We drive into the setting sun past rolling meadows, fields of tall grass and lazy cows, a rustic dairy farm in the distance. Not so long ago that would have been the view on the 30-mile drive to The Orchard House restaurant. Now, the vista is clogged with SUV brake lights and neon signs guiding the way to a giant new Costco.
From the outside, The Orchard House looks like a wedding destination, rock pavers and garden seating perched against a stunning backdrop of the Owyhees. The Cracker Barrel-esque entry--a clutch of T-shirts, candy and other knick-knacks fill every flat surface--and the blonde-wood seating indicates a casual vibe, one well-suited to a weekday evening meal with my parents.
As the only three diners in the place, we unselfconsciously scarfed our shared appetizer plate ($11.95): savory bacon-stuffed mushrooms (hell, yeah) buttery salt-and-pepper prawns (raise the roof) and thick, salty chicken-and-bacon quesadilla (there's nirvana and then there's bacon and melted cheese). We spooned chilled pico de gallo across the 'dilla, our tongues telling us that the kelly green chunks were jalapenos or, according to my sweating father, maybe habaneros. We gulped water until our extremely friendly hostess/server/cashier brought our entrees.
Hello again bacon, my old friend. A large square plate holding my salad of bright, meaty spinach, bacon, roasted red pepper, shaved parmesan, slivered almonds, sauteed prawns, all lightly swept by a warm bacon vinaigrette ($9.95) graced the space in front of me, as my parents looked down at a platter of medium well flat-iron steak, prawns, mashed potatoes with country gravy and Texas toast ($15.95) and a plastic basket of golden-brown deep-fried halibut and potato wedges ($9.95). Three small plates and a large amount of affection allowed for sharing and I made short work of two fat round hunks of halibut, white fleshy flakes wrapped in doughy-inside/crispy-outside breading, dipped in a dilly tartar sauce negating any of the health benefits incurred by the salad. The mashed potatoes with pleasantly peppery gravy didn't help in that regard either. I found the flat iron steak tough and rather tasteless, but mi padre scooped each bite through a mound of potato, nary a word of complaint on his lips.
A meal opened with apps doesn't often close with dessert, and this dinner was no exception, though my father teared up briefly at his decision to bypass a dish of warm apple cobbler.
Driving home, I was glad I had asked my parents to join me. Will I drive that far again just to eat at Orchard House? No with one exception. If my parents promise to go with me and we order the bacon-stuffed mushrooms again.
--Amy Atkins bacons bacon while baconing her bacon.