The Sugar Beet was good, not great.
The service was the first thing we noticed. When the matre'd took us to our table, he didn't seat us. He just kind of asked us if the table would be okay. It was a four seated table, with one edge at the window. I took one of the seats by the window, and John took the seat facing me. The boy (probably 20-something, shows you how old *I* am, now) put the menus on the place settings we were NOT sitting at and then took the settings from the places we were seated at. Leaving us a mildly bemused moment of having to move all our place settings and menus ourselves. Not the most clued in guy, I guess.
Luckily, it did mean that our shorts and Hawaiian shirts were entirely acceptable attire, as everyone else walked in in shorts and t-shirts and other things.
The menu's main dishes were $12-27. The salads were $5 for the house and $11 for the specials. The appetizers ranged from $7 to $12 and they had several specials for today. There was a sea bass with Forbidden rice and grilled asparagus, a osso bucco (pork shank) with whipped Yukon Gold potatoes and veg, and three appetizer changes, including some Chesapeake Bay oysters on the half shell, a gumbo on rice (what's up with that?), BBQ ribs, and a chicken and strawberry salad. I wasn't sure I wanted chicken on a starter salad...
We ordered the oysters and a raspberry salad with a peach vinaigrette to share them. The oysters were... Atlantic oysters. I'm used to the crisp sweetness of Pacific oysters, but these were pretty tasty. Big, meaty and mildly briny they were fresh enough and served with just a minimum of condiments. They were nice. Six was just right for the two of us.
The salad was a surprise. The salad contained a nice toss of bitter arugula, greens, sliced skinned almonds, and feta cheese, served on four corners covered with crisp, cool slices of cucumber with four sides lined with fresh, ripe raspberries. The peach vinaigrette gently and sweetly dressed the bitter greens, and was enhanced by a sweet drizzle of Madhava honey. The peaches were grown on our Western Slope. The salad tasted like summer.
The size of the salad was pretty big, too, and excellent for the two of us to share.
For dinner, John ordered the sea bass special. I got the crab cakes. I'm still not quite up to eating steak with my jaws and teeth and I'll admit that both the lamb shank and the pork shank intrigued me, but I think of slow cooked shank dishes as being fall or winter foods. Not mid-summer kinds of food. Plus the BBQ ribs that were served by the local rib shack were half the price and I knew that they were great. So no ribs here... I ended up with the crab cakes partially because they were served with a green papaya slaw, sweet potato fries (my favorite), and an avocado salsa.
Dinner was quite good. Not great, but good. The portions were a bit too big, so neither of us could have dessert. The crab cakes were good enough, well-seasoned, crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside, and had a nice herbal sauce that I couldn't quite taste especially against the "salsa". The slaw was just a little crunchier and more tart with the green papaya, and it was nice and cool. The avocado salsa made me think of lazy man's guacamole, just avocado cubes tossed with the usual salsa ingredients minus the tomatoes. The sweet potato fries were just a bit too dark for my taste, but the good ones were still quite good.
John's sea bass chunk was too big for him to finish. The Forbidden rice was very nice, and cooked up puffy and chewy and very interesting. I'll have to get some of that for myself sometimes. The asparagus was very fresh and very small and quite nice enough, but there wasn't that much else to them.
Mostly, I guess, they didn't screw up with their good ingredients. But I wasn't that excited by anything other than the salad. :-) They had a nice, dry Santa Cruz Riesling that I actually got and drank most of, nice and crisp and sweet. It went really well with the salad and kept up with my spicier main course as well, though it made me miss those characteristics in the oysters just a bit more.
Next time we might just order salads and appetizers and go right for the desserts. :-)
It was a good way to celebrate our anniversary, though, and it was quite nice for this little town. We toasted our anniversary together and that was definitely good enough. :-)
Good, Not Great
The Sugar Beet was good, not great.