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Dessert would be worth the drive

Fatboy loves a small-town cafe where the mashed potatoes are real and you can end a meal with Twinkie cake.
Street Smart Fat Boy
Rooooaaad trip!

I loaded up the family and headed out for an enjoyable hour-long drive to Greene County to visit the friendly folks in Jefferson. Yes, we drove to Jefferson for lunch. Why? Because I was told that a woman by the name of Beth Shelley runs a wonderful little dining hall there by the name of the Uptown Cafe.

This trip turned out to be worth it's weight in gold. We arrived around 2 p.m. to find the crew had just finished serving lunch to dozens and dozens of hungry basketball fans in town for a kids' tourney. I was worried sick. What would be left for us in terms of food and patience? Maybe an early afternoon arrival wasn't a good call this time. Wrong!

We had a fantastic meal and were treated like royalty.

Youngest son John started the ball rolling with an order of a kid's hot dog and fries. He then proceeded to order a ravioli dinner. I'm a bit worried about a 5-year-old who orders two meals with every intention in the world of eating both.

John didn't touch the ravioli, but I did. They were plenty palatable. Wife Lori ordered the grilled chicken sandwich. It looked mighty good and turned out that looks weren't deceiving. The salad that came with it was cold and crisp and they had thrown in a whole baby carrot that Lori thought was pretty fun, as well as a tomato and some radish.

Ian tossed down a milkshake and a BLT. I'm not sure why anyone would order a BLT in the winter, with real tomatoes still months away, but that's what 13-year-olds are all about. Ian warmed up with an order of breaded mozzarella sticks that disappeared as if they were part of a David Copperfield routine, so I figured they must have been on the mark. He then added a very astute observation about his take on things so far, with a comment only a kid could come up with, he "likes a restaurant where the ketchup comes out of the bottle easy."

As for the Fatboy, I went with an old favorite. The menu called it Homemade Chicken Fried Steak. It was homemade and BIG, and very, very tasty, with mashed potatoes, country gravy, corn with little red pieces, and a roll. The mashed potatoes were the real deal. The wife seemed to think she would be happy with a whole plate full. Onion rings started my meal out, and these rings would hold their own with rings from anywhere.

The menu board boasted an all-you-can-eat fish dinner every Friday. I was sorry I missed out because all-you-can-eat is one of the Fatboy's favorite phrases.

Did I mention dessert? The Uptown has an impressive list of pies: apple, cherry, chocolate, pecan and a few others I can't remember. The chocolate pie was really, really good. What a fun choice that was, piled high with white, fluffy cream.

There was talk of something they called Twinkie cake that Beth's mom made. Let's stop right here for a minute, folks. This was worth the drive if we had been served dog biscuits earlier. In fact, I expect to travel back for a dessert run sometime soon -they were that good.

In fact, I'll probably be back again for just about everything else on the menu we weren't able to eat this time around. The tenderloins got high marks from the crew, too. Homemade, breaded regular, breaded jumbo and grilled tenderloin were all tempting, but even the Fatboy has his limits. Chicken fried steak dinner, ravioli dinner, onion rings, shake, Twinkie cake and chocolate pie were all I could handle this time out.

Next time you're thinking about eating the same old song and dance -don't! Jump into the car and head for the Uptown Cafe located at 108 West State St. You don't really need the address for any of these small town restaurants. Just head to town, find the square and circle it. You'll usually find what you're looking for or you'll find someone who can point you in the right direction.

Lake mixup

This just in, the Fatboy was delirious in my last column when I was rambling on about restaurants out in the state. I made mention of the Grill up in Storm Lake, when I should have said Spirit Lake. Got my lakes mixed up and will take my whipping like a man. The Grill is in Spirit Lake, and they serve one heckuva good breakfast. Check them out the next time you venture up to the lakes area.

The Fatboy can be reached at

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