I know, I know, I’ve already review Lincoln Cafe a couple of times but each time it has been a different meal and also my wife and I will not be having any romantic evenings out at nice restaurants anytime soon because Baron Baby #2 has arrived.
Throwing ideas around for lunch today and in Mount Vernon, we are pretty limited unless we wanted to travel to CR or IC; which we occasionally do. Today however, we wanted to stay close and get some take out food which usually limits us to Hardees, Casey’s Pizza, Subway (I despise Subway and think it is evil), or a local bar. We often forget we have a gem of a restaurant in town that is Lincoln Cafe.
Today I ordered their special: Homemade bratwurst with their house made mustard and homemade potato salad. All of this was great. The brats were not too greasy and had the right amount of fat to give you the juicy wonderfulness that brats give you. The potato salad was very good and refreshing. Their soup special was a watermelon gazpacho. I’ve never ordered a gazpacho before just because cold soup really doesn’t appeal to me. This soup today will always make me rethink my choices. This soups was great! The best way to put it is a cold watermelon broth, with cucumbers, onions, spices, and herbs. Amazing! Refreshing, light, and the perfect thing (besides beer) to cool you off on a hot, muggy Iowa summer day. If you ever get to Mount Vernon, and you love food, make sure to check out Lincoln Cafe. (www.foodisimportant.com)
This past Friday night my wife and I had the pleasure of going out to eat with my parents and my sister and her husband. We had been talking up Reds’ Alehouse for a long time and since they live in Indiana, they had yet to try it. When we got there I noticed they didn’t have Bells Two Hearted Ale on tap, which is my go to beer. Usually when a place doesn’t have your go to, you are disappointed, but at a place like Reds where the kegs are ever-changing, it’s kind of nice because you get to try something new. Here’s the first beer I had:
**Rogue Ales Chatoe Rogue OREgasmic Ale**
An American pale ale and you know if Rogue makes it, it will be pretty good. The best part of this whole thing is that at Reds from 3-6 EVERYDAY it is happy hour! Two for ones baby!! A nice smooth pale ale that has the spicy fruit aroma and smell. Excellent beer for a summer day!
My dad decided to go with Rogue also, but he went a different direction with the style.
**Rogue Dad’s Little Helper Black IPA**
A somewhat new trend is taking the wonderfully bitterness and citrus flavor of IPAs and adding the nice roasted flavor of stouts, porters, and black lagers. When you drink this beer you get the hop flavor and bitterness right away and it finishes with the nice roasted maltiness.
We threw in a couple of standards (Moose Drool Brown Ale) and then we decided to try the flight. A flight of beers is something a bar/brewery puts together to let you try the different styles without having to order a pint of beer. We get smaller amounts to try. Reds’ flight on that Friday consisted of these four beers:
*Dieu De Ciel Peche Mortel which is an imperial stout that www.ratebeer.com gave 100/100. Its ABV is 9.5%
*Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast which is a stout with 7.5% ABV.
*Mikkeller USalive Belgian Wild Ale which has the hoppy aroma mixed with nice maltiness. Its ABV is 9.4%
*Mikkeller Big Worst which is an American Barley wine and its ABV is…….ready for this??……………18.5%
I’m not going to lie to you, the Big Worst scared the shit out of me, but since I was sharing it was worth trying. This flight of beers was amazing, I really enjoyed the Peche Mortel and the Beer Geek Breakfast stout, the USalive was a different style than I had ever had but would like to try more of that style. The Big Worst, although the 18.5% ABV was frightening to see, what is even more worrisome is the fact that the alcohol does not dominate this beer at all. You get a nice sweet beer with some hop bitterness and it is relatively smooth. A fantastic flight!!! If you want a beer experience in Eastern Iowa, Reds is your ticket. Check out their site www.redsalehousenl.com for constantly changing beer menu.
I talked about beer most of this review, but their food can’t go unnoticed. My wife always orders their seared tuna appetizer, which is always great. I had their Alehouse burger which I have yet to have a better burger in the area than this one. And the best was my mom’s order of Black and Tan onion rings. The best onion rings I have ever had! Thanks again to Reds and their knowledgeable wait staff and servers!
A place that is constantly mentioned as one of the best places in Eastern Iowa to eat is in my town of Mount Vernon, Iowa called Lincoln Cafe. (www.foodisimportant.com) Here’s the description from their website:
“Lincoln Café is a small independent restaurant serving food in a way that makes us, and hopefully you, happy. We cook what we like to eat and source local and organic whenever possible. We’re friends with our farmers. We like to call it “honest food.”
That said, we also enjoy keeping up with the latest trends in high end dining and hopefully a harmonious mix of those two things finds its way onto your plate.
Lincoln Café was opened in 2001 by Matt Steigerwald after moving to Iowa from North Carolina. Before that he ran and/or cooked in several restaurants including Magnolia Grill in Durham, Vertigo in Raleigh and Helen’s in Richmond.
Chef de Cuisine:
A native of Cedar Rapids, Andy Schumacher entered the culinary world in NYC attending the French Culinary Institute and working in the City’s restaurant scene. He moved back to the area in late 2007 and started working at the Café. He now is chef de cuisine and heads up the Lincoln’s charcuterie program.”
ONTO LUNCH: My wife and I recently dined there for lunch after numerous supper visits. They had two specials on the board and I ordered one of them which was a cajun shrimp sandwich. I ordered this with fries (an extra $1.50 but worth it). The shrimp were massive and lightly battered with a great seasoning, the cajun mayo was fantastic and the super soft bun they served it on topped off a great lunch. Their fries are homemade/handcut and are terrific.
My wifes’ meal was a BLT with an avocado mayo. Tons of crisp bacon and the avocado mayo was superb. All in all a great meal, a very affordable lunch that left you satisifed instead of hitting up the local fast food pit. I highly recommend this place for lunch or dinner.
I’m very excited to contribute a review to this fine website. I chose Legends (http://www.legendsamericangrill.com/home.htm) for my first restaurant review. This is a popular dining option in the Des Moines area with 5 locations in the metro area and 2 more in Marshalltown and Ames . We went to the Johnston location and were very satisfied with our experience. It’s a very sports themed environment but a more causal dining environment section of the restaurant is available too. I was impressed by the amount of different selections they had on tap and in bottles. Some brewery selections they featured here that I hadn’t previously seen in other places included: Flying Dog, Point, and Samuel Smith. Legends has good drink specials every day of the week and the food is reasonably priced. I would say the food is above average. If you’re not familiar with Des Moines and you’re looking for a place to eat, Legends is a good bet with its casual, relaxed environment and convenient locations.
Last night my wife and I finally got to go to Red’s Alehouse in North Liberty, IA. We had heard nothing but great things about this place, from the food to the beer selection, so we were excited to finally try it. We started out with a seared tuna appetizer, which was very good. I ordered the Alehouse Burger, which might be one of the best hamburgers I’ve ever eaten. My wife ordered BBQ Chicken flatbread, which was wonderful. To make it better, we got there for happy hour and had 2 for 1 beers. I had a local pale ale from Iowa and wife had Moose Drool Brown Ale. Very cold beer, very good food, the selection of beer rotates and is very deep. I highly recommend this place to anyone in the Eastern Iowa area, it gives you a reason to go to North Liberty and a restaurant that isn’t a chain. Great stuff!!
Old Chicago (www.oldchicago.com) in Coralville, IA is not your typical chain restaurant. Although there are many different locations for Old Chicago’s they make themselves different by offering 110 different beers; many on draft and quite a few more in the bottle. Their food also is not typical of chains, as it is very good. Our usual outing to Old Chicago would include either their nachos, wings, or artichoke dip. I’m a big fan of their buffalo chicken hoagie, and their pizza is way above average.
My knock on this restaurant is that they didn’t have many (2) Iowa brewed beers available. In this day I was hoping for many more, and was hoping they would market the Iowa and or midwestern brewed selection. Also, the price of the beer is not very cheap. They sometimes run specials but that is usually for the mass produced swill and not any of the craft/micro. Despite that, it is a fun atmosphere, we take our 4 year old there and he enjoys himself. Check it out the next time you are in the Iowa City/Coralville area and join the Beer Tour as well.
My second visit to Short’s Burger and SHine in Iowa City and once again it was a fantastic meal. 20 different options of burgers to choose from on the menu. Don’t like beef? They also have 10 chicken sandwiches to choose from. Vegetarian? They have black bean burgers. All the ingredients come locally, (the beef comes 26 miles away). The fries are fresh cut and best yet, the beer on tap is all Iowa brewed beer. Here’s a link to their menu. (http://www.urbanspoon.com/u/menu/1347969?p=1).
The beers that I tried were an IPA from Knoxville, IA and a stout from Courthouse Brewery in Des Moines. Both were great, tasted fresh, and went well with my burger. If you get to Iowa City often please check this place out. It is located in the Ped Mall right next to the Airliner and Milios. I highly recommend it!
When my wife and I moved to the area we immediately checked out Chameleon’s. Great food and a surprisingly very good selection of beer was available. A few months ago we found out the bar was put up for sale and tonight was the first night we stopped in to check out what the new owners were offering. The menu was small, which sometimes is a good thing. This was typical bar food with nothing mind-blowing, but we were both satisfied with our meals. A philly cheesesteak and a turkey club with a side a fried jalapenos. What was good for us is that they cater pretty well to kids and that seems to be the big difference between the ownership now and then. More kid friendly than before. I was happy to hear the new owner talking to a customer questioning the beer options. He was wondering what New Belgium Hoptober was and the owner said they get all the seasonal New Belgium products which made me as happy as a pig in shit.
They had New Belgium Hoptober on tap and its only the middle of August which was great. I love Octoberfest beers and this one went down smooth.
Eastern Iowa residents: If you are in the Mount Vernon, IA area and are in need of a cool, refreshing, fresh beer, some decent pub grub and cool, cozy, and comfortable atmosphere; check out Chameleon’s.
The Wig and Pen (http://www.wigandpeneast.com/) located in Coralville, IA has been a frequent destination for my family and friends as well as Hawkeye football, basketball, and wrestling fans for a long time. My wife and I just stopped in for a pizza and I forgot how terrific their beer selection is. The Wig and Pen has many varieties of beer from the US and Imports. Their craft/micro selections include many Sam Adams, including their seasonal, Rogue, Boulevard, and many more. To go along with the good beer selection is the wonderful food and the fantastic atmosphere. We usually order the Flying tomato Pembroke Gardens and an order of wings. Their onion rings and burgers are also very good. A great place, great food, good beer, and a great atmosphere. The next time you are in the Coralville, IA area check out the Wig and Pen.