Thankfully, Wooster, Ohio has more to offer culinary-wise than just the South Market Bistro. I have now been twice rebuffed from this eatery. The first time I tried to go, it was on a day that the restaurant was completely closed. Not to be beaten again, I checked the Local Yahoo website listing for the South Market Bistro and picked a day that they would be open for lunch. Unfortunately, it didn't occur to me to also check South Market Bistro's actual website for hours. Sadly, when I arrived at my destination, I discovered that while this restaurant may have been open for lunch in the past, they were now only open for dinner. Crap!
Being that South Market Bistro is located exactly in the middle of beautiful downtown Wooster, I figured there had to be something else good to eat within walking distance. And boy, how! I saw an Italian restaurant called El Grande that looked promising, but what really piqued my interest was when I rounded the corner onto East Liberty and stumbled upon the Broken Rocks Bakery & Cafe. They are located at 123 E Liberty St, Wooster, OH 44691 and can be reached at 330-263-2949.
Here is a shot of the front of the building:
What convinced me to walk through the front door was a little blurb posted in the window talking about how the owner had developed a sourdough culture and that had fueled his bakery and now this cafe. Real sourdough bread? I'm SO there. I was there around 12:45 pm and the place was maybe 1/3 full. Fortunately, my hostess sat me near the front of the building where there was a lot of light coming in through the windows. She handed me the menu and walked away to get my glass of water.
The menu is divided into standard areas, soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas, pizzas, and entrees. The front side is here:
And the back side is here:
Everything is made from scratch and today I had a choice of four different soups. They had tomato and roasted garlic, sausage and lentil, asparagus and shiitake (vegetarian option), and another one that I have now forgotten. Because it was lunchtime, there was also a smaller lunch-specific menu that listed the daily specials.
While I sat there pondering what to order, I decided to take some ambiance shots of the restaurant. First up, the bar area across from my table:
There are additional tables behind the half-wall on the left side of the photo. In the very back of the space is the open kitchen and bakery.
A shot of the lovely table adornments, each table having it's own set of flowers:
Having decided to go with the asparagus and shiitake soup for a starter, my server brought some of their signature sourdough bread and nicely softened butter for me to try prior to the arrival of the soup.
Here is a shot of the bread:
And a close-up of the crumb:
This was excellent bread! A very good example of an Eastern European sourdough. The dough contains a blend of both wheat and rye flours and the sourdough component was not overwhelming in the way that a San Francisco sourdough can be. This had a mildly acidic kick and was absolutely fresh and wonderful. The irregular hole structure in the crumb also tells me that this was a more highly hydrated dough which makes them harder to handle. Clearly this was handmade by someone with knowledge and expertise.
Shortly after my bread arrived, my soup arrived:
The soup was hit and miss. Besides the lovely pieces of asparagus and shiitake that were in the soup, it also contained bits of onion and potato as well. The concept for the soup was a good one, but it missed in two ways. First, the soup base was not pureed well enough. This meant that the potato could be "felt" on the mouth. This gave the soup a gritty texture as opposed to a smooth one. Second, the soup lacked a flavor punch. It wasn't that the soup lacked salt; it didn't. But it just didn't have the kind of character that grabbed hold of your taste buds and didn't let go.
For my sandwich, I decided to go with the Blue BBQ burger with Jo Jos. Here are some shots of the burger and "fries":
The burger is a half-pound ground beef burger from a locally sourced farm served with Maytag blue cheese, a homemade spicy BBQ sauce, a honey Dijon mustard dressing, and lettuce and mild red onion served on some of the bakery's focaccia bread that has been split and grilled. I ordered it medium and that was how I received it. This sandwich was fantastic. The burger was hot and juicy, the various toppings and sauces all complimented each other so well and the Maytag blue cheese added the nice sharp, salty flavor that really brought everything together. The grilled focaccia also helped to keep the integrity of the sandwich as there was plenty of liquid coming out of this guy.
Jo Jos, for those of my gentle readers not from the northeast Ohio area are simply potato wedges that are baked or more commonly fried. Sometimes they are battered, sometimes not. These jo jos were simply fried until crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside and then treated with a bit of seasoning. Served with a side of ketchup, I wouldn't call them the ultimate version of this Ohio delicacy, but certainly a tasty version.
After the bowl full of soup and the 1/2 pound burger and jo jos I had just enjoyed, the thought of dessert was simply too much to think about. However, I did decide to take a photo of the dessert menu, in case you want to check it out:
Doesn't the Apple Pecan Crisp sound just delicious? Yum. Next time I go back to Broken Rocks, I'm definitely going to have to check out the actual desserts they serve.
I'm very happy that I stumbled upon the Broken Rocks Bakery & Cafe after my original plans were dashed. I'm also happy to discover that Wooster is much more than a one-restaurant destination stop. If you are planning a trip into Wooster, or if you already happen to live there, I heartily recommend you stop in and try some of the delicious bakery and restaurant items that they have to offer.