I spent Easter driving to my mom's house and then my husband, Eric, and I took her out for brunch. When we are in Minneapolis we usually end up at a really nice hotel with a nice champagne brunch but my mom lives in a small town and the options are less. I did some internet research and came up with a restaurant called (okay, I am going to be kind here and not say the real name!) but it rhymes with Bill's Place or Phil's Place and it is somewhere in the tri-state area of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. I just don't want to get too detailed here!
It was about 90 minutes, not quite, from my mom's house and I found it on the internet. I told everyone I would be happy if they had eggs and mimosas and pie. Well, maybe I needed to be more definite than that!! When I first saw the place my heart sank because it just looked like a big banquet hall in the middle of nowhere, kind of shabby and no piano player in the corner or Easter Bunny handing out candy or flutes of champagne. Eric said don't worry about how it looks, it is all about the food!
Okay, then. Well, we were finally seated and the waitress took our drink orders (yes, they had mimosas, but they tasted kind of funny) and then she told us there was a mini salad bar and lots of hot dishes. Warning bells should have gone off for me then. I had never seen such a small salad bar in my entire life. There were only 2 kinds of dressing, Ranch and French, some wilty iceberg lettuce, tomato slices, mushrooms, radishes, and shredded cheese.
No blue cheese dressing, no cucumbers or chick peas or black olives or seven kinds of pasta salad. I was very, very excited they had radishes though--in fact that was the only thing I took from the salad bar. Then I got some scrambled eggs and breakfast potatoes and I was done.
NO LUSCIOUS SALAD BAR LIKE THIS
Everywhere else as far as the eye could see stretched tables full of big pots and platters of meat and potatoes and green beans in a funny shade of Army green.
No fresh fruit, no cheese platter.
OR FANTASTIC FRUIT
I looked around and really thought Jamie Oliver of Food Revolution needed to come to this place and rescue these people. I understand it is the Midwest. Small town Midwest at that and these people are raised on meat and potatoes and obviously don't expect anything else. Heck, I am from the Midwest and have lived here my whole life although I do travel a lot and I live in a metropolitan area. I feel that I have gotten away from so much of this. I am a lifelong vegetarian and I appreciate fresh fruit and cheese and a nice bottle of wine and a big salad bar with a variety of veggies and toppings.
I didn't really know what to make of this restaurant and I found myself wondering if I am really just a snob or was this really a horrible place to eat?
I went to the dessert table and found a plate of chocolate chip cookies and pieces of pie that looked like the ones you get in a hospital cafeteria. No chocolate eclairs or cheesecake or carrot cake or pretty cupcakes. And don't get me wrong, I adore pie--but not this pie. I took a cookie and it wasn't even good.
NO PRETTY PASTEL DESSERT TABLE
I felt the whole Jill's Place (still a made-up name!) was such a huge disappointment. Am I a food snob? Or just a snob? My mom told me it wasn't the food that mattered--it was the company. Which I guess is true to a certain extent.
On the way home, I got a piece of string cheese at the gas station and ate some peanut butter stuffed pretzels from Trader Joe's that I had brought along as a snack just in case. Turns out I needed that snack! When we got to Rochester, I had Eric stop at Fazoli's so I could get a tomato cheese sandwich.
What do you think? Please don't beat me up and say I am a snob or am putting down small town Midwest people. I am a small town Midwest girl and proud of it! I am just questioning the kind of food that was served! And I don't think I am a snob--I enjoy casual dining places like Panera and Noodles and chains like Olive Garden and Red Lobster. So, no, I don't think it is that I am a snob. Maybe it is more so that I am aware of options and have been exposed to more than ham and mashed potatoes?