On a Friday in early May 2023, Neighbor Roy, friend Gus, aka Stephen, and I set off to dine at the Blue Willow. None of us had been there in years, certainly long before the latest pandemic. Besides, I had been hankering for pancakes lately and figured Blue Willow would be a good bet.
Roy and I had tried to go there a few months ago, but when we arrived at noon, the parking lot was full and a line wound out the front door. So we knew was had to go early. Additionally, I made a reservation for 11:30 to enhance our chances.
We arrived at exactly 11:30. There was only one space available and it was the handicapped parking spot right in front of the door. Lucky us. But when we got inside, I told the hostess my name and that I had a reservation. She looked puzzled, checked her list twice, and told me that she had no “Jim for a table of three”. But it didn’t matter as they had tables available. We were promptly seated despite the snafu.
Once seated, our waitress, who was quite attentive throughout our visit, took our drink orders. Roy of course ordered hot tea, Earl Grey ($3.00). Gus ordered water. And I ordered Iced Tea ($3.00).
When she returned with our drinks, she took our lunch orders. Gus ordered the Blue Willow Benedict ($13.00). Roy ordered the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and veggies ($16.50). I ordered a short stack of buttermilk pancakes ($15.00) and a side of crisp bacon ($5.00).
Roy can tell you about his experience.
“This week we decided to go to an old Tucson favorite restaurant. The Blue Willow has been around for almost as long as I have. Because it is usually jammed we decided to arrive early. Joining us this week is a neighbor and friend who will join us for lunch and will write his review.
It was a good sign when we were able to park next to the main entrance. We had a reservation but it was not found by the staff. Fortunately, the restaurant was moderately busy, not jam-packed as it usually is. Our waitress was prompt, providing the large menus, and taking our orders. In my case, I was given a choice and selected Earl Grey tea. Looking over the menus I noticed their meatloaf. I made the instant decision to try this dish. Fresh from our last week’s choice for lunch, I wanted to see which of the two restaurants had the better version of this old favorite of mine that would win my taste test. Lunch was served and their cook must have been listening to me, the meatloaf was a fairly large portion, the veggies were cooked to firm, and came with a large helping of mashed potatoes. It took only a few bites to settle this contest for the meatloaf special. And the winner is!!! Old Time Kafe–and by a mile. The portion at the Old Time Kafe was larger. Both had darned good mashed potatoes. Both cooked their veggies firm as I like, but the Old Time Kafe meatloaf was a larger portion, with home-style gravy which is really what I wanted. Perhaps the good folks at the Blue Willow could learn a thing or two from the cooks at Old Time Kafe. Based on the staffing, the meal and the service I would give Blue Willow 3-1/2 saguaros. Additionally, the tea they serve, is not Earl Grey, so do not pay extra for a simple out-of-a-box tea. Earl Grey has an oil in it, bergamot, to give it that special taste, and this tea. had no such taste.”
Gus added his two cents worth.
2616 N Campbell Ave, Tucson, AZ 85719
Sunday – Tuesday: 8-3
Wednesday – Saturday: 8-8