Before the holidays my husband and I stayed for a week outside Julian at an RV park, and each morning I would drive a few miles to the library to write. One afternoon, instead of heading back for a yogurt and almonds for lunch I drove into town for something to more substantial to eat.
The fact is, I am not that impressed with Julian and its overpriced cafés, hordes of tourists, and famous apple pie. (I recently found out from a few locals that most of the apples are grown and picked in Washington.) But I do love the trees, hiking, and fresh air, so that’s why we were in Julian.
I bypassed the cutesy cafés on Main Street and drove up and down the few streets in town until I found the Julian Grill. It looked closed, but when I walked past the empty patio and opened the door I was greeted by a woman who told me to sit anywhere. I found a table in the sun-room and sat next to a couple of people.
As I looked the menu over, I listened to the server tell the other patrons that the original cottage restaurant was built in the 1920s, and then in the ’60s an artist bought it and it became an antique store and a deli. Now, retro tables and red velvet curtains hang throughout the multiple rooms and a little bar stands in the living room area, which didn’t look as if it had room for more than a few drinkers.
I ordered a glass of wine and linguine with mild Italian sausage, herbs, and onions and French bread. It took only about five minutes for the meal to arrive, which made me think it had been zapped in the microwave, but it didn’t taste like it. The bread was soft and chewy, and the pasta was cooked just right and came with a side cup of freshly grated Parmesan. The sausage was a little spicy, but I could taste hints of cumin and garlic. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered another glass of wine to wash it down.
I ate the meal slowly and started a conversation with the folks at the other table, making the working lunch a two-hour affair and one of the best I’ve had in ages.