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January 2004: Four & Twenty Blackbirds

Since 1990, diners have enjoyed some of the best cooking in the region at this former general store.

Blue Ribbon Award Winner

Since 1990, diners have enjoyed some of the best cooking in the region at this former general store. There are hints of the house's former life—antiques, floral wallpaper, and Jeff MacNelly drawings. The dining takes place in two living-room-size areas, one on ground level, the other a level below. Service is leisurely and friendly. Much of the food, grown locally, is transformed by chef Heidi Morf into Modern American fare that doesn't strive for cutting-edge sophistication but maintains a high level of comfort.

Morf keeps her menu short but changes it frequently to keep up with seasonal specialties. At a mid-November dinner for two, good appetizers were lightly battered and deep-fried oysters between disks of puff-pastry with a red-pepper aïoli and toasted slices of Italian bread, and a caramelized-onion-and-smoked-cheddar tart with a savory pecan crust and baby arugula with a warm salad dressing. Main courses were a whole (but headless) grilled loup de mer with shiitake mushroom relish and crispy roasted caramelized onions and mashed potatoes, and beef tenderloin grilled with apple-smoked bacon served in a sage-black-pepper pastry with red-wine sauce and Iowa bleu-cheese mashed potatoes. The salad course was fine, and desserts were a pecan-almond toffee tart with house-made caramel ice cream, and a chocolate-spice cake with chocolate-fudge frosting and chocolate-fudge sauce. The wine list, while fairly priced, could be use some older reds.

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