The Blue Moon Café in Shepherdstown was a gas station many years ago.
It sits on the corner of Princess and High streets in a charmingly cobbled-together cluster of rooms that only dimly reflects its previous life.
I met a couple of friends for lunch there recently to escape the cabin fever we had all been feeling.
Amazingly, I found a place to park right in front of the door. There are only three or four spaces, and at least one is designated as handicapped parking.
There were several doors that appeared to lead into the restaurant, but only the one right in front goes directly in.
The first room is the bar area. I headed to the left and the two additional rooms there.
The room on the right was a dining room with tables and chairs. To the left, with a step down, was the glass-surrounded room where my friends were.
The place had a definite college town, funky vibe, and the focus was on the food, not the décor.
The Blue Moon emphasizes natural and local foods in its surprisingly extensive menu. Items are marked on the menu as vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free, and there were many from which to choose. If you don’t fall into any of those nutritional categories, there are still a bunch of options.
The menu begins with appetizers including treats such as cucumber bruschetta: diced cucumbers, feta and fresh mozzarella cheese with sun-dried tomatoes, marinated in dill and walnut-infused olive oil, and served with pieces of balsamic-drizzled ciabatta.
Also offered are sesame noodles, which are chilled and tossed in ginger sesame peanut sauce. How about the yin and yang: black beans served with organic brown rice and tomato.
There are daily soup and quiche specials. The day we were there, the soups were chicken chili and a chickpea-kale.
The list of salads is long and varied. I was intrigued by the sweet pear and gorgonzola, which consisted of poached Anjou pears over greens topped with gorgonzola cheese, crushed pecans and red onion. It was served with the house-made honey, Dijon mustard and lemon dressing.
The Tuscan was made with lettuce, oven-roasted tomato, northern white beans marinated in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic and fresh basil. It came with cucumber bruschetta and warm flat bread.
Even the Greek salad came with a special twist — roasted potatoes mixed in with the feta, kalamata olives and pepperoncini.
My friend urged me to try the Blue Moo, which is lettuce topped with roast beef. I am not a huge fan of roast beef — either as a lunch meat or in a big hunk for Sunday dinner — but she raved about it, so I decided to try it.
You can order half a salad for a reduced price, so I thought I would do that and try a sandwich as well. The list of sandwiches is twice as long as the salads.
There is something for everyone.
Vegetarians might like the Apple-acian — baked Granny Smith apple, brie, red onion and Dijon mustard on ciabatta bread — while meat eaters might go for the meatloaf made from locally raised, grass-fed beef with bacon, cheddar cheese and caramelized onion with a zesty sauce served warmed on a kaiser roll.
Pork, turkey, black beans, crab cakes, beef and eggplant are all offered, served on rolls, wraps, ciabatta or baguettes. And they all sounded delicious.
Sandwiches are served with coleslaw, corn salad, hummus or tortilla chips.
I ended up getting Curt’s quesadilla, which I thought I might be able to share with my friends.
Although the place was very busy, we did not have to wait long for our food.
When it came, I was surprised to see that my half salad was huge. It was full of fresh greens and thinly sliced roast beef. The beef was very tender and not a bit stringy, so it cut easily.
Plump, oven-roasted tomatoes added great flavor — much better than the rock-hard winter tomatoes usually found in salads this time of year.
Crumbles of gorgonzola cheese were sprinkled throughout. It was all good, but what made it spectacular was the house-made garlic Parmesan dressing.
It didn’t look like much — kind of watery and thin — but it packed a powerful punch that was the just the right note to stand up to the strong beef and cheese flavors.
I ate every bite, and then turned to the quesadilla. I snacked on the tortilla chips and salsa, and managed to eat one wedge before I felt I couldn’t eat another bite.
The quesadilla was full of baby spinach and black beans, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. I liked the combination, and the leftovers were a great lunch the following day.
We lingered at the table with a cup of coffee, roasted right there in Shepherdstown. Blue Moon also has beer and wine, lots of teas and other beverages.
Every Wednesday is open-mic night.
I was so glad my friend recommended the Blue Moon Café and the Blue Moo salad.
I know I will dream about it, especially that fantastic dressing.
Anne Chovey is a pseudonym for a Herald-Mail writer who reviews restaurants anonymously to avoid special treatment.