Hay J’s is the main reason we planned our trip to stop here overnight. It’s right next door to our hotel and the food is excellent. That means no cab hassles and we’re back in our room five minutes after we pay the bill. Note for Jonathan, there was a GEMelectric car in the parking lot.
So. How to explain Hay J’s. It’s in a strip mall, and from the outside, it’s about as attractive as a 7-11. On the inside, it’s much nicer, although the acoustics are harsh because of the dark red concrete floor. The wine list features lots of Washington and California wines, and seven or eight reds and whites are available by the glass. Our server was patient while we (and when I say we, I mostly mean Caroline) dithered over what to eat. Their bar stocks a local gin, Dry Fly, which was interesting, in a not quite as horrible as Hendricks way. I knew as soon as I saw the specials blackboard that I had to have the Coconut Curry Beef soup, and I was going to follow that with one of their several beef dishes, but Caroline was leaning towards seafood. We could have made this work by having separate wines by the glass, but Caroline called my attention to the Mushroom Goat Cheese Chicken. I haven’t had much chicken lately, and I’m likely to eat beef tomorrow, so the idea grew on me. So we narrowed the wine down to the l’Ecole Chardonnay. Then we just had to figure out what to feed Caroline. She kind of wanted the chowder, but felt that the Parmesan Crusted Halibut in Lemon Cream Sauce might be too much to eat. This would be a shame, because she had it once and loved it. In fact, she reverse engineered it, and we do it at home now. Her other option was the Seafood Cobb Salad, probably just an appetizer size. Our waitress said the halibut was her favourite, so Caroline went with that. She didn’t really enjoy the chowder; it had either thyme or rosemary in it, which can sometimes set off her mold alarm. She’s allergic to mold, and has the same issues with foods that remind her of mold that I do with foods that remind me of smoke. (I’m only allergic to ‘liquid smoke’ as far as I know, but smoky barbecue sauce is a turn-off) She did enjoy her fish dinner. I loved my curry soup, and liked my chicken entrée but thought the breast was rather small, being not much bigger than a hamburger patty. We declined our server’s offer of an ice bucket, as the wine was already cool. She said it was always ready if we wanted it, and sure enough, by the time we had eaten dinner, the wine was getting unpleasantly warm. The ice bucket was still available, and she knew how to do it right, too, using lots of water so the wine bottle sinks right into the ice water, instead of just touching the corners of a few ice cubes.
For dessert, we shared a portion of carrot cake with cream cheese icing, and they dressed the plate with a little dulce de leche. Mmm. I feel about ddl the way Homer Simpson feels about donuts. Lisa Simpson once translated his gargling in drool noises for a restaurant review. She chose ‘transcendent’ as a synonym. Very well: transcendent carrot cake.