Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Original Road Food

Our second stop for food, (I cannot count the free "breakfast" given out to the patrons at the hotel in Charlottesville as anything resembling a real meal) was at the historic Michie Tavern, just down the road from Monticello where we enjoyed a nice day exploring the home of Thomas Jefferson. If you haven't had the chance the visit this wonderfully beautiful place then make the time and do so, you won't regret it! The view alone is worth the price of admission.

After spending the best part of the morning exploring Monticello we adjourned over the hill to Michie Tavern and lunch. Situated in a converted tavern/inn Michie offers tours and has a fixed bill of fare, (something I approve of, since I hate large menus). The ambiance of the place adds a nice touch to your meal, as do the hostesses in their period costumes.

Food is "served" via a buffet line on your initial run and the servers come around to refill any food or drink items you might wish seconds on. You can eat in the Inn itself or adjourn to a sunroom off the main building. We chose to eat in the sunroom and enjoyed sitting out in the cool lighted area, even if the floor was somewhat uneven in pitch.

The prices are about what you could expect of a tourist destination such as this. $14.75 for adults, $10.25 for youth and $7.50 for kids 6-11. Walking through the short self service line was not too difficult, and getting checked out was fairly quick and easy, given the shortness of the line a single customer could hold things up for quite awhile. Needless to say, we all loaded up on different items in an attempt to sample all and find out which were our favourites.

I helped myself to some Fried Chicken, "Hickory Smoked Pork Barbecue", Black Eyed Peas, Stewed Tomatoes, Tavern Beets, Potato Salad, Cole Slaw (for the "Barbecue") and some Cornbread. My wife had about the same thing and some of the Green Beans, (I did not have them as I am that one person who despises Green Beans) which she assured me were "pretty good". I had Iced Tea...just an aside here, if you're in the South you REALLY should have two Iced Teas, one sweet and one unSweetened. Sugar does NOT dissolve easily in cold Iced Tea...back to business, now!

The Chicken had a really nice coating and was cooked just right. I ended up having seconds of this deep fried delicacy. The Stewed Tomatoes were a delight and something I hadn't seen on a menu in decades. Sweet, creamy and filled with Tomato flavour in every mouthfull, even my 6 year old liked these! The Tavern Beets have a nice earthy taste to them, punctuated by little bits of onion. These are a good item, too. The Black Eyed Peas are about what you'd expect, pretty good. It would be a nice touch if they offered some onion slices or dices as a Pea condiment, tho. The Cornbread....well, it was sweet pan-style cornbread and that just doesn't do a lot for me. I'm a buttermilk cornbread kind of guy, if I want desert bread I'll ask for a sweet roll. It wasn't terrible, tho.

Now, since few meals are rarely perfect I thought I'd save the worst till last. Let's talk about that soi-disant "Barbecue" for a minute or two. Having already faced serious disappointment the previous evening where 'Que was concerned I was in need of reassurance that there was somewhere that offered good Pork Barbecue. Michie Tavern was not to be my saviour in this regard. Once again I was faced with sauce drowned pulls of pork that were reminiscent of heat lamp warmed, gas station fodder. I can only imagine that Mr. Michie is rolling in his grave over that particular menu item.

The Potato Salad was wet and too sweet, I am guessing that it may well come from a Food Service tub. The Cole Slaw was limp and not at all crispy, as it should have been, but it tasted just fine. This is something that the folks at Michie Tavern might want to look at, tho. Last, but certainly not least...the Iced Tea. It wasn't horrible, but it certainly was weak and that detracted from an otherwise lovely meal. Despite yet another day of Barbecue deprivation Michie Tavern served up more than enough Good Eats to make up for any of the flaws in the meal. I'd recommend a stop at their place as a matter of course for anyone visiting Monticello and I may well stop in again, myself. I'd like to try one of their seasonal offerings and see what that's like! I definitely recommend Michies if you're in the neighbourhood.

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