The Winds Café: A Meal and an Experience
Even though the Winds Café is one of my favorite places to eat, the Yellow Springs restaurant never fails to surprise me. That’s partly because the menu changes with the seasons, emphasizing ingredients that are fresh, at the pinnacle of flavor, and locally procured. That’s partly because the wine list is international and so thoughtfully curated that the selections, which often come from family wineries, consistently complement the food. And, that’s partly because the Winds, like the famously eclectic and progressive village where it’s located, defies convention.
Since the restaurant sits along much-traveled U.S. 68 in the heart of Yellow Spring, you’d expect the Winds to have a huge sign and front doors opening directly to the street. Instead, its understated, maroon-colored façade has only simple white letters stating “Winds Café."
The actual entrance is a bright blue door tucked on the side of the restaurant and because you need to follow a brick footpath to reach it, arriving at the Winds feels like finding a best-kept secret.
That pathway actually leads to two discoveries, for it’s also flanked by the Winds Wine Cellar, a homey-looking purple building stocked with excellent wines and craft beers that include those served next door at the cafe.
The Wine Cellar’s employees are knowledgeable and happy to answer questions, and I appreciate the shop’s convenient and well-ordered displays, particularly the rack of wines that’s arranged top-to-bottom a la France’s north-to-south terroir.
The Wine Cellar offers another bonus: it also sells beautiful loaves of bread and pastries made at the Winds Café.
Although the locavore movement is trendy today, using locally grown ingredients was a new concept in the late 1970s, when restauranteurs Mary Kay Smith and Kim Korkan started operating the Winds. Year after year, their remarkable ability to create a wide variety of internationally inspired dishes–think Moroccan meatballs, cassoulet, roasted root vegetables with bagna caud–from the bounty of regional farms has been the secret to the little restaurant’s enormous success.
At the Winds, I especially love that I’m getting a wholesome taste of Ohio whether I’m enjoying the cafe’s Welsh Rarebit Omelette (made with local organic eggs) at brunch; Chicken Pot Pie (featuring free-range chickens raised nearby) at lunch; Yellow Springs Beer Cheese (containing sharp cheddar from a neighboring dairy farm) at the bar; or Pork Shank Redemption (braised in apple pie moonshine made by an artisan distillery) at dinner.
(Tip: Because of the Winds’ popularity, making a reservation is always wise. If you do have to wait for a table, hang out at its bar or explore the indie shops and artisan destinations clustered in downtown Yellow Springs.)