she would get the answer.
Additionally, she knew enough to let Steve know exactly how things were prepared and that there were things that she would just shy away from, and that she would make notes to insist on hand washing to avoid any cross contamination. Finally, she spoke to the chef just to be certain about every detail. I was impressed beyond belief!
That out of the way, we decided to share the Naked Garlic – roasted garlic served aside an eggplant and tomato relish and accompanied by a cream cheese and pimento spread, served with grilled sourdough. The mix of flavors was superb. The sweet roasted garlic on the buttered toast – accompanied by the relish and a shmear – was a delight!
Entrées were ordered; Kathy chose the strip steak, Steve chose the salmon and I chose the pork chop. We chatted while waiting, enjoying drinks and appreciating the local art that is shown throughout the restaurant – all of it for sale.
The entrées were served – the pork chop served atop a bed of scalloped potatoes and topped with caramelized apples, with a side of bok choy. The salmon was grilled and served with a red beet risotto was accompanied by a sage oil sauce. The strip steak was perfectly grilled, topped with mushrooms and served with a side of scalloped potatoes and a side of bok choy. Each entrée was full of flavor, perfectly prepared, beautifully presented and simply delicious. There was nothing left on our plates! So, while we adjusted to this fabulous meal, dear Susan arrived with the dessert menu. Even though we were totally full, we simply had to consider dessert!
The consideration didn’t take long. We decided to share a bosc pear. Kathy decided she wanted a Spanish coffee, which looked innocent enough, but packed a punch! The bosc pear, while it sounded simple and healthy, it was quite the dessert. The pear was roasted and standing in marsala and red wine and basted, allowing the wine to pull the flavor into what became a delicious syrup. Topped with mascarpone and accompanied by shortbread, the bosc pear made for the perfect compliment to a delicious dinner.
This casual dinner with friends turned into quite the evening of fine dining with no fuss, just amazing food and superb service.
The Winds Café serves lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Make reservations or just stop by. You will not be disappointed. Don’t forget about this gem of Yellow Springs – keep it on your radar. It is definitely worth the short drive for a truly enjoyable dining experience.
The Winds Café is located at 215 Xenia Ave. in Yellow Springs. For more information, please call 937.767.1144 or visit windscafe.com.
Reach DCP food critic Brian P. Sharp at BrianSharp@DaytonCityPaper.com.