Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chef Debbie Says: You Really Expect "ME" to Eat at a Gas Station?

Last weekend I went down to Maggie Valley to visit my dearest friend Beth Brown, her darling husband Kenny and some of my favorite doggies in the world: Heidi, Oscar and Charlie Brown.

I arrive in Maggie with a full cooler with enough delectable treats to feed half of the state: center cut filets, two big slabs of meaty baby back ribs and lots of juicy Amish chicken breasts. Oh, and cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Parmesan, Sicilian Jack, Danish Blue and Honey Goat. All this for just 3 people for just 3 days!

Beth says she wants to take me to a new favorite restaurant for lunch. I'm game. She's a foodie, Kenny is a foodie and if they say it's good, then it must be.

Oh, one minor detail... this restaurant is in the back of a gas station. And it's in a tiny town 45 minutes away.

Say whaaaat? You want to take me to a gas station restaurant? I'm secretly thinking they might have been away from city life a little too long...

Being the good sport that I am, I "graciously" agree to try the gas station restaurant with the slightly pretentious name of Caffé REL.

Well, Caffé REL put this snotty city girl in her place!

It was nothing like I expected. A charming little restaurant that would fit anywhere on the Champs~Élysées, the extensive menu featured delicacies such as:

  • Lamb Lollies ~ Rosemary rubbed lamb lollipops finished with shallot scallion Madera sauce

  • Snails & Tails ~ Helix snails and crawfish tail meat sautéed in butter with portabella mushrooms, Glace De Viande, fresh herbs, shallots, garlic, sherry and fresh cream... and then it's finished with a homemade puff pastry braid

  • French Blue Bâtard ~ Blue crab claw meat sautéed in butter with shallots, garlic, scallions and capers served on French bread, topped with Parmesan cheese and then baked hot and bubbly.

    Not only was lunch simply amazing but when the server inquired about dessert, I ~ of course ~ suggested we "share" one. I naively asked which of the desserts on the extensive list was made in house... too many for me to keep track of.

    After much discussion and debate, we decided on the Lemon & Strawberry Cake ~ delicate yellow cake with homemade strawberry jam in between the layers and then iced with an amazing lemon curd icing. Oh, and served with a fabulous whipped cream and vanilla bean ice cream.

    I didn't want to leave the table and "laughingly" suggested we just order wine and keep the table until dinner.

    So next time a foodie friend suggests lunch at the gas station, hope and pray they're talking about a road trip to Franklin, NC.


    Chef Lana said...

    I remember visiting relatives on the coast in Mississippi and eating breakfast at cafe whose former life was a gas station. Not much ambiance, but a great southern breakfast! You never know, do you?

    Yummy~issimo! said...

    Actually, the restaurant is inside of a working gas station... if you want to go to the bathroom, go out the door and into the gas station, turn right past the candy aisle and there are the bathrooms LOL