I had a great time at a friend’s birthday party last night. Not so much that I was tempted to wear a toga like some of the party goers, but enough so that I was a bit sensitive this afternoon. It was such a beautiful late winter day, I had to get out and bike around regardless. It was a bit chilly to start, but the brisk air mixed with bright blue skies helped me feel better than an asprin would have.
No matter what, any time I go out on the town to find a place to eat on Sunday it’s going to be a challenge. Many places are closed on Sundays, so I wander even more than usual on these days. There is a little Lebanese grocery, Middle East Market & Deli, at the bus station I have ridden past several times. I thought I might try it out, but despite the advertisement of falafel and other Mediterranean cuisine choices, they did not appear to have a working restaurant.
But it was like Snoopy’s doghouse. The outside of the store looks a bit shady – bars on the windows, paint flaking away, inability to see inside. Once you go inside the place is bright, cheery and looks almost brand new! Maybe they are renovating and will eventually have the restaurant up again. I sure hope so, cause I would love to try some good Lebanese food.
I did get a few ingredients to make my own falafels, and was a bit disappointed that mostly the store was like a 711 with one aisle of Lebanese imports. I was tempted to get a hookah for the hell of it, but didn’t really have a way to carry it with me along with the big bottle of olives and falafel mix I purchased so I’ll have to go for that later.
The bottle of olives is outstanding. I got black, and other than there being a strange plastic barrier to get past, I managed to have a few this evening while writing this review. The hot pepper sauce will have a future in some dinner concoction I might throw together, and I look forward to trying the eggplant dip, falafel and pita bread.
I mention this place primarily because I initially went there thinking I would have something off a menu, but I am highly supportive of international groceries of all kinds. The diversity in food and spice selections is so important to make unique and tasty things that I wish more people would demand such businesses.
With there being no active restaurant, I had to consider other options. Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream has been a place I had considered in the past, but the one time I visited last summer they did not accept electronic payment. I almost never carry cash, so it has been hard to visit. Luckily this time I had cash with me, so I went inside only to discover that they now accept credit! They add a 5% charge above the total cost if you pay this way, but it is nice to see that they have this as an option.
Ellen’s has a modest menu selection of food combined with a substantial selection of ice creams, frozen yogurts and sorbets. During the week, there are daily specials of sandwiches, wraps and soups. They did not have as much in the food department on a Sunday afternoon, but I was still able to try a classic grilled cheese sandwich along with an Ellen’s Special Salad. I also ordered a Espresso Sundae, because what is the point of going there without getting ice cream?
Grilled cheese sandwiches are hard to mess up. Elegant in their simplicity, Ellen’s uses a whole grain wheat bread from Charleston Bread that is hearty and flavorful. So much so that the cheese is almost washed out from the wonder of the bread. They provided a packet of Grey Poupon mustard, and that made me feel obliged to add it to the sandwich. It was a nice touch.
The salad was filled with sugared pecans, dried cranberries, feta cheese and mesclun. A side of balsamic vinaigrette was included, and while the presentation was a bit basic (the salad came in a plastic container) it was a good mix of salady items. I found myself wishing Ellen’s plastic forks were a bit stronger, but then again I am sure not too many people eat their ice cream with forks. Fortunately, I am sure that sugared pecans are a divine gift so the wrangling with an inadequate plastic fork was bearable.
Then there was the ice cream. I got a scoop of coconut. It seemed like a good combination for espresso. The presentation was interesting. A scoop of the coconut ice cream was placed in a bowl, the espresso was poured over it, whipped topping was added along with some chocolate sprinkles. It reminded me a bit of a coffee milkshake that had not been blended. The ice cream was okay – coconut ice cream not made from coconut milk seems a bit of a wasted opportunity, and Ellen’s seemed to take the traditional milk approach. In hindsight I should have gone with vanilla or coffee ice cream. That said, the dessert was good. I wanted a coffee, and this satisfied both that need and the desire to have a bit of ice cream.
Now that I know that Ellen’s accepts electronic payment, I may be in a bit of trouble this summer. Time to get used to long bike rides to work off those calories, I guess.