On the way back from a trek to Ithaca to hear two feminist icons, Judith Butler and Denise Riley, we stopped to dine at Simply Red, aka Simply Red Lakeside Bistro at Sheldrake Point Vineyard. We had heard good things about the chef, a woman named Samantha Izzo, and were a bit into procrastination. It was a Monday and that, we discovered, is a night where they have music and a Southern food theme. Simply Red is along the eastern side of Cayuga Lake and has a lovely view.
We had some trouble choosing but eventually had:
Appetizers: Nada though I was tempted by the fried green tomatoes.
Entrees: One of us ordered ribs, which looked great, another fried catfish and yes, I ordered the meatloaf. Each came with a choice of sides; they were out of collard greens (alas) but macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, okra and tomatoes, were all available. Each also came with corn bread. The meatloaf was kind of heavy and there was loads of it, but it was pretty darn comforting as comfort foods go. The mac and cheese did not quite come up to my usual decadent preferences -- the macaroni was shells. (Ok, some say these hold the cheese better, but I prefer the traditional macaroni shape for my mac & cheese.) The okra and tomatoes was a bit runny, in my view. Having said all this, I consumed a lot of my dinner and enjoyed it -- and though I wish it had been a bit spicier, I found it tasty. I didn't consult with anyone else -- but their meals disappeared with gusto. I'd say we were at the "I would go back but it would not necessarily be described as a gourmet frenzy destination."
Dessert: We were stuffed. So. . . despite being introgued by the name ofthe Slow Ass Ginger Cake, we controlled ourselves and headed home.
DRINKS: While Simply Red is at a winery, they do not feel obvliged to serve ONLY their own wines! Yes, they do have a wine tasting room, and yes you can get their wines by the glass and bottle, but you can ALSO get wines from around the world and a variety of beers, including an organic beer. You cannot, alas, get wines from around the world by the glass.
SERVICE: We arrived without a reservation on what is clearly a popular night. We had to wait a little but they were quite gracious about it. Once seated, the service was a little slow to get going. But, then again, it was busy and we were in no real rush.
SETTING: The setting is across the road from Cayuga lake, so it is not quite as "lake-sided" as advertised. Nevertheless, the setting is certainly beautiful. The restaurant has loads of windows. One thing the anonymous bathroom reviewer commented on that she likes is that they do not use asphalt in their parking lot. Yep, ecologically friendly. The restaurant has loads of windows looking out to the lake.
ON THE WALLS: Hmmm. No memory of this at all. There are, though, those wonderful windows.
MINOR QUIBBLE(S): The music was a tad loud, though it was also pretty fun if you are into a sort of cross between bluegrass and cajun.
EXTRAS: The restaurant is attached to the wine tasting room, so yhou can wine taste while waiting. And hey sell various foodie things like cheese and crackers and sauces and ... wine. In addition, they sell some t-shirts and aprons.
OVERALL: Pretty inexpensive -- we spent a total of $60 for three people, including tip. And the food was surprisingly comfortable and comforting. I wonder what it is like on a night that does not focus on Southern food?
ALSO REVIEWED AT: Ithaca Times