The Gypsy Café moved into the old Pine Cone space and decorated it, not in a gypsy theme particularly, but more of a stage door/theater look. Breakfasts and lunches are good, and the owners are now offering a fixed price fried chicken dinner on Fridays.
The meal costs $20.00 including beverage. The entre is pan-fried chicken, with braised winter greens, asiago bread pudding (a savory pudding) and a Caesar salad.
I have wanted to try this for a month, and I finally made it in night before last. The place was about two-thirds full, and because I wanted a table instead of a seat at the counter, they put me in the back room, which is small. It soon filled up. There was a guitarist up at the front playing flamenco music and singing. He wasn’t the best singer-guitarist I ever heard, but he was enthusiastic. It may just be the acoustics, but I’ve heard music in there before that’s sounded better. Nice guy, though.
The Caesar salad came first. The lettuce was crisp and fresh (the torn bases of the stalks were white with no hint of browning), and the dressing was creamy but not too heavy. It had a faintly lemony bite. The salad had a sprinkle of Romano cheese. I liked it. I ordered an Ace pumpkin hard cider. I haven’t had hard cider before. The alcohol content was 5% and the drink was fizzy and sweet, almost like a soft drink. I wasn’t really getting much of pumpkin flavor—it was mostly apple. This was a beverage that proves the fallacy of “sip tests,” like they have in the malls. The first two draughts were great, but about halfway through the glass I found it a little cloying and really wanted some water. Okay, though, I can check the box—I’ve had hard cider.
There was a bit of a glitch and I waited for a long time between my salad and the chicken. It was okay; I had a Murakami novel. Eventually, though, they brought my plate. They serve three pieces of chicken, wing, breast and thigh. The crust was pan-fried to a dark brown, nearly chocolate color. It was not burned; this was the desired color. The chicken was not greasy and in my case that the breast piece was a little bit dry. I didn’t taste any particular spices or herbs. The crust was crunchy. The greens, chard I think, were earthy and very, very tasty, but the star of this plate was the asiago bread pudding. It had plenty of cheese and sprinkling of stewed tomato, and a silky, melt-on-your-tongue texture. Evenly cut chunks of bread balanced the silkiness of melted cheese and the tomato.
For dessert the server brought around mini-cupcakes, with green and red sprinkles.
The kitchen was hopping. I peered in as I left and saw a six-foot tall rolling rack loaded with breaded chicken parts.
I think this is a clever way to test the water for dinner service. It’s also a good time of year to launch this limited service because shops are open later for holiday shopping. The big front room has mostly tables for four or six, so around holiday time, here’s a relatively inexpensive way to spend time with family and friends. Very low-stress, too; people are friendly, no big decisions about what you’re going to order, and you know exactly what you’ll pay.
The Gypsy Café is trying to carve out some new territory on a Main Street packed with eateries. They have community tables, and the live music creates a social, convivial atmosphere. Fried chicken, I was reminded, is not one of my favorite things, but the meal was good overall. The Café has a less ambitious and more consistent menu than the people in that space before them; they run the front of the house better and in general seem to have greater business confidence. They also have good food. I think they’ll make it.