Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Waitsburg, It's Gonna Happen

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So, you've been to all the wineries in Walla Walla, you've cruised Main Street for hot octogenarians, been to the coffee shops to listen to the teen gossip, and you've tripped on the balloon festival. Now what?

Drive half an hour's worth of east. Seriously. First of all, it's a jaw-dropper drive, especially now in the springtime when the big rolling hills are bright green with new wheat. You'll pass a few teeny picturesque villages with the requisite crumbling barns, then head into what looks like a freaking ghost town. Then you'll be pissed off at me, wondering wtf I made you drive out here for. But you gotta look a little closer.

Ah-hah. There's something. It looks like a cool dive bar. Sure 'nuff, you've found the Lyon's Den, a true specimen of the Renaissance Dive, having all the scruffy edges intact, but with a replenishment of spirit vis a vis a newly built, see-through cooler trimmed in polished wood. There's a good collection of local Washington vino, freshly made pizzas, pool tables for the brave who dare challenge the locals, and a growing list of live music. Really bitchin' tee shirts, too. Gotta have one of those.

So you now have your beer buzz on, and wanna know what else is up in this teeny town. Is it 3pm yet? Good--go on out the door, and jaunt your hungry ass over to the destination place all the Walla Wallans are rightfully screaming about.

The Whoopemup Hollow Cafe is--how do I say this properly?---The Shit. Not since Gramma have I had such tender corn fritters. Scratch that, they're better than hers. But what I really dug was that this place takes the essential ingredients of beloved Southern and Cajun cooking and reinvents them anew. I had a dish that simply blew me away: the sweet potato ravioli served in a tomato sauce with country ham and wilted greens. Familiar flavors rearranged into something completely unique. Excellent work, people.

So now I have to know what dessert's like. The Coca-Cola cake reminded me of all the crazy vintage Better Homes and Gardens magazines I so treasure, so I ordered that.

This is the kind of dessert that widens your eyes like when you were a tot, and the Baskin Robbins 7-scoop Matterhorn was laid before you. It makes you giggle. You dig in and find that the combination of chocolate, cola and super creamy meringue makes this baby way more than a cute presentation. Damn, that's good.

You're not going to find much more out of the ordinary in Waitsburg...yet. But there's a lot of buildings that have been bought up lately by key players like Charles Smith of K Vintners. You'll get the feeling, though, that this is a tiny town on the verge of becoming a bonafide destination. And you can say you were there in the old days, before the Starbucks moved in.

Better visit now.

1 Comments:

Blogger Catie said...

I am so tickled to hear you enjoyed this lovely spot. It is one of my favorite restaurants in the Walla Walla County. In fact, I was there last night. Instead of having my usual - the sweet potato ravioli, I enjoyed the catfish with red beans and rice. For dessert I couldn't pass up Aunt Louella's Cocoa-Cola cake. Isn't it wonderful?

I think you are right about Waitsburg - you better enjoy it in the next couple of years before Starbucks moves in. However, I have lived in this valley for years and it's about time good things are happening for Waitsburg. Also, in this town is the Lyon's Den which recently opened up. They have tasty artisan pizzas made fresh with a great Walla2 wine list. The place keeps busy!

Not only has Charles Smith bought the old Bull's Eye Tavern, but also Seattle Times wine writer(and contributing writer to the Wine Enthusiast), Paul Gregutt purchased a Main street building (and a weekend home)there, as well.

Cheers!

9:21 AM  

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