Open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 8:30 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 8:30 p.m. Parking in restaurant lot. Major credit cards accepted. Reservations advised. Men must wear jackets. Difficult for the handicapped because of several steps in the house and a half flight of stairs down to dining rooms. Bushboys are available to help patrons in wheelchairs down the stairs.
Three times we tried and three times we failed to get a reservation at Mrs. K's Toll House. Finally, we called on a Friday for Sunday dinner and were rewarded for our advance planning: We couldn't get a reservation at the time of our choice - 6:30 - but we could have either 5:45 or 7:30 and opted for an early dinner. We skipped lunch to make sure we were hungry.
The restaurants is in a lovely old home with beautiful, large gardens. We were glad we arrived early enough to see the expanses of lawn and the bright flowers in bloom. Inside, here is a series of rooms filled with antiques, followed by several dining rooms. On the way to our table we passed through two dimly lit, gracious dining rooms with dark wood floors, antique plates and beautifully set tables. We were seated in a brighter room that appeared to be an enclosed porch.The ceiling was covered with a huge striped canopy. Several other huge striped canopy. Several other families with small children were already there.
The menu was deceptively simple. Only entrees were listed but a line at the bottom noted that entree prices include a full dinner. There was also a children's menu offering a three-vegetable plate for $1.50 weekdays, $2.00 Sunday for children under three and half-price on adult entrees for children three through 10 years old. Not all entrees, the menu noted, were available in children's portions.
Our daughter, 11, felt she could manage with a child-sized portion, our son, 9. was harder to convince, especially when he asked for duck and duck was one of the entrees that could not besplit for children. In the true spirit of good ole mom, I ordered duck at $7.50 for him and he ordered a child's portion of lamb at $3.95 (the adult price is $7.95) for me, with the understanding the I could taste freely of the duck. My husband ordered calves liver and bacon for $6.85, and my daughter chose fried chicken at $3.25 for children.
Once our waitress took our main course order, she reeled off a slew of other choices for us to make: One of five appetizers and two of six vegetables. I started with oyster cocktail which was off the half the half shell and small but just right to start a meal. My husband and daughter had mulligatawhey soup, which was served in a small bowl - but good things came in the little package. The soup was well spiced and full of delicious vegetables. Our son had fruit cocktail, which was a bland concoction of grapefruit sections and some other fruits.
As we finished our appetizers, the waitress placed a lazy susan salad bowl in the center of the table. The center of the dish had a bowl filled with salad dressing while circling the bowl were mounds of lettuce, raw spinach, shredded carrots. Tomato quarters and sliced red onions decorated the platter. The salad was as fresh and crisp as we could ever want, and the dressing was memorable. We were filling up fast, but there was more to come.
The vegetables we chose to go with our dinners were French fries, squash, spinach with mushrooms and green beans. I found the squash and spinach outstanding, the rest of the vegetables ordinary. The calves liver got an A rating from my husband, the duck a B from my son (and me), the leg of lamb a B-from me and the fried chicken an A-from my daughter. Freshly baked bread, a tiny cup of lemon sherbet and cherry preserves, cranberry sauce and corn relish accompanied our entrees.
It's a good thing we skipped lunch because dessert plus coffee, tea or milk was included with our dinner. We ordered bread pudding, cherry cobbler, apple pie and pumpkin pie and liked them all. The cherry cobbler was remarkable because it was filled with fresh sour cherries - there was even a piece of stem in it - instead of canned cherry pie filling.
We thought our dinner was as good as any we've had this year. Everything tasted homemade, even the cherry preserves.Although there were several curses, the portions were small to moderate, which we considered a blessing. One thing we didn't like was a note on the menu asking that children not leave the table unless accompanied by an adult. Other than that we felt we got a very good value for our money: A homey, comfortable atmosphere, good food and lots of it at a reasonable price. The bill came to $23.25 for four full dinners and two glasses of wine.