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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org