Maybe Munch is getting older, but darned if these urban smog particulates don't get to Munch when the lazy, hazy (Count Basie? Patrick Swayze? Martin Scorsese?) dog days of summer roll around. Maybe it's a real affliction, maybe it's a psychosomatic bug that has been planted in Munch's head by the Clean Air Council, but either way, Munch needs to get outta tahn and breathe the fresh country air from time to time.
Last month was one of those times, as Munch and Dear One of Munch (DOOM) pointed the Munch Utility Vehicle (MUV) toward Washington County in general, and a place called the SpringHouse, more specifically.
It is part restaurant, part bakery, part farm market, part dairy and all country corn pone. The word Munch is looking for is "adorbs."
Is Munch using that right? Adorbs?
Anyway, the place is somewhat of a Washington County institution, coming up on 40 years in operation as a farm, 25 years as a restaurant, although it is not, in actuality, a spring house. And as we city folk become further removed from our agriculturally adept forebears and from those pre-refrigeration days of yore, Munch should explain what a spring house is: It is a small shed where you'd store foodstuffs, built over a spring.
Why is it built over a spring, you ask? Because it's cooler there, all the better for hanging bottles of dairy product.
Dairy is the SpringHouse's calling card -- they sell milk here, pasteurized of course, but hormone-free and more or less fresh out of the 200 Holsteins and Jersey cows they keep on their 420-acre farm property. By "they," Munch means the good people who own this warm little garden spot, the Minor family.
Alongside the milk (Munch will make special note of their chocolate milk, which is a big seller), they sell candies, fresh-baked pies, cookies, ice cream and just about any other thing your sweet tooth might possibly hanker for. But Munch wasn't here to review the sweets (which is not to say that Munch didn't eventually sample the sweets, just that they weren't the purpose of the trip); Munch was here for a lazy Sunday lunch.
And such a lunch it was, an a la carte buffet of pasta, meatloaf, chicken pot pie, ribs, potato and starch dishes, vegetables, salad bar, soups, and so on. It's not all-you-can-eat, because you pay by the item, but if you're not stuffed after $10 or $15 worth of food, you're either not trying very hard, or you have a glandular problem. DOOM -- generally not a fan of a la carte cafeterias, or all-you-can-eat buffets, or any sort of place where the sneezy guy with the dirty fingernails from three tables over is able to linger over the same pasta salad that DOOM will be eating -- enjoyed this spot, too.
Weekday lunch menus change daily, with sandwiches (corned beef, fried scrod), pepperoni rolls, swiss steak and more. Those who are more breakfast-oriented on the weekend may want to visit between 9 and 11 a.m. on a Saturday, the one day a week that the SpringHouse buffet turns brunch-like: French toast, bacon and sausage and smoked ham (from its own smokehouse!), breakfast casseroles, hash browns, eggs, cinnamon rolls. Dining is casual, as might be expected from a buffet, served on styrofoam platters and plastic cafeteria trays.
As for the appointments, it's probably exactly as you'd imagine: carved wood benches, rough-hewn crates and shelving, anachronistic wallpaper, antique storage units (including a steel Coca-Cola cooler box). Munch calls this style of architectural design "NeoCrackerBarrelism."
Or is it Beaux Arts? Munch always confuses the two.