Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Moose Cafe

Located at 2914 Sandy Ridge Road inside the Piedmont-Triad Farmer’s Market in Colfax, The Moose Café is a “farm to table” restaurant specializing in country cooking. The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is a country store on-premises, and a sister location can be found in Asheville.

At first glance, The Moose Café looks like a less corporate Cracker Barrel. The menu screams “country” and you walk by the store upon entry. However, there is much more to this establishment than meets the eye.

For starters, the variety is astounding. We arrived between breakfast and lunch and perused one of each menu, each of which came with an insert for specials. On the breakfast side, you’ll find everything from hearty combination plates (eggs, pancakes, grits, meat, etc.) to omelets and skillets. The lunch selections read like management mugged a Southern grandmother. Chicken and biscuits, pulled pork, fried chicken, collards, and slaw are all accounted for here. No matter what you opt for, you’ll be able to enjoy it with complimentary biscuits and apple butter, both of which taste fresh, homemade, and delicious.

Whatever you pick, you will likely receive lots of it. Portion sizes are plentiful, and the pricing is unbeatable. The lunch plates typically range from $7-$8 and include two sides and cornbread. Each plate easily yields two meals’ worth of food, which may make you feel bad the next time you drop $8 on a sandwich.

The execution here is mostly spot-on. Though “homemade” is often an empty buzzword, the farmer’s market location adds credence to the concept, and several items can be sourced to specific local farms. Plus, your taste buds will do their own convincing. The pulled pork had a pleasantly surprising sweetness, the sweet potato casserole (made from roasted potatoes) was smoky and melt-in-your-mouth good, and the fried green tomatoes were simply but enjoyable. Even the few missteps are forgivable. An oily succotash redeemed itself by packing an unexpected kick and creamy-but-bland cheese grits were nothing some pepper couldn’t fix. The sweet tea, served in glass jars, was the genuine article.

Given the busyness of the farmer’s market when we arrived, service was impressively quick. We were seated with zero wait time, and our food came out earlier than expected. Despite the high volume of patrons, both our hostess and our server were friendly to a fault. The one slip-up – my companion received non-sweet instead of sweet tea – was quickly and apologetically corrected.

Country cooking, perhaps understandably, gets a bad rap, but The Moose Café can make a believer out of you. If you’re at the farmer’s market, it’s a must-stop, and if you aren’t, it’s well worth the drive. What you spend on gas, you’ll save on the leftovers you’ll inevitably have, and your stomach will thank you for it.


The Moose Cafe on Urbanspoon

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