A Review of the Willows and a Rain Run

by Joanne on May 8, 2010

It was the perfect morning:  cooking and running.  I was up and cooking. Literally.  Ted and friends were off on a golfing excursion and I was making pepper and egg sandwiches for them.  Roasting the sweet peppers, toasting the bread that was basted with olive oil, garlic, a little Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  Cooking eggs then putting in all together. 

Before making the “sammies”, I had 1/2 a banana and 1 TBS of peanut butter to fuel my intended 8 mile run which resulted in 9+.  I wanted to do at least 30 miles this week.  A few sips of water, prepare the water bottle and baggy for Shane and out the door we went.  OH!  A kiss good bye and a “have a great time” for Ted before leaving the house.

It was raining.  It was 48 degrees and there was wind.  The weather was NOT motivating my run.  I was able to avoid puddles and wasn’t feeling soaked through  until we reached the 2 1/2 mile point.   There were cows in the field, up close to the road.  Shane has never seen cows up close and personal like  that before.  His ears and head were up.  Then one cow which was laying down decided to get up.  Shane growled, woofed and leaped to the side right into my leg (THE BIG CHICKEN!).  At that point, my leg was soaked since he was so wet.  Still…we ran on. 

It was a different route today, tree laden, quiet and pretty.  The wind was in our face for the first 4 1/2 miles.  It was at our backs for a bit then stopped.  The rain tapered but the skies were grey.    Just as we were turning the corner for home, there was the car full of golfing buddies enroute.  “BYE!  HAVE A GREAT TIME!”  Off they went. Off I went to get warm and dry. 

The rain run today was a total of 9.12 miles at an average pace of 9.19.  Not bad.  I felt good in spite of the rain. 

Now, what about that restaurant…..


There is a new restaurant in town. 


It’s called “the willows” on Culver Avenue in Utica.  DSC01124

A nice bar area with bar seating for about 8 and tall tables along the wall for more.


An adequate carpeted dining room with a private party room behind that door in the back.

It was Thursday evening and the restaurant was packed when Ted and I arrived. It would be a 45 minute wait.  We enjoyed a glass of red wine in the bar area which was loud with celebratory voices, from twenty year olds to retirees. 


The Amarone was my choice but had too much “tang” for me. The Shiraz that Ted ordered was a bit fruitier so we swapped. 


We perused the menu while waiting and were quite excited by the options available. Pricing was average for gourmet dining around Utica.


Someone at the end of the bar ordered the greens appetizer so I tried to zoom in on their food (inconspicuously of course!).  I was able to capture a very blurry photo of a pile of greens.  the willows makes their greens with sausage. 


We were finally seated, about 45 minutes later, close to the fire place which was lit and creating a nice relaxed atmosphere over the loud voices of several large tables of patrons.

We were given water but not one of the three waitresses even looked at our table as if intending to serve us.  I finally said to a waitress passing “is there a waitress for our table?”  She immediately tracked someone down and the young lady said she would be with us in a minute.  That turned into about 5 minutes.  We were hungry and, by this time, keeping track of the time.


While waiting, we decided to split a glass of Chardonnay.  It was better than either of the previous reds.

Our server finally stopped long enough to take our order.  They were out of the greens, the veal (YAY!) and the salmon (BOO!). 

Ted ordered the 1/2 roasted chicken and I ordered the yellow fin tuna. 


The bread, although not warm, was soft with a delicate, moist, slightly salty crumb.  Very good.


The salad was fresh and crisp.  I had simply oil and red wine vinegar with bleu cheese crumbles on the side.  Ted had a house creamy balsamic and he said that dressing was really good and smooth.


It was 8:45 and no dinner was on our table.  The large party tables had been disassembled after the customers left and were now empty and back against the wall.


The entire restaurant was emptying out as it was getting late. The private party room door stood open as those customers had gone home as well.


FINALLY!  Half a roasted chicken on rice pilaf with vegetable medley was presented to Ted.


DSC01143 FINALLY!  A towering display of yellow fin tuna in a pumpkin seed crust with baby spinach sauté, vegetable medley and a side of soy coconut and grape tomato sauce was presented to me.


The food was excellent. 

The waiting for 2 1/2 hours to eat it was not.

There was no time to check out their coffee. We just wanted to get home.

The best coffee was to be had at home – so glad I waited….

DSC01145 DSC01146

I shook up my soy cream to make the coffee look frothy

It tasted better that way.

As for “the willows”:  Great food. Nice atmosphere.  Long wait.  Maybe we should give them time to get settled in.  At that point, they won’t run out of food and they will be able to seat and serve in a more timely manner.

What is the maximum amount of time you are willing to wait for a table?  I think Ted and I are somewhat impatient.


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    • At 2010.05.08 11:27, Liz said:

      Poor Shane! Irving is the same way LOL He acts all tough until whatever it is he was barking at (another dog, a deer, a squirrel, a leaf blowing around…) gets near him, then he hides behind my legs. It’s so funny. When I first came to your blog in my Reader, I saw “THE BIG CHICKEN” first since it stands out. Well, there is a local “landmark” here called The Big Chicken so I was wondering why you were talking about that haha http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Chicken

      Ryan and I usually try to eat out during the week because most of the restaurants around here do not accept reservations and typically have at least an hour wait just to be seated. I don’t want to spend that kind of time sitting in a crowded waiting area before dinner. Of course, once you’ve ordered is a different story. I would definitely complain after sitting there for a long time waiting for food. Not fun! We had this happen earlier in the week also, though not as long as your wait. Hopefully they get their stuff a bit better organized and prevent those kinds of wait times in the future.
      .-= Liz´s last blog ..CEiMB: Lemon Garlic Marinated Pork Chops =-.

      • At 2010.05.08 14:08, Joanne said:

        Thanks Liz. I always think it is best to wait a few months after a restaurant opens before trying it.

        • At 2010.05.08 14:12, runnerforever said:

          The food looks really good, especially that bread! My mom will reject like five tables before accepting one haha. I’m not too picky because I HATE waiting.
          .-= runnerforever´s last blog ..Intuitive? =-.

          • At 2010.05.08 19:37, Joanne said:

            We don’t like waiting either and in Utica, it really is unusual to have to wait any longer than 20 minutes.

            • At 2010.05.08 16:31, Simply Life said:

              wow, that’s great that such a new restaurant is already so busy! I’ll usually only wait if there are plenty of places nearby to occupy my time and/or if I assume every other restaurant around will have the same wait!
              .-= Simply Life´s last blog .."Be in a dress by 6!" =-.

              • At 2010.05.08 19:38, Joanne said:

                Same here. But Ted hates to wait. He’s up for taking chances elsewhere if the wait is too long.

                • At 2010.05.08 18:38, pegasuslegend said:

                  Well all I can say, is thats diffinitely not our style. If my husband see’s a line, its a no go, 40 minutes is too long no less to wait for his dinner unless they give you a ton of appetizers. I must say that tuna crusted with pumkin seeds sound awesome, and the almost foccacia looking bread looks good. But 2 1/2 hours, I am assuming since there was no one in there but you left, they either forgot or had to recook the food for some reason? Anyway, not worth the wait, looks reasonably priced, glad you posted, not somewhere I would want to waste the whole day on to eat when I get there…..thanks Joanne~
                  .-= pegasuslegend´s last blog ..Flavored Butters For Breads, Vegetables and Meat Recipes =-.

                  • At 2010.05.08 19:40, Joanne said:

                    Maybe next time you come up, they will be settled and it will be a new place to experience. They need a little time.

                    • At 2010.05.09 04:14, Anne @ Food Loving Polar Bear said:

                      I hate waiting unnecessary long in restaurants, no matter how posh they are. I think 45 min is my limit and I have walked out if I’ve had to wait longer. But great stuff that the dinner was delicious even though you had to wait so long 🙂
                      .-= Anne @ Food Loving Polar Bear´s last blog ..Good Times =-.

                      • At 2010.05.10 10:50, Nancy Jean said:

                        So good of you to make the boys a home-cooked breakfast before their road trip, Joanne.

                        It’s nice to hear the The Willows was packed so soon after opening, but if they keep that kind of service up they’ll not be long in existence, even with good food. I think you and Ted were mighty patient … first the 45 minute wait, which isn’t too awful I guess, but then waiting more than another hour before your dinner arrived?! We would have left much sooner than that! As you say, they may just need time to sort things out but at the very least I should think your waitress would have come right over to you after having waited so long for the table.

                        Your cake for Mother’s Day was just beautiful, and reading the description of the fillings made my mouth water! You have such a gift. So sweet of Pam to remember you … Robbie called the house yesterday morning and first wished me, then Mom, a Happy Mother’s Day. We were both touched.

                        Have a great week!

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