Wildflour Restaurant & Bakery
At Wildflour on Fourth Street, the emphasis is on fresh, whole ingredients prepared and served simply; be sure to save room for dessert!
You had a terrible day. You locked your keys in your car, and realized your umbrella was inside it just as the downpour started. The dog bit, the bee stung, and you’re starting to suspect that your career path was ill-advised. What you could really use to turn this around is some comfort food. Hearty, delicious and completely non-redeeming in any nutritional sense.
Take heart, o seeker of guilt-free belly-solace! Wildflour Restaurant & Bakery on Fourth Street in Roanoke’s Old Southwest neighborhood has heard your anguished cry! A classic small-town edifice completely fronted in windows, this cafe serves as a touchstone for many Old Southwest denizens, and beckons to the rest of the valley with a broad array of delicious food that will soothe your soul with flavor and ease your conscience with fresh whole foods.
On a recent Thursday evening (don’t ask about the day that preceded it), we stumbled in and found a table, and the smells of hearty baked things (Wildflour! Get it?) blended with the sights of happy diners gathered amid the work of local artists in the best decorated Quonset hut in town to foreshadow some good things to come. Our witty and hard-working waitress Shannon lost no time in fortifying us with some life-bringing selections from the wine and beer list (a chardonnay for her, a la Fin du Monde golden ale for me, best thing to come out of Canada since John Candy, for my money). She had our appetizers cooking practically before we had ordered them.
The fresh mozzarella on toasted sourdough, garnished with scallions and roasted red peppers, was a fine example of their devotion to garden-fresh, whole ingredients, prepared and served simply. Meanwhile, a cup of white-bean chicken chili preserved the textures and flavors of celery, onions and beans that can be lost when soups are overcooked.
The menu boasts an entire page of vegetarian meals. Southwestern dishes, a souped-up macaroni-and-cheese, and the California grilled cheese (a personal favorite, stuffed with sauteed mushrooms, green peppers and onions and jazzed up with bleu cheese dressing) combine to make a mockery out of any charge that eating vegetarian means depriving yourself of great, hearty food. Every ingredient really shone through in my wife’s spinach ricotta pie, right down to the wonderful flaky crust. Ask Shannon for the recipe.
My own pork caprese was sliced thin and seared with tomatoes, mozzarella, herbs and a balsamic reduction that brought out the flavor of the pork very nicely. This came served with firm broccoli, but the mashed potatoes were a real stand-out. Too often restaurants seem to really struggle with how to cram more flavor into the humble spud, crippling it with bacon, cheese, chives, garlic, etc. These tasted like potatoes, again showcasing Wildflour’s theme of appreciating fresh food on its own merits.
But let’s cut to the chase. After the kind of day we’ve all had, we didn’t come to a place with Bakery in the name for the pre-dessert action. Fasten your seat belt. Wildflour serves a staggering array of cookies, shortbread, eclairs, cakes (served by the slice or whole), bars and shortbread (what, no pie?). My own eyes were drawn to the Better than Sex cake. Dense and rich chocolate cake, drizzled with ganache and caramel, and riddled with chocolate chips, nuts and God knows what else… You’ll tell your spouse that the name’s not true. But that night, you’ll lie awake thinking about it.
Wildflour Restaurant & Bakery 1212 Fourth Street SW, 540-343-4543