By Guest Blogger Patty Miller
When I was a student at
So you can imagine our dismay when my college roommates and I made a pilgrimage to ISU in late July only to learn that Aunt Maude’s was closed for remodeling. Where would we eat?
First we had to find the place, which is located in a re-creation of a Midwestern downtown about 10 blocks north of
Dark-red brick on the outside, it’s all dark wood, dim lighting, shutters and coziness on the inside. Just off the dining room is an order counter where you can carry out or eat in with minimal service. A long, narrow bar on the other side opens into an “alley,” an inviting space between two buildings to sip a well-mixed cocktail.
The Café touts its “local, in-season produce and homemade artisan breads and desserts.” The menu isn’t extensive, but offers a nice selection (featuring that local produce and artisan breads) of soups, starters, sandwiches, salads and entrees. Here’s where you notice the sibling resemblance between Maude’s and The Café – the food isn’t fancy or uber creative, but it’s well presented and delicious. And reasonably priced by
Our group started with one of the simple appetizers – bruschetta served on house-baked flatbread. For entrées, we ordered the stuffed green pepper with a seasoned-just-right filling and dotted with tangy feta cheese; chicken drizzled with a rich, complex mole sauce and served with wild rice; and butter-knife-tender beef tournedos with garlicky mashed potatoes.
Of course we had to sample the desserts. It was refreshing that the portions weren’t gargantuan – just enough to have a little sweet at the end of the meal. The fresh raspberry tart was tasty, the tropical fruit tort was light and refreshing, yet moist and flavorful, but neither was anything to write home about. Our fave ― the dark-chocolate crème brûlée ― was velvety smooth with a crackly crisp sugar top.
Would we go back? In fact, we did – the next day when we dropped in and ordered hearty sandwiches at the counter. While our service in the evening – both in the bar and the dining room – was attentive and pleasant, the order-counter service was surly, bordering on rude. From other reviews of The Café, this unfortunately seems to be a pattern.
But next time you’re heading down I-35, make a quick detour into
P.S. Aunt Maude’s is scheduled to reopen in the fall.