191127GROVE

Helene Ramsdell, a member of The Gazette’s restaurant review team The Four Dishes, ordered this roasted vegetable pita sandwich during a recent visit to The Grove Market in Evansville. The sandwich featured an assortment of winter vegetables topped with a layer of hummus.

EVANSVILLE

Downtown Evansville now has the cutest little restaurant. It is perfect, set in a beautifully renovated old building that is light, bright, sparkling and easy to find.

The Grove Market seems like a cross between a European cafe and a farmers market, and it occasionally serves as a live music venue. The owner’s love of local food and supporting the community is apparent in every dish, and using local, fresh, organic products gave everything we tried high-quality flavor.

The space itself is open and inviting with a high wainscot ceiling, cozy beige walls and upscale, white marble tables. The kitchen can be seen from all tables, and inquiries about the food and preparation seemed to be welcomed. Wait staff checked on us periodically throughout our meal and took time to answer all of our questions.

Beautifully designed display areas throughout the restaurant offer homemade items for sale as well as unique mustards, salsas, chocolates and other gourmet treats for gift giving. Local artists’ paintings adorn the walls and are available for purchase.

There also is a self-serve refrigerator/freezer case full of organic meats and homemade to-go dishes such as quiche, soups and pot pies. It was nice to wander around the shop while we waited for our food.

On the evening of our visit, we ordered tea to stave off the bitter cold that had just hit our area. But Grove Market also offers beverages such as kombucha, Rusty Dog coffee, beers and wines.

As dark set in, I was chilled to the bone. I decided to start my meal with homemade soup. Tomato basil, my go-to choice, is on the menu, but the soup du jour that night—leek and potato ($4.95)—caught my eye. Creamy and peppery, it quickly warmed me up. I was happy to see it served with crunchy Potter’s crackers—a Wisconsin staple.

After filling up on soup, I realized I wasn’t going to be able to eat much of my dinner. Fortunately, I had ordered the black bean and sweet potato street tacos ($10.95), which made for great leftovers.

Three colorful tacos were full of fresh flavor. They came with a house-made salsa and a side of Slide chips or a mixed greens salad. If you haven’t tried Slide gourmet potato chips (made in Madison), let me put in a recommendation. It was our first taste of the perfectly textured chips, which are not overly salted yet are just right in satisfying a salt or crunch craving.

Helene opted for the roasted vegetable pita sandwich ($10.95), and she chose the salad over chips as her side. The peppery arugula, spinach and red and green leaf lettuce were lightly dressed, which allowed the flavor of the greens to shine.

After trying my Slide chips, Helene decided either choice would have been a winner for her. The sandwich came on a soft pita that was lightly grilled and filled with an assortment of winter vegetables chopped into bite-sized pieces. She chose the hummus addition rather than provolone cheese, and it added that extra layer of tangy flavor that is so prominent in hummus. It wasn’t messy to eat, and it was delicious.

Nikki ordered the bistro burger ($13.95), also opting for the side salad. The burger, made from local beef, was served on a soft challah bun with slices of beautiful, deep red tomato, caramelized onions, gouda and aioli. It was perfectly cooked and the meat was delicious, prompting her to shop Grove Market’s freezer case and take home a beef roast.

For her entree, Jennifer chose the evening’s flatbread special ($8.95). Prepared on naan bread and grilled to perfection, the dish was loaded with fresh spinach, sliced mushrooms, vine-ripe tomatoes, Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

Though her dish didn’t come with a side, Jennifer had a hankering for a salad. In a heartbeat, her wishes were accommodated. A bowl of mixed greens, julienned carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers in a light Greek vinaigrette was exactly what she had in mind.

We couldn’t leave without trying some of Grove Market’s homemade sweets, which include vegan and gluten-free options. We split a light-as-air meringue decorated with a thin coat of chocolate and seasonal sprinkles.

If you haven’t been to downtown Evansville lately, take a drive and check out The Grove Market. The menu adapts to what is in season, so visiting periodically is highly suggested.

The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.

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