WOOSTER, Oh. – You don’t expect to find great farm-to-fork restaurant food in a small northeast Ohio town best known for its household kitchen containers and paint brushes! But South Market Bistro in Wooster, home of Rubbermaid and Wooster Paint Brushes, holds up to many big city eateries.
Visiting Wooster for the paying job tomorrow, our small traveling group sought out good eats and selected South Market Bistro. In a word: it ROCKS!
I started with two sea scallops, tasting very fresh for land-locked NE Ohio, lying in a bed of bacon cream sauce and topped with crispy leeks! The scallops were cooked perfectly, the leaks very crispy and tasty, and the sauce uber-savory without clobbering the palate with bacon goodness.
The house salad featured spinach and bean sprouts and was not particularly remarkable but very tasty, fresh, and enjoyable.
I had the “Porky-Pork” entree which really lived up to its name. Chef Erik Roth starts with a pork tenderloin and wraps it in bacon with an applewood-smoked flavor. It’s drenched in an apple cider reduction. The flavors are absolutely delicious. I would have liked a little more seasoning – simple salt or pepper to balance the sweetness of the reduction – but it was cooked to perfection.
The sides were braised red cabbage (excellent!), local spinach, and sweet potato gratin. The sides were prefect. The cabbage was tangy, the spinach fresh, the sweet potato needed a little zest but the three complements worked well.
We skipped dessert for a wine bar down the street but the dessert menu looked great.
The restaurant had an affordable and extensive wine list. I counted 18 whites and 22 red wines available at very affordable restaurant prices. While some markups were 100 percent (often the norm in upscale locations) many were just 50 percent on the upper end.
We had a bottle of Fess Parker 2010 Syrah. This wine is an entry level central California Coast Syrah that sells around $20. We paid $38 and really enjoyed it.
The wine had big fruit but stayed smooth over the palate and lingered on the finish. I have long been familiar with the Fess Parker label but this was my first tasting. I came away favorably impressed for a $20 (retail) wine.
The list had selections on the white side ranging form $29-$79 and reds from $39-$80. Cellar selections included names like Silver Oak and Far Nientte at $135-$165.
Overall, its hard to imagine a better restaurant in a town of 26,000 people. The two aforementioned industries are located here along with the College of Wooster – a small liberal arts college of slightly more than 2,000 students.
If you EVER have reason to pass through Wooster, eat here.
We capped our evening at SoMar Wine Cellars just down the street. We bought a bottle of entry level Argyle Pinot Noir for $26 that normally sells just under $20. It’s a beautiful setting with a gorgeous patio featuring a gas fire pit. A small plate of cheese was a nice complement but not chocolate! 😦
Again, for a town this size it was a rather amazing place.
All in all, a really nice Friday night before a long Saturday of work!