We recently dined with another couple at White River Junction’s Tip Top Cafe. In fact, it was actually a Valentine’s dinner. We were prepared to eat whatever without any feelings of guilt or the specter of any New Year’s resolutions involving desserts or food of any kind. No limits. As we all know, it was a very cold night so I was slightly worried that one of my favorite Tip Top features, the contemporary glassed-in setting, would make it a very cold place to dine. It wasn’t. Eileen McGuckin, the restaurant’s owner, seated us at a corner table that was delightful- warm and comfortable. The restaurant is a direct reflection of her demeanor.
(I should digress here for a minute to explain that one of the husbands’ original plan involved tickets to 50 Shades of Grey, but fortunately the other husband recognized that would not have been a great idea. 50 shades of grey are what I recognize my current hair color to be- and chocolate desserts certainly provide more exciting possibilities at this point in my life. Notice no names are being used here!)
So, back to Tip Top. The menu was very diverse and included seafood, chicken, lamb, beef and vegetarian options- along with an array of salads and starters including their trademarks: Flash Grilled Caesar Salad and French Fries with Garlic Aioli. If you haven’t tried either of these menu treats, you should make it a priority! They are worth the drive to WRJ alone, I promise. The grilled caesar has a smoky taste, yet the lettuce remains crisp and moist and the addition of shaved parm with added black pepper (optional) is the perfect compliment to the fire-grilled flavor embedded in the salad. And, the french fries. Well, who can resist piping hot shoestring fries, sweetly salted (yes, both) with garlic aioli served heaping in a wire cone? Not me, and, apparently not the other three at my table. Gone in nano second.
Oddly enough, the main courses we chose were divided down gender lines. The women chose the Lamb Osso Bucco served over couscous with fresh cucumber and carrots. The guys dined on Hanger Steak served over creamy mashed potatoes (more potatoes, I know). We all enjoyed our meals and even allowed for sharing across gender lines. The lamb was tender and fell off the bone and the steak was cooked medium rare, just as they asked for it.
Then came dessert. My reason for living. The dessert chef was doubling as our waitress and she described the Valentine’s Day dessert sharing plate: three items and flourless chocolate cake was included on the list, so who could turn that down? The plate was meant for two and we had four of us so the other two desserts evaporated before I had much chance to taste. But, I didn’t care. It gave me more time with chocolate.
In summary, we enjoyed our meal and the experience at Tip Top. It was a perfect V-Day night out.
Make the drive. Order the fries.
(As an aside, check out this Valley News article about Eileen’s purchase of the Tip Top. She is a good fit!)