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Windy Hill Restaurant

November 01, 2010

By Anne Chovey

Special to The Herald-Mail

Windy Hill Restaurant sits on the hill outside of Clear Spring, just off Interstate 70. I had passed it many times, but never gone in until my friend, Kay Sedea, and I stopped for lunch recently.

The restaurant, which has been open since 1976, sits in a brick building with ample parking across the front.

We entered a small room with about eight tables and a bar along one side. It reminded me of the small independently owned family restaurants I used to go as a child: the type of place that has almost disappeared from the dining scene.

Windy Hill has a private dining room available for group meetings popular with groups who favor home-style cooking.

The restaurant has been in business for a number of years, and could use a bit of updating. The tables and chairs are ordinary and the walls are decorated rather haphazardly with vintage posters and advertisements.

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Music played in the background and it was current "Top 40" young people's music -- at odds with the clientele who were mostly older folks or people with young children.

There was one waitress on duty for lunch and she invited us to sit wherever we chose. Once we were seated she handed us menus and took our drink order.

The menu was exactly what I had expected. Sandwiches -- including hamburgers, tuna and chicken salad and bacon, lettuce and tomato -- were listed on one page. These were very reasonably priced at less than $3.50 for just the sandwich. French fries and cole slaw could be added for an additional $2.19.

Other sandwiches listed were country ham, pork tenderloin and fish fillets and, of course, hot turkey and hot roast beef. These were slightly more expensive.

On the facing page were dinner entrees "From the Sea" and "From the Land."  The "Sea" options included shrimp, crab and salmon cakes and haddock.

The "Land" options were all the old favorites: pork chops, Salisbury steak, roast beef, chicken tenders and beef liver and onions. Most options were between $7 and $10, except for a couple of steak dinners that were $15.99 to $16.99.

We decided to begin with an order of onion rings, which arrived very hot and crispy.  They were the whole ring and not the chopped pre-formed kind. (The pre-formed are easier to eat, but in my opinion are vastly inferior to the other sort.) These were perfect.

Kay chose baked haddock for her entrée along with pepper slaw and green beans as her side dishes.

I decided on salmon cakes -- something my mother had made when I was growing up and which I hadn't seen on a restaurant menu in years. I chose curly fries and applesauce as my sides. Other sides available were corn, peas, lots of potatoes and cottage cheese.

After a brief wait, our food arrived. I had two good-sized perfectly rounded salmon cakes, dark golden brown.

A substantial serving of curly fries covered the rest of the plate. I dug in.

The salmon cakes were just as I remembered as a little girl: Not fancy, not exotic, not highly spiced -- just plain, down-home cooking. The curly fries were also not spicy, just hot and crispy.

Kay sampled her haddock, which was baked without breading and topped with parsley.

"This is good," she said.  She was less impressed with the green beans, which seemed to be out of the can.

The pepper slaw had large pieces of green pepper in it and really got her attention. It was in a very vinegary dressing that made our lips smack.

Our waitress was kept busy with other patrons during our visit. She did offer refills to others (but not to us) and was careful to make sure she got all orders right.

One patron, in particular, made very specific requests for how his food was served and she assured him that she would follow his demands to the letter.

Kay and I decided we needed to sample the "homemade" pies. We asked our waitress what she recommended.  "Coconut cream," was her immediate response.  That was the best part of the meal.

The filling was sweet and creamy and the meringue was delicate and light.

I can imagine traveling on Interstate 70 and being tired of the big chain restaurants and ubiquitous fast food places and finding Windy Hill restaurant.  It would feel like going home.

*Anne Chovey is a pseudonym for a Herald-Mail freelance writer who reviews restaurants anonymously to avoid special treatment.



Restaurant Review


2 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)

Food:   21/2

Service:    21/2

Ambiance: 2  1/2

Value:   2 1/2

Address: 13120 Clear Spring Road, Clear Spring

Phone: 301-842-2827

Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday

Food: Home-style dinners and sandwiches with homemade pies.  No vegetarian options are on the menu.

Bathrooms:  The bathrooms could use updating.  One of the stalls was out of order

Parking and handicapped accessibility:  Ample parking exists in the front of the  restaurant.  My friend, Kay, has mobility issues and had no problem in the restaurant.

Reservations are not necessary.

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