Yellow Springs Roadtrip: Winds Cafe and Bakery
Posted by cmh gourmand on September 19, 2010
Sometimes I go where the wind takes me. More often, I get a notion to roam and fall back to some sure things that I know will ensure my roadtrip is satisfying. Yellow Springs is just under one hour southwest of Columbus. It offers a lot of indoor and outdoor activities to keep me occupied. If I have time to sit down for a meal while I am in town, I go to the Winds Cafe and Bakery. Most people just call it The Winds.
So why is the Winds a slam dunk? It offers superior food: fresh and when possible local and organic. It has ambiance – if you need romantic, the Winds can pull that off. If you just need to soak in some air conditioning and some cocktails in jeans after a hike – you will not feel out of place here. There is counter service in the bakery area when you just need to grab something and go. If you just happen to be passing through town and find that you are not hungry at all, drop in for any of their baked goods. You will be glad during the drive home or the next day.
I am going to lead with “place” instead of food for once. The cafe could be described a quaint in the nicest possible way. There is a definite French bistro atmosphere inside. The wooden tables and chairs are mismatched but lovely. The walls are painted in varied colors to create different spaces in the same room. There is a random mini wall with a window in the center of the dining room which creates private space for the tables on either side of this mock wall. Flowers adorn each table, local art is on the walls and everything has the aura of being in place for decades. The bathrooms would best be described as “really nice” featuring tiled floors, artsy yet practical sinks and several nice touches. There is no wasted space in the bathrooms. These lavatories are not cramped – yet somehow just a precise use of space. Usually I just pay attention to whether a restaurant keeps their bathrooms clean, here, for whatever reason the bathrooms leave an impression. Um, moving right along.
The menu changes monthly/every two months to reflect what is in season so I will focus on the items that stay constant as well as the general types of meals you can expect. There are always daily specials. The menu is mostly Old World, with frequent nods to France as well as many new world twists. The Winds provides a bread service featuring a mix of several breads from their in-house bakery with many entrees. If bread is not part of your meal, order some with butter. The breads are varied, always fresh and exceptionally good.
The restaurant always has an array of salads to choose from. The Tuscan bread salad is a standard. It is a mix of tomatoes, sweet onions and peppers dressed in red wine vinegar and olive oil. Olives and mozzarella are tossed in then broiled with chunks of bread. Other salads with seasonal items and high end ingredients can be expected at all times.
The French style breads the bakery produces serve as perfect bases for lunchtime sandwiches. Anything with ham will be a best bet. Being a Yellow Springs eatery, there is always at least one vegetarian friendly sandwich mixing multiple vegetables with one or two cheeses. A standby lunch offering is the Brown Bag. The Winds take on Chicken Salad goes like this: chicken poached with wine, lemons and peppercorns. The chicken is mixed with a variety of vegetables, mayonnaise and and a touch of curry and served on a bed of greens. Not too bland for a brown bag. While I have dined at the Winds countless times, I have never had dinner there. The dinner menu takes many of the lunch items from the day and adds additional small and large plates. I suggest reservations for dinner especially on Friday and Saturday.
On the other hand, I have had brunch almost as often as lunch at the Winds. The Winds is hard to beat for brunch. The kitchen takes their all-stars from the lunch menu, adds in above average standard breakfast fare such as pancakes, eggs and home fries and then the chefs create some unique Sunday specific items to make the day special. Omelettes are worth their plate space here. These are made with local, organic eggs and cooked French style on iron pans. The biscuits are memorable as are the buttermilk pancakes. Reservations are suggested for brunch especially when the weather is nice.
In addition to the restaurant and bakery, the Winds has a wine shop next door with an impressive stock of wines to choose from. Their standard menus are supplemented and enhanced by a three course Prix-Fixe menu, special wine dinners/event/special meals on a regular basis and bistro menus that run for three days at a time each week. The desserts and cocktail options vary as often as the regular menu and have the same great quality. The long list of cocktails includes Caipirinhas and other less common tastes. The desserts include Blackout Cake which is a tribute to Ebinger’s Bakery in Brooklyn.
As you can read, the Winds has a lot to serve visitors and it will require more than one trip to fully explore all this restaurant has to offer.