Dine Out: Keeping Sweet Meadow classics

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 23, 2011

By Robin M. Perry
For the Salisbury Post
The minute you walk into The Sweet Meadow Café in Historic Downtown Salisbury, the coziness and charm of this eclectic bistro hits you.
It’s like being in your own living or dining room, tables, chairs, (not all matching), unique artwork, antique brick walls and a piano that displays decorative bottles and the dessert specialties of the day all fill the quaint dining room.
Heather and Scott Teeter had been set on Sweet Meadow for a long time.
Between the two of them, they have more than 35 years in the restaurant/food service industry. Heather, a transplant from southern California, even worked at The Sweet Meadow in the late ’90s when she was pregnant with their first son.
“I’ve always been in love with this place,” she says. “It is an institution here, and we want to carry it on, continue the tradition of the eclectic bistro and add on to that.”
In January, they became owners of the café.
Heather and Scott met while both worked for a local fine dining restaurant — and even got married there.
You might say they are married to their work, but neither calls it work, because they love what they do. Heather is the chef (and bottle washer, she adds) — she has been cooking professionally since she was 18. Scott is the “front” man, who manages the dining room. He enjoys the people and making them happy with “high quality food without the burden of pretension.”
“We want to be the local meeting place where you can enjoy local foods in a rather eclectic atmosphere,” he says.
They appreciate the tradition started by Marilyn Harrison in 1987 when she first opened Sweet Meadow. They have kept some of her most popular items on the menu like her crab cake salad and apple strudel made fresh every day by Ritchie Mutz, who has offered this tasty creation since the beginning.
Heather has added some items to the menu to cater to different tastes and dietary needs.
“We are vegetarian and vegan friendly,” she says.
Some gluten-free items have joined the selections, prompted by the fact that their son must eat gluten-free. They have a local artisan baker who makes all their breads, including gluten-free versions. They also use local produce as much as possible with their recipes and shop the local farmers market along with being a member of the local farmers’ co-op, Bread Riot.
Their menu items are as eclectic as the surroundings and they have specials every day, which provide a real adventure in new flavors. Specials such as Caribbean jerk salmon taco ($9.95) and the rib eye sandwich ($10.95) or the pan-seared duck breast salad with raspberry vinaigrette are offered at lunch time, which is served from 11 am. until 2 p.m. Monday through Friday.
You can also get a variety of dishes off the menu at lunch. Some of the more popular ones include black bean burger — a hand-made vegetarian black bean burger pan-seared and topped with provolone cheese and fresh tomato on ciabatta or as a salad ($8.95).
Marilyn’s crab cake salad or sandwich ($10.95) is another option, along with tuna tacos (blackened sashimi tuna served with their mango-kiwi salsa and spring mix on a flour tortilla) with a side of black beans and rice ($9.95).
We tried this one, because it sounded so unusual, and it was excellent. The tuna was just right and the salsa on it added a great blend of flavors with the fruit. The black beans and rice on the side tasted as good as they looked. The presentation was delightful.
Dinner is also served on Friday and Saturday nights from 5:30 until 8:30. Evening specials can include such dishes as cheddar cheese and black pepper ravioli with a pomadoro sauce ($17.95); the shoulder filet a la Oscar — a pan-seared filet of beef with lump crabmeat and a hollandaise sauce topped with fresh asparagus ($25.95); or a pan-seared orange coriander sashimi tuna with a dijon crčme sauce ($22.95). Regular menu fair offers the popular pan-seared duck served with a blackberry merlot sauce ($23.95) and the Italian sausage — grilled mild Italian sausage served with sautéed peppers and onions ($17.99).
Sunday brunch has become a favorite for many after church. Served from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. each Sunday, you can order an apple walnut chicken salad ($8.95); Von’s Monte Cristo — ham, Swiss and dijon mustard on sourdough bread cooked French toast style with four-berry compote ($9.95); quiche of the mid-day — either a veggie quiche or one such as the Irish cheddar cheese bacon and red onion quiche ($8.95); Eggs ala Oscar — and English muffin topped with hand-made crab cake, poached eggs, asparagus and hollandaise sauce ($14.95) or a gluten-free French toast ($8.95).
Desserts are incredible too. The apple strudel is the most popular item. “People come from far and wide to eat it,” Heather says.
They also offer such delicacies as chocolate toffee mousse pie, bourbon pecan pie and classic cheesecake with four berry compote.
The wine and beer list is also impressive. Scott knows this facet well as he has been a sommelier (a person well versed in wine, he explains) for 10 years and has taught wine and beer appreciation at a nearby community college.
“We have a nice selection of artisan beers and wines,” he says. “We offer something that goes well with every item, and won’t break the bank.” They also have special drinks like the mimosa, bellini and the sake Mary (a homemade bloody Mary mix with sake, not vodka, that has become quite popular).
“We are a little out of the ordinary, without being out of the way,” Scott says.
The Sweet Meadow is located at 118 W. Innes St. and also provides catering, to go items and private parties. Open Monday-Friday 11 a.m.- 2 p.m., Friday and Saturday night 5:30-8:30 p.m. and Sunday for brunch from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. The phone number is 704-637-8715.