Tuesday, September 24, 2013

It’s Raining. It’s Dreary.

We are stuck inside. And that is the only rationale I have for watching a half-hour info-mercial hawking the Time-Life “Golden Age of Country” box set. I ask you, when was the last time you heard the name Ferlin Husky? Or the name Porter Wagoner? And can you hear “Stand by Your Man” without thinking of Jake and Elwood in The Blues Brothers?

But this is taking me away from the topic at hand—the Old City Hall Restaurant in Gilroy, CA, that is located in, of all places, the Old City Hall.

The cornerstone for this building that sits in the heart of downtown Gilroy was laid in 1905, and the building was completed in 1906. The building has survived two major earthquakes and has been described as the landmark that says “You’re in Gilroy!”

“The Gilroy Historical Society was formed in 1966 when the Old City Hall (1905) was threatened with destruction…” (gilroyhistoricalsociety.snappages.com). Nine years later, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
What was once the main entrance (entrance to the restaurant is now through a door at street level) is graced by a statue of John Cameron Gilroy.
His is an interesting story: “During the War of 1812, the armed merchantman Isaac Todd was sent…to seize Fort Astoria, an American trading post at the mouth of the Columbia River. The ship departed from Portsmouth, England, made its way around Cape Horn and proceeded up the Pacific coast of the Americas, stopping at Spanish ports for supplies along the way. In January 1814, the Todd arrived at the Presidio of Monterey. During the visit, ordinary seaman John Gilroy (a Scotsman who had changed his name from John Cameron when he went to sea to avoid recognition) either jumped ship or, depending on the historical source, was left ashore to recover from scurvy. In any event he found his way to San Ysidro, converted to Roman Catholicism and became the first non-Spanish settler in Alta California legally recognized by the Spanish crown…” (wikipedia.org).

"...He married Maria Clara de La Ascencion Ortega, daughter of the family that owned Rancho San Ysidro and together they had 17 children. Inheriting a third of Rancho San Ysidro through his wife, Gilroy became a prominent landowner who served for many ears as the local Alcalde (mayor) and later justice of the peace. John Gilroy exemplified the early California tradition of hospitality that sheltered travelers, welcomed guests and celebrated life" (waymarking.com).

The interior space of the restaurant is divided into a dining room (below)
and a bar area (below).
Outside is a dining patio where on Sunday the restaurant will be holding a beer ‘n brats fest with live music.

While listing on the National Register guarantees that the exterior of a building will remain intact, no such promises are made about the interior. I suspect that the “Moorish” arch over the door leading into the main dining area

and the frame around this alcove are remnants of the Hall’s prior use as a tapas restaurant.
The lunch menu consists mostly of salads, sandwiches, and wraps. From those, Chuck chose the Cuban sandwich (roasted pork, smoked ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, and dill pickles) with a side of fries.
At first he went to remove the dill pickles, but realized that these are an integral part of the Cuban’s flavor profile and so the pickles remained.

While the sandwich had been pressed, in my opinion it should have spent longer in the press. Usually, a Cuban is pressed almost flat. The French roll was not as toasty and crisp as it should have been, and the meats were not as hot as they should have been. And the fries were so dry that they must have been kept hot under a heat lamp.
Perhaps I was influenced by the garlic garlands hanging on the back wall because I ordered the Roasted Garlic Burger with the pasta salad as my side.
The burger itself was beautifully cooked and had that great charred taste that we always look for. And the buttered and toasted bun was a great touch. In addition to the garlic, the burger was topped with roasted red peppers and a most generous amount of salty and tangy blue cheese. But where was the garlic taste? Almost nonexistent. I know that roasting garlic reduces its pungency, but I could barely taste any.

At first I thought that the dressing on my pasta (actually elbow macs) salad was pesto, but it seemed to be a herb dressing instead. The salad contained some finely chopped celery and onion and was really quite good.

Overall, our lunch at Old City Hall was good. Not great. Good. And earns 3.5 Addies.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

1 comment:

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