Neighborhood Cafe tradition continues at new site
Nwf Daily News
Posted Dec 27, 2017
You’ve been wondering what was going on with that old bank building at the main entrance to Sun Plaza on Mary Esther Cut-Off. Wonder no more — it has become the new home of the Neighborhood Café.
Located only a hop, skip and a jump across the parking lot from the old location at Sun Plaza, the restaurant is seeing some big changes. Now it has a bar, a separate room off to the side, and more tables and booths.
People are filling those tables and booths, too, a good sign that the folks at the Neighborhood Café know what hungry diners want — hearty breakfast and lunch fare at reasonable prices.
Neighborhood Café is a breakfast and lunch venue that offers a full menu of traditional America fare for both. In fact, they have two menus. But depending on what time of day you go, you can order from both. That’s what we did.
The breakfast lineup includes all the dishes you’d expect — eggs in your choice of prep (fried, scrambled or in an omelet), along with sausage, steak, steak of the country fried persuasion, hash browns and grits.
If you’d rather, try the Secret Homemade Pancakes with two- or three-flapjack stacks that you can top with blueberries, strawberries, pecans or chocolate chips. And syrup, of course. For a protein add Polish, Cajun or Italian sausage; a slice of ham; turkey sausage or country ham.
Préfère la cuisine Française? Opt for the hand-dipped or strawberry-stuffed French toast. Complete your breakfast tour of Europe with a Belgian waffle.
Egg fans will want to go in the direction of an omelet. Order a Super Sized Omelet in various iterations — plain, cheese, ham and cheese, bacon and cheese, Polish, Italian or Cajun — the list goes on and I’m getting hungry.
Plus you can choose from a long list of sides — grits, corned beef hash, biscuits and cereal, and that’s just a few of the choices.
The lunch menu features a blend of sandwiches, hot sandwiches, burgers and baskets.
The sandwich options include all the traditional favorites — ham and cheese, Classic BLT, egg salad and a host of others. Burgers, Reubens, tuna melts and French dip make up some of the hot sandwich offerings.
If your tastes lead to seafood, try the jumbo shrimp basket, popcorn shrimp or crab cakes.
Between the two of us, we ordered the jumbo shrimp basket, a black Angus steak burger, country fried steak and a side of scrambled eggs and hashbrowns.
I’m miserly in my praise, but I’m here to tell you, the French fries might have been the best I’ve ever tasted in this town. Hands down, the best. They were snappy crisp on the outside and succulent on the inside, not too salty and not weirdly spiced. You’re thinking I’m a fan? Absolutely.
The burger was hand-shaped and more than generous. It was the kind of burger patty your dad would make. The country fried steak, served with sausage gravy, was tender and flavorful, and the shrimp were fried to a delightful golden hue and crispy to a fault. I just wish there had been more of them.
Overall, it was a terrific meal for under $30.
I asked my dining companion to describe the décor. Her response was “barnyard chic,” meaning there’s a farm motif to the wall hangings and decorations.
When you enter Neighborhood Café, the first thing you see is the dining counter up front, which faces the kitchen. It’s a Norman Rockwell-style setup that used to be a fixture at drug stores and five-and-dimes. To the left, is a separate room, and, to the right, in an L-shaped room, is a blend of booths and tables.
It’s all very down home and traditional.
The wait staff was friendly and polite, and serving time was quick, even when we asked that a dish be re-plated.
There were a couple of hiccups, which I attribute to the newness of the restaurant, and the fact that all tables and
booths were filled.
Overall the service experience was positive.
A FINAL TASTE
The Neighborhood Café features traditional American comfort foods. It’s a breakfast and lunch restaurant, so don’t expect dinner-style dishes like lasagna and chicken marsala.
Be prepared for a busy parking lot and dining area, but that’s a good thing, right? Like other local super-favorites — Stewbies and the Donut Hole come to mind — diners have discovered the Neighborhood Café and are spreading the news.
To check out the menu and pricing before you go, visit http://www.neighborhoodcafefwb.com.