Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 4
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whoopemup Café serves up Southern-inspired cuisine in small-town setting

The Whoopemup Hollow Café in Waitsburg serves as a Southern treasure in Walla Walla County. It has been featured in Sunset magazine and has gained a reputation among Whitman students as the perfect place for a Friday evening during Parent’s Weekend. Along with my parents, my sister and a few friends, I relished what may be the region’s finest restaurant.

We arrived, a few minutes late to our 6 p.m. reservation and were seated at a table covered with colorful checkered tablecloths. The restaurant consisted of a long room with seven or so booths and a small bar. What I imagine was a Southern ambiance was in the air.Coca Cola cake, with its three chocolate towers and chocolate lettering, tops off any one of the rich entrees offered at Waitsburg

The course began with a selection of cornbread. Some were shaped like little corns, some simply as muffins and some were formed into triangles or squares. This variation paled in comparison to the variation in flavor. Chives, jalapeño, butter, oregano and a cheese grit-like substance were all present.

The soup was a beef broche, which had a light flavor. The broche contained diced tomatoes, which added a fresh flavor and complemented the cornbread without weighing down the stomach.

While eating my soup I noticed the contour of my spoon varied from that of Western soupspoons: the spoon was long and contoured more softly, making it much easier to finish off the last bits of broche in the small bowl. “I enjoyed the underlying spicy flavor,” said my mom, Rosemary Otto. “It kept the broche alive.”

The restaurant provided limited vegetarian options; however, that did not hamper the delight of the three vegetarians present. The highlight of the evening was the macaroni and cheese. Created from a combination of four cheeses and the key ingredients of pesto and garlic, the macaroni and cheese was heavy on cheese flavor, not on bulk.

Dana Bialek enjoyed her goat cheese ravioli with red pepper cream sauce.

“The waitress told me I’d be scrapping the cream sauce off my plate and indeed I was,” said Bialek. Again, the cheese, with its strong flavor that disappeared into a tangy aftertaste, made the dish. Due to the importance of cheese in the available vegetarian options, vegan customers might find their choices even more limited.

This reliance on cheese did not exist for the meat options. True to its Southern roots, Whoopemup’s meat is full of flavor characteristic of slow roasting or frying. I ordered the special, butternut chicken dumplings. The soft flavor of the butternut squash complemented the homey texture of the dumplings, but the slow cooked chicken stew surrounding them paled in comparison to the dishes of other diners.

The catfish, famous through Walla Walla County, was the strongest meat option sampled. The crunchy batter and the moist catfish brought back memories of fishing in the swimming hole on lazy Sunday afternoons. Wait, I’m not from Alabama; I grew up in Spokane, and if I ate the fish I’d die of mercury poisoning.

Beyond the food, Whoopemup provides an experience to its diners. “The presentation here is excellent,” said Naomi Gibbs, who hails from San Francisco, Calif. “Everything’s beautiful. It’s hard to believe we’re in a place as small as Waitsburg.” Dishes were served in small frying pans or arranged seductively on plates. None so much as the “Aunt Luella’s Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake.” Three chocolate towers, underlined with chocolate lettering, beckoned me.

The dessert menu also contained a seasonal selection of fruit sorbet garnished with star fruit, red velvet cake and a tangy, sharp apple tart. The highlight was the “Beyond Banana Split,” which consisted of banana bread pudding with vanilla ice cream, which my mother described as “very homemade,” and a dense chocolate-banana terrine.

The restaurant deserved it reputation, providing a perfect refuge from the dining halls and cafés of campus. “This is really good,” said Gibbs. “For a while there I forgot I was a college student.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *