Photos © J. Lowe 2008
Last Saturday morning began with a drive to Providence Farms on #89 west of Fennville, MI to collect the three organic chickens I had ordered some weeks before. The farm was busy with fellow collectors, rubber booted workers and lounging Labradors. Short in supply of chicken parts (if not fava beans, then give me livers), another man gracefully gave up his bag to me so I might savour the first time joy of Providence poultry lobe on toast for my following Sunday brunch. Stowing my chickens in a cooler, off I went to Fennville proper to visit my most favourite restaurant in the scope of a few hundred miles.
From A to B with a garage sale in between (where I bought a Lyle Lovett cassette for 10¢) I moseyed down the road, the scent of lilac in my nose and the delightful sight, in classic Lynch ‘Straight Story’ style, of a man driving his ride-on mower, trundling along with his trusty canine companion who’s ears flapped perpendicular to his little body in the wind.
Journeyman Cafe, at 112 E.Main Street, is an example of purveyance, fortitude and very good taste. Ingredients, sought locally and seasonally are used in balance and proportion. The menu is complex in terms of one trying to make a meal choice, yet is simple in feel for the time of day and year.
I wanted to try all sorts of offerings but such is the solipsism of the lone eater. Saturday lunchtime; is it house made fennel sausage with pappardelle, roasted peppers and onions, or is it soft scrambled eggs on garlic toast with, oh my still yearning love, sauteed morel mushrooms?
I chose a Quiche with ramps and smoky bacon. Goodness, what a flavoursome plate. When it arrived I smelled the warmth of it. The pastry was buttery and short, like an old fashioned pork pie from England. The egg was like a soufflé, rich but light and waffly like a scrambled calf brain dish I had way back when I was dating an Iranian guy. The bacon had the smokiness of Lapsang souchong tea and the ramps were almost seaweedy in texture. It came plated with a mixed leaf salad, drizzled with a simple vinaigrette. At seating I was given some house made bread that had a salty crust and was peppered with caraway, black sesame and poppy seeds.
The portions are moderately perfect. The service quietly nice. The atmosphere casual yet grown up, unfussy but particular.
I wish I lived in Fennville, such that I could eat at Journeyman regularly around abouts’d times through each week to fully savour the menu.
They have recently opened a public house next door called ‘Rye’, which is the menu from which I chose. On Friday nights they have live music. The space is great.
The baked goods are precious.
I could go on, myriad details, but can’t. I am poaching my Providence Farm chicken with fennel and it needs attention.