Peg has been working herself to death helping her younger sister move from her apartment of 24 years to another one. Peg walked into my office and said, "You're taking me to dinner." We chose the Spring Lake Cafe in Firecrest. They serve dinner from 3:00 to 7:00 Monday-Thursday. We arrived just before five. There were two women finishing up their dinner. We were quickly shown to our table and menus were presented.
The waitress was friendly and informative. There was a turkey dinner special and a beef stew special.
I chose salad with my dinner and Peg chose the fajita soup. The soup was outstanding. The broth was good and the chunks of vegetables were perfect. My salad was excellent, too with two quarter chunks of tomato, a cucumber slice, and shredded cheese.
I like calamari, so I chose it as an appetizer. It was surprising. Usually at restaurants you're served small rings of deep fried squid. When the plate was served there were two surprises. One, was the over-size bowl of the tarter. Two, a pile of calamari and what looked like onion rings, but turned out to be large rings of squid. Okay, three, it was presented with no lemon . . . I should have asked for some, but enjoyed the seafood so much I forgot about it.
A family friend, Dr. Zeke Melquist, who used to cook at Anthony's at Pt. Defiance, could make tender squid steaks. Most chefs and cooks over-cook squid and it comes out rubbery. That was not a problem at Spring Lake. Even cold, the squid rings were delicious and tender.
My only complaint, was the no lemon for the sauce and the rings.
Peg surprised me. I would have thought she would have chosen the chicken Marsala or the meatloaf. Instead, she chose the flat iron steak dinner.
I would have chosen the flat iron steak, but it was only six ounces. I had two bites of Peg's. It was covered with blue cheese crumbles and onions. It was excellent. Second best on the plate was the sliced red potatoes. Peg said if she had known she could chose those instead of mashed potatoes, she would have had the meatloaf. The carrots in the medley were a little too under-done.
When Peg's left-overs were boxed, Peg asked for some additional sauce poured over the contents. The steak had been served "de glace." The word glace (pronounced GLOSS) refers to a thick, reduction of stock. Most of us know the glace or sauce as gravy.
Peg had a glass of red blend to go with her meal. The last time we dined in Fircrest this would have been impossible. Thank god, they got rid of an old existing blue law.
Another special of the day at Spring Lake was the stew. I love stew. I had to ask for a larger spoon. I just couldn't do the stew justice with a tiny teaspoon. The waitress was surprised when I asked and didn't know if they had anything larger. She came back from the kitchen, however with something that allowed me to dig in and enjoy myself.
Generally, there are two kinds of stew. One has broth and lots of vegetables and tomato sauce. The other has a finishing touch of brown roux or gravy. Think of the old canned stand-by Dinty Moore. I like both kinds. I've never met a stew I didn't like. A stew generally has chunks of meat and vegetables, hence the big spoon.
I love a good stew because it allows you to use all kinds of local vegetables and whatever else you want to throw into the mix. I would have liked to have seen more vegetables. Basically, it was gravy, onions, carrots, and whole mushrooms. Mostly my objection was the mushrooms. If they had been sliced they have worked for me, but whole . . . I didn't like the texture. Don't get me wrong, I recommend the stew and would order it again, I just think it could have been more to my tastes.
Biscuits are always a bugaboo. When we go out to breakfast I like to order biscuits and gravy. I don't like frozen biscuits. I like biscuits made from scratch. The biscuit I had from Spring Lake was made from scratch . . . normally, that would have been a good thing.
Have you ever made biscuits from scratch? You mix the dough, flour the counter or board, dump the dough onto the flour and start rolling it flat, and then finally, you take a glass (the lip dipped in flour) and cut out the biscuits. At the end of this process, you are left with the remnants of the dough minus the cut-out rounds for the glass cutter. You can then roll all those pieces into one large biscuit. If you keep reworking the dough, it gets tough. That is what my biscuit looked and tasted like . . . sort of a Frankenstein's monster biscuits made up of left over scraps.
Now, I can live with Frankenstein and his big biscuit, but this biscuit, I swear sucked all the humidity out of the room and was still dry and tough. I couldn't cut it with the table service. Perhaps, if I had borrowed Peg's steak knife, it might have been edible. I put chunks of biscuit into the stew only to see the gravy retreat in fear. It was a shame. I finally got what I've been searching for, and the prize turned out to be inferior to frozen biscuits. It was king of like winning at a carnival booth. Doman biscuits never turn out this way . . . well, almost never.
Luckily the biscuit was not a deal breaker. Peg and I had ordered gingerbread pudding for dessert. It was wonderful. Served under a mound of whipped cream, the moist gingerbread pudding was exceptional. I love raisins and the sweet little gems were nice bursts of interest throughout the pudding.
Peg and I shared, but at only $5.95 it was a bargain. At many other local fine dining establishments the price could have easily been $8.95 or even $9.95. Next time, we'll order two. Or perhaps, three . . . one for home.
We were quite happy with Spring Lake Cafe. While we ate, a regular patron came in for dinner and then a bit later a group of five came in for the table for five. With the ability to have wine or beer, now with dinner, plus the soup, the salad, the appetizer, the main courses, and dessert . . . there were many reasons to return for lunch or dinner at Spring Lake Cafe in Fircrest.