This was the second night in a row that I was planning on making homemade pizza and went without - both for the exactly same reason. I went through the workday rehearsing the motions in my head: get out the KitchenAid. Measure out the flour and yeast, add in the water and oil but don't boil it like the instructions say. The boil is a lie. Top with a little cheese, don't use too much or you'll only get 2 pieces. You'll want 3. Actually, you'll want to eat the whole thing. Don't.
Then, I get home. And I see Matt, but there is not the requisite loaf of mozzarella. I ask, "did you forget?" He hangs his head in shame. Last night, I went off-the-cuff and made a yummy chicken orzo dish that tasted fabulous topped with a little sriracha. Well, what DOESN'T taste delicious topped with a little sriracha?
Tonight, I was totally not in the mood. Forgot the cheese? Want me to go all Iron Chef on the pantry? Fuck that. You are driving me to a restaurant, sir. We argued a little over the places in Wilsonville:
Matt: "Can we go to Hunan Kitchen?"
Me: "No, didn't you see that Weight Watchers Chinese Buffet game? Kung Pao Chicken is like 20 points! What about Sushi Avenue?"
Matt: "I'm not paying $40 for a few pieces of sushi."
Me: "What about Abella's?"
Matt: "Didn't you say that was on Dirty Dining?"
Me: "Like a YEAR ago! What about that place in Canby I've wanted to try?"
Matt: "Can't we just go to Dairy Queen?"
Me: "Fine, you go to Dairy Queen, I'll go to Safeway and get a cup of soup."
And so it went, until we reached the cutoff and veered toward Aurora/Canby. "Where are we going?" I asked.
"That place you wanted to try."
I wasn't going to kick this extremely rare gift horse in the mouth, so I sat patiently and gave him final directions to the Canby Grand Central Station. The building, a large two-story farmhouse across from the railroad tracks, has had three or four incarnations since I first frequented this area. I tried one of them, Seasons Grill. Expensive, bland, boring American-y steak house fare. And from what little I can remember, pretty ugly decor.
When we stepped inside, we were greeted with an air of class one does not normally associate with Canby. Dark woods and deep-colored walls, Tuscan-style lights and wall hangings, a really pretty antique buffet table. A magnum of Silver Oak Cab that made me smile, thinking of its recent inclusion in 'Southbound.' Sorry, I've become a little obsessed with myself lately. I'm hoping in a good way. Anyway. The hostess seats us and this sweet, smiling waitress is on her heels right away. It's an absolute contrast to the abominable service we got downtown last Friday (but that's another story, which I just Yelp-ed). The menu had a nice variety, and I tried to square in on something that wouldn't take away all my Flex points for the week. Fish sounded good (I've been single-handedly massacring the American chicken population recently), so I opted for the tilapia. Matt, of course, went for The Philly (a cheesesteak-meets-French dip sandwich monster). My entree came with soup or salad, and the waitress whole-heartedly recommended the house special, Mushroom Parmesean.
"It's really, really good," she promised. Soup sounded perfect on this cool and sometimes stormy fall day, so I agreed to try it. I'm thinking a nice, brothy minestrone-type thing.
Instead, she comes smiling out of the kitchen with a cup of... creamy, heavenly ladled sin. "I brought you some bread, too, since it's kind of like fondue," she explained, setting down a fresh-baked loaf between us.
Now maybe it's the fat-deprivation talking, but this was one of the best soups I can remember eating in ages. They were definitely using a good parmesean, which had a nutty, earthy complexity other cheesy soups can't touch. The mushrooms were extremely subtle and only echoed these rich flavors. Strands of parmesean caught the bread, my chin, and thank God for Matt because without his assistance I would have polished the entire thing in one gulp by myself.
The freshness of the fish and veggies in my entree was also notable. The carrots and zucchini were well-seasoned and tasted sauteed, not at all microwaved. My fish, despite all my good intentions and asking for no crispy onions on top, had a crust. So I may have kind of not been fantastic tonight. But at least I didn't eat The Philly with garlic-gorgonzola fries. But Matt did. And he thoroughly enjoyed it.
There is nothing worse than having your expectations set up for a place and being let down, but when you're pleasantly surprised out of the blue by another, it almost makes up for it. Canby Grand Central Station restored my faith in local food, and by extension, humanity. And that's saying a lot; I took some really particularly shitty phone calls today.