Monday, April 2, 2012

Hay Market Willow Glen

It's sometimes easy to forget some of the little treasures in our own neighborhoods. Abbie recently stumbled onto one in Downtown Willow Glen called the Hay Market. Willow Glen has always been a  lovely Upper Middle class neighborhood with some great mainstay restaurants (Taiwan & La Villa for example) but sometimes lacks the trendy aspects that other neighborhood downtown's have picked up. Sure they have a wine bar, but beyond that not much else. Hay Market is here to fill that void. Their aesthetic as well as menu scream "farm to table". The bulk of the dining room is made up of 3 communal tables seating up to 11 people a piece, the decor is farm chic, and they run your credit cards on an iPad.

In an effort to beat the Friday evening rush we arrived at about 5:30. Although parking was quite the task we were surprised to be the first guests in the restaurant. We got our pick of seat (which with communal tables never hurts, we chose the end by the wall) and got down to business burning off some of the weeks stress with a bottle of Sav Blanc. What goes better with a nice crisp sav blanc than a cheese plate and some olives?? not much I tell ya. With a selection of cheeses like Brillat Savarin (my favorite!!) Papillon, & Beemster how could I resist? My intention of course wasn't to torture Abbie who gave up cheese for lent, but I'd be lying if I said I was disappointed I couldn't share. So I wasn't munching alone we also ordered their olive plate which was served with some artfully crumbled feta and the same hearty bread that was served with the cheese plate. I also appreciated the little shot glass the was provided for the pits. There's nothing more awkward than enjoying olives at a restaurant with no where to put your pit.

 Along with enjoying our wine and treats we couldn't help enjoying the view...of our gorgeous waiter. I would be a miss if I didn't mention how incredibly good looking (and sweet) our waiter Ben was. I was pretty much driven to blushing distraction every time he made his way over. While we were waiting for our entrees a single woman was seated next to us who is a regular and as she eventually joined our conversation about up coming weddings and careers she had nothing but nice things to say about him as well. I'll be 100% honest in admitting that my main impetus in wanting to visit Hay Market again is in hopes of seeing him there, if only to drool over him and hope he smiles that rakish grin my way.

I know I say this every time but my girlfriends are such good sports when we eat out and always make sure we order a nice variety from the menu. For our entrees we chose the Acorn & Spaghetti Squash, The Game Hen, & the Black Angus New York Steak, and a side of their Mac & Cheese.

I had chosen the squash as my entree. The plating was pretty and the combination of flavors with the Chevre goat cheese, honey, & pumpkin seeds were great. The one down fall for me was that the squash were grilled with the skins on a little too long. So while the flesh was tasty the skin was inedible because it was so tough and chewy. After a solid effort with one piece I resolved myself to scrapping the edible parts off and leaving the skins behind.

Abbie's steak was also nicely plated with a generous helping of blue cheese on top (that she scrapped off in a continued effort to keep with avoiding it for lent, I helped myself to some though it was yummy!) The meat was tender and cooked to her requested temperature. The creamed cabbage was a unique addition and really enjoyable. This was a hearty piece of meat I was actually surprised with how big it was.

The Game Hen was impressive looking as well. Served with some sauted kale, greens, & roasted potatoes this had the quintessential farm house feel. The skin had been baked to golden perfection and the meat inside was moist. There is always the struggle however with how to gracefully eat something that is served in it's entirety like this and I know Kerry tried valiantly to meet the challenge but at points wished she didn't have to deal with dismantling her meal herself.

This was areally unique take on mac and cheese. Wide thick pappardelle noodles and a chewy cheese layered together underneath an herbed breakcrumb topping. It was tasty but didn't have that soul warming creaminess that I think most people are looking for in mac & cheese.

With our entrees Abbie and I both opted for an additional glass of wine and we were surprised with new glassware. When serving a bottle of wine diners are given classic stemware, but when wine is ordered by the glass it is served in what I can most succinctly describe as a water glass. It's cute and kitchsy in it's own way although I don't really think it adds that much to the theme. It mostly just comes off like they are either trying to be sneaky with something or they ran out of stemware. The beers served in mason jars went further to develop the motif than the wine in water glasses in my opinion.
We couldn't give a proper review of the restaurant without trying the dessert so even though we were all pretty full by this point we decided on two- the Paris Brest an almond cream filled flaky croissant like pastry and the Fig, Chocolate, & Camembert Tart.

I enjoyed the Paris Brest which was nice and light and had a good flavor. If you enjoy cream puffs you'll enjoy this dessert. I think we were all unanimous in our verdict that while it was good the fig tart really didn't need the cheese. It felt like it was trying to hard and really didn't add anything to flavor profile. The dark chocolate ganache that made up the bulk of the filling was rich enough.

At the end of our meal our bill was presented with three little dark chocolate cookies... and some temporary tattoos! After about 3 glasses of wine by this point I figured why not? and slapped one on my wrist. Thank goodness it came off in the shower the next day!

Over all we had a fabulous time dining at Hay Market and I will definitely be back again soon. I could see comeing here just for wine and cheese as I think that was my favorite part of the meal all together... well that and the staff ;)

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