Unfortunately, I have to take full responsibility for dragging everyone to the Yellow Brick Bank. I got it in my head years ago, after hearing some hype, that I really needed to dine here. I talked about it practically all the way across I-68. I made Terry wait until Race #6 to place his exacta box bet.
The expectations I had built were not met.
In fact, I learned the next week that a friend had nicknamed this place the Yellow Brick Bust. If only we had spoken in time to send me down a different path…
Shepherdstown is a cute little downtown with shops and eateries lining the main drag. The Yellow Brick Bank stands guard on a corner, the former home to an actual banking institution. It’s a great atmosphere. In fact, the bank’s vault has become a wine “cellar”.
Under the direction of Executive Chef Jeff McGee, the restaurant serves up “New American Cusine” featuring fresh vegetables picked from local farms and beef from Stone Crest Farms, according to their website.
Our server was polite, prompt and friendly. We can be a difficult group with all of our questions and our enigmatic picture-taking. She took it all in stride.
In lieu of an appetizer, I ordered a bottle of Elderton Shiraz, priced at $33, in an effort to combine my love of red wine with a flavor Misty would find appealing. Unfortunately for Misty, Smirnoff Grape wine coolers were not an option.
I settled on the duck breast with sour cherry sauce and goat cheese, a very recent addition to the menu, for $28. The dish includes winter vegetable risotto, and spinach. I don’t know much about duck but was curious to learn more.
Upon return to my trusty laptop, I did a little Internet research and learned some interesting things about duck.
First, I wondered if it was considered white meat or dark meat. It is a duck breast, so wouldn’t it be white meat? But my food appeared dark in color. I learned that duck and goose are indeed considered “white” meat. But because they are birds of flight, however, the breast meat is darker than what you see with chicken or turkey breast. More oxygen is needed by muscles doing work, and the oxygen is delivered by red blood cells and held in those muscles by the protein myoglobin which gives the meat a darker color.
I also learned that I likely consumed White Pekin duck, which accounts for about 95% of the duck consumed in the United States. It has a mild flavor and is generally raised to about seven weeks of age for optimal tenderness and leanness. Also interesting to note: a 3.5 ounce skinless portion of White Pekin duck has only 140 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. (Skinless being the optimal factor.)
The duck I received was dark in color with a ~1/8″ fatty outer layer just below the skin. The meat was tender but was a bit fattier than I expected. I thought all the fat would be with the skin. The cherry sauce swimming around the slices of breast was yummy and I slid various bites through it until it was all gone.
The skin was not crispy and that was a disppointment to me. During internet research I ran across some cooking tips from Burt Culver, CEO of Culver Duck Farms. Mr. Culver asserts the secret to cooking duck to perfection is to cook the breast slowly on its skin so that the fat has a chance to render out of the skin. Once the skin has lost much of its fat, it will then become crispy.
Needless to say, this was not the duck of my dreams.
Accompanying the poultry was a serving of cooked spinach. wtf? There’s got to be a better veggie than that. It wasn’t even the decadent creamed spinach with parmesan cheese. Nope. Just plain ol’ spinach. I ate a few bites because I feel dinner is not complete without a green vegetable. (And no, father dear-potatoes and corn don’t count as real vegetables in my book.)
Also on my plate, besides a confusing and seemingly unrelated garnish of a few corn kernels and a green leafy something, was a spoonful of watery, flavorless risotto. It wasn’t even warm.
I was even less impressed with Ron’s lamb. It was overwhelmingly gamey and tough. Compared to the Elysian Farms lamb served to us at south hills market & cafe, the lamb at Yellow Brick Bank falls far short.
All that adds up to an overpriced, overhyped meal resulting in disappointment.
Ron Says ~
“We’re off to see the wizard….”
Ok that was gay.. but what else was I going to do with “Yellow Brick Bank” ?
I was here in the Eastern Panhandle with Susan while she attended a conference. Today (11.60.08) Susan & Misty ~ yes two fifths of the five wanted to go to this joint in Shepherdstown. I didn’t care, as typical on these out of town trips, Susan begs me to go with her, and I typically agree once she understands that she’s sponsoring my drinking eating habits. This eve was no different.
I barely made it back in time from a bike ride to meet them at 5:30, barely having time to shower, shave and that other all important “S”. (Did manage to drink a few post ride pilsners).
This was my first visit to Shepherdstown, a very neat little town from what I could tell, possibly should come back sometime in the future. I’m sure you can wiki it to find all the information you wish, but I can’t really tell you much about it, as it was dark and well that’s about it. Susan had her heart set on eating at the Yellow Brick Bank. We arrive at this building which is an old bank… how yellow it is I don’t know as it was dark, but there wasn’t much yellow inside.
The inside was clean and well kept, we were promptly seated, and Susan ordered a bottle of wine and me a beer from a regional brewery, a Mountain State IPA for $5. After viewing the menu, I decided that this is going to be just an average experience at best. Funny how you can tell that by just viewing the menu, I’m sure you’ve had similiar experiences. Just the combination of the menu and the interior just seemed all bark and no bite (or insert your favorite phrase), no way the place was going to live up to the expectation that I had generated from listening to Susan talk.
I ordered the Lamb, $27, came with a shit-take-E’ mushroom sauce, potato cakes, and spinach, with two boneless lamb chops (probably 6oz – 8oz total, I’m not sure). I hate spinach, and today did not make me want it any more so. But I’ll start with the good..
The service – the service was friendly and although not fast, it wasn’t slow either, so I can’t complain.
The Potato Cakes ~ I liked these, although they reminded me of hash browns, and I think I could duplicate them with a bag a frozen hash browns, just mashed together till the jell, and flip them. I honestly don’t think there was much more to it than that, but I’m no cook.
Lamb – not a normal item for me, but I had devoured beef the night before, and will probably do so before the weekend ends, so I chose the lamb. My last lamb experience was pretty good, and for a similiar price why would this one be any different? Well the lamb tasted good , I order it raw, and this was grisley. Made for some complaints, I’m sure Susan will write more about it as she didn’t like the gamyness, but that didn’t bother me. But because of the grisle, well I can’t say it’s the best I ever had.
Mushrooms ~ I like mushrooms, but they can overpower a dish very easily, plus they cool down fast, and I don’t like them cold. These were good, and mixed well with the lamb. But they got cold, and I think they should have been spread over my lamb instead of treated like a side order. But no complaints.
Spinach – I do not like cooked spinach. I do not like the way it tastes, people say add vinegar to it, I have it still sucks. I do not even like the way it looks after it’s cooked. Popeye can kiss my ass. This had no vinegar, and looked like green cow crap on my plate (again that’s what it looks like to me). Note to would be cooks – cooked spinach will not make your plates look pretty. I tasted a few bites, and that’s about all I could stand. It could have been the best spinach in the world, but I don’t like it.
I give the Yellow Brick Bank two stars. I can see where someone would rank it higher and possibly a three. But me, I have no desire to come back here. The food was good, it appeared they actually put some thought into their combinations. I tasted Susans duck and I liked it. But, well it was just missing something that would make me want to eat here again. So because I have no desire to eat here again, I’m giving it a two, (otherwise, I’d give it a three).
I was really hungry. While I was waiting on the food (and on Susan to get back to the table- she was off on her investigative reporting and taking pictures of the place!), I did eat a piece or two of bread that they brought to the table. The bread was nothing spectacular, but it was ok and gave me something to nibble on.
Our food arrived, and the crab cakes were very large and nestled on top of the risotto. They contained large lumps of crab meat, very little breading (seemed like just enough to hold the crab meat together), and did not taste fishy. All good qualities in a crab cake for me. They were very tasty and very hot! There was a sauce with the crab cakes. Of course, I can’t remember what kind it was and I will probably be reprimanded by “the others”…but I did like it.
The asparagus was grilled. It was cooked to my liking- still a little crunchy on the inside with a little carmelization. And they were tender all the way to the bottom of the stem and did not have that woody, stringy texture. But, they were nothing that I haven’t duplicated at home.
The risotto was room temperature. Which tasted cold compared to the steamy, hotness of the crab cake. I wasn’t sure if this was on purpose or not…but I didn’t like it. And it didn’t help that the risotto was tasteless, too. (In reference to the above, maybe they should have called it winter tasteless risotto).
I was pretty full when the waitress brought the dessert menu out, but I thought I would at least take a look at it. I was waffling on trying the brownie with ice cream and hot fudge for $6.50. It was really the only thing that struck my fancy. Then, Terry decided to get something and I couldn’t let him be the only one who got dessert, so I caved.
Again, I figured I would get some ridicule when I picked a brownie with ice cream (I know…I can get this anywhere, even at a chain.) But I thought this one might be something special and a brownie with ice cream is good anywhere. WRONG! There was nothing special or good about this dessert. I was expecting a warm brownie with cold ice cream that has started to melt a little with hot fudge on top. Then it gets all ooey and gooey. The brownie, which contained nuts, was kinda cold. It just ruined the whole thing for me.
Well, in all, the Yellow Brick was a bit of a disappointment for me. I had high expectations for this place…and they were not met. I will say the service was good and so were the crab cakes- everything was acceptable…just a little pricey for what you get. I give them 2 FORKS.
The Yellow Brick Bank serves lunch and dinner seven days a week.Yellow Brick Bank 201 East German Street Shepherdstown, WV 25443 304-876-2208