Saturday, January 26, 2013

Get Out of Town: Lunch on Limoges

Feel like getting out of Dodge for a day? Head to Dade City. With its quaint courthouse square, hilly green countryside and Mayberry-esque downtown, you'll think you left the state. But don't expect much more than a change of scenery and lots of antique stores. Go with the mindset of spending a lazy afternoon browsing through junk from decades past and enjoying a relaxed meal at Williams Lunch on Limoges, a Southern Living magazine favorite located across from the historic Pasco County Courthouse.

Williams Lunch on Limoges. Part retail, part restaurant. Works for them!

I have been to Lunch on Limoges several times and it's always enjoyable. The theme is straightforward Southern fare -- big on calories and buttery flavor -- served by "seasoned" waitresses wearing uniforms reminiscent of Flo's from the '70s TV show "Alice." These gals can hustle, and they mean business, as in "I'm not here to chat it up or put up with a lot of nonsense, but I'll be polite and efficient." You go, Granny!

The atmosphere is one you won't find every day, unless you hang out in eateries that share space with retail stores. This restaurant cohabitates with a store that is part gift shop, part fashion boutique. A smattering of colorfully covered dining tables are intermingled with the merchandise.

Lunch on Limoges has Red Hat ladies written all over it, but last Saturday's crowd actually included a bunch of middle-aged guys. I have to say that I don't recall ever seeing a kid in this restaurant, and I got a kick out of a sign near the front door that reads "Minimum of one entree per person." How diplomatic! How about: "If you plan to share a plate, get out!" Oh yeah, we aren't in Brooklyn.

Now for those entrees...After we got settled at our inviting, fresh-flower-topped table, Flo carried over an easel-type chalkboard that listed the day's menu. Hubmeister got the pecan-encrusted chicken breast entree -- the house specialty that I have scarfed down on previous occasions -- and I ordered soup and a sandwich.

The pecan dredge on the chicken also is offered with a grouper entree.

Deliciously simplistic, the chicken breast was breaded, coated in pecan pieces and perfectly cooked, sauteed in a buttery, sugary praline sauce. It was accompanied by two sides: butternut squash casserole and potatoes. The butternut squash was a dead ringer for sweet potato casserole sans marshmallow. It was smooth and sweet. The potatoes were soft, chunky and rather boring. In fact, I am having a hard time remembering them, except for the fact that I recall their lack of pizazz.

Gobble, gobble...This is real turkey.

Soup of the day was French onion, which came alongside a turkey-stuffed croissant. The soup featured chopped onion in a light broth and, although the stock lacked a rich and beefy complexity, I didn't detect any cheap bouillon cube component. Served with a floating toasted baguette slice, the soup contained a blob of melted cheese that had mysteriously disappeared into the soup by the time the bowl reached me. All told, the soup was fair at best.

What impressed me most about my lunch was the turkey in the croissant. It was REAL turkey, not processed turkey lunch meat. Sliced from an actual turkey breast, the meat was very tasty combined with a berry-laced mayo, bacon and Swiss cheese. The croissant was pedestrian but passable.

If you look to the left of the waitress, you'll see a gigantic cake and a big ol' pie.

Desserts displayed on the service counter of the open kitchen would tempt most sweet tooths. I spied mile-high coconut cake and a towering apple pie. Things don't come small in the South, ya'll. After polishing off the basket of mini-muffins and pineapple butter that were brought to the table before lunch was served, we felt we needed to skip dessert and enjoy another round of coffee, which Flo and Alice refilled tirelessly -- after all, we did order two entrees!

Verdict: A pleasant diversion from Tampa

Lunch On Limoges on Urbanspoon

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