We’ve endured three weeks spent getting the household ready for festivities, requiring innumerable buying trips to The Mall (yes, Johnson City still has an operational Mall, thank goodness) and elsewhere, braving waves of like-minded holiday shoppers awash in a din of Muzak-style carols and raw retail shopping noise.
Then there’s our kitchen duty, creating all the edible goodies that make up the season’s special cornucopia of smells and tastes. Yes, you guessed it, more shopping trips here as well. Not surprisingly, all this holiday cheer overload can give rise to very un-holiday thoughts, such as unwrapping that Red Ryder BB gun a few days early “just to see if it works OK.”
The alternative is to do what my dining partner and I did: high-tail it to Gourmet & Company, settle into one of their cozy dining room chairs amid a background of soothing, understated holiday music and have a capable server named Suzanna bring you something delicious and satisfying to calm the inner you.
Gourmet & Company has been a north Johnson City fixture for — can it really be 28 years? Restaurateur Von Bailey has been hard at work making sure that the restaurant’s popularity remains undiminished. The décor is refined but understated, and the service is top-notch. The food is locally sourced, of impeccable provenance and artisan quality and plated correctly to provide a feast for the eyes as well as the palate.
Take our recent lunch break. After ordering some of Gourmet & Company’s field pea hummus ($8) for openers, my dining partner announced that she wanted something substantial and “really yummy” for her lunch’s main course. Unfazed, our server Suzanna suggested one of Gourmet & Company’s Reuben sandwiches ($14) sided with some of their special house-cut fries and got a nod of approval in return. I wanted some lighter fare for my digestion to work on, and ordered the quiche of the day ($12) with a side order of a small mixed green salad and two poppy seed mini muffins.
Moments later, Suzanna had our hummus appetizer in front of us. For you purists out there who say that hummus is made correctly with chickpeas or not at all, I say try Gourmet & Company’s made from mashed local field peas in Georgia-sourced olive oil that has been garlic-infused and mixed with the house’s proprietary spice blend. Try daubing some of this heavenly mixture on some warm pita bread (my dining partner’s favorite) or a blue corn tortilla chip (mine). What your palate experiences is a smoky, pungent blend of flavors accented with a surprising but pleasant residual heat as a finishing note. Whether using pita or tortilla chip, you’ll be going back for more.
My quiche of the day turned out to be Gourmet & Company’s version of a quiche Lorraine. What was set in front of me lacked the usual pastry pie shell, and from its six-inch height it resembled a soufflé more than a quiche. However, the result was light as air, and dotted with roasted red peppers, some chopped bits of Benton’s incomparable bacon, some mild red onions, and a nicely nutty Swiss cheese that had to be Emmentaler. The mixed green salad made a nice accompaniment to the meal, especially when topped with the house peppercorn ranch salad dressing. The scratch-made poppy seed mini muffins provided a sweet note that was much-appreciated.
Meanwhile, my dining partner was settling in with her Reuben sandwich and house-cut fries. Gourmet & Company corns their own beef brisket and “sauer-s” their own kraut at the restaurant for this sandwich. Since my dining partner has issues with rye bread, a very nice and nutty loaf of honey wheat was pressed into service along with some Swiss cheese, the house’s delightful “Comeback” sauce substituting for the usual Thousand Island dressing. The result of this effort is a Reuben sandwich that I have only found the equal to in Chicago, a Reuben sandwich New York deli-owners can only dream about. All the flavors and textures were absolutely spot-on.
With the velvet holiday vocals of Karen Carpenter crooning in the background, my dining partner and I basked in the afterglow of meals well-consumed and relaxation enjoyed. Gourmet & Company can be your own quiet oasis from the holiday hullabaloo or any other kind of hullabaloo you get into. Bailey has created a unique venue, a service and a cuisine lineup that gets a “Recommended” from the Mystery Diner. See if you don’t agree.
Gourmet & Company
214 E. Mountcastle Drive
Mon 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Tue-Thu 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. 5 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Fri – Sat 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Available on Facebook & soclal media
Credit cards accepted