Friday, May 20, 2011

Pampered Palate Café

Pampered Palate Café was the first restaurant I ever ate at in Staunton.  My family was living in Charlottesville, and my mom and I had come to the Frontier Culture Museum and afterwards went walking around Downtown.   We were attracted by the quaint looking interior and decided to check-it out.  I loved Palate then, and I still love them now.  I have eaten there many times and I’ve never had a sandwich I didn’t like. 
Pampered Palate really is a quintessential Staunton icon.  The menu is based on local buildings, places, and attractions.  There is the “Historic Staunton,” hot roast beef and brie on buttered multi-grain French bread.   Or, you can get the “Masonic Temple,” ham and swiss with mustard on rye.  There is even the “Parking Garage Club.”   
Along with sandwiches, they feature soups, quiches, and baked potatoes, which remind me a lot of the “jacket potatoes” you get in England.  I once had a special baked potatoes concoction I would order regularly—herbed butter, feta, olives, and broccoli.  Eventually, the waitress knew me by this potato because I was the only one who ever ordered that combination of toppings.  The quiches are also a really solid choice.  They are good hot or cold and have a nice variety of vegetarian or meat options. 

I have several favorite sandwiches. One is the Seafood Salad.  Palate has a great Seafood Salad that has plump pieces of cut up shrimp, imitation crab and a not to heavy dressing.  I like it on the pita because I like the combination of squishy pita and chunky seafood.   A second favorite is the “Blackfriars.”  This is one Dennis introduced me to and is hot pastrami, swiss, rye bread, pickles, red onions, and spicy mustard.  I always feel a little manlier eating it because it has fantastically strong flavors that come together well with no one flavor dominating any other.  Thirdly, they make a mean “Gypsy Hill Gyro” with a smashing tzatziki. 

My ultimate favorite, thought, is the “Mount Laurel.”  My mom came up to visit me last week and since she ordered that I got to have something different, knowing that she would still let me have a bite of hers to satisfy any “Mount Laurel” envy.  The “Mount Laurel” is a gooey, rich, and spicy sandwich of croissant, ham, brie, green apples, and grainy mustard.  Every bite is a balance of spicy, sweet, tart, savory, and buttery so that all your taste buds get to feel satisfied.  It is served warm so that the brie melts into all the crevices and binds all the ingredients even more steadfastly together.    It is one of those sandwiches that affirms your faith in the potential food. 
I’ll be leaving Staunton in either August or December and so have been blogging a lot about Staunton so I can have a taste dairy to remember the town by.  One of the places I’ll miss most is the Pampered Palate.  The “Mount Laurel” will always be the preeminent brie, apple, and ham sandwich by which I compare all brie, ham, and apple sandwiches.   Even if some new place’s brie sandwich is good, even if it is better, that combination of ingredients will still remind me of all the great lunches I had at Pampered Palate. 

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