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Food Dude

Breakfast comes to church

5/20/2015

The name is a lot to chew — Drake Bakery, Café and Bar. That’s just part of its intentions. It also has a stage and a dance floor, and it’s set in an old Baptist Church. Owner Frank Strub, a member of Forest Evaschevski’s Iowa Hawkeye football teams of the early 1950s, is a friendly, hands-on guy who chats up guests, even those he has never met. He says he wants the place to become a community gathering center for the neighborhood and for students, too, by offering free Internet.

Drake Bakery, Cafe and Bar’s $4 big breakfast.

Drake Bakery, Cafe and Bar’s $4 big breakfast.

Because the place is north of Forest on 23rd Street, it’s largely invisible. Strub began a new strategy last week: He’s offering a big breakfast special for $4, which he says is his food cost. The café also offers a door prize raffle, using it to obtain email addresses so they can contact people directly when they begin employing the dance floor and stage in earnest, and just to tell folks directly about other specials.

I was drawn to the quirkiness of the place. The tiny bar has four barstools and four other small chairs pushed in front of a shelf and window. The bar offers cocktails and martinis and uses mostly middle and top shelf booze. There was a surprisingly large list of beers — both mainstream and craft — and a decent wine list for such a small place. Happy hours and other promotions offered some bargains, too.

The main room has 36 seats, mostly upholstered arm chairs on wheels. About half sit on tiles and half on carpeting. If you don’t care to be rolling while eating, go for one on carpet. High definition TVs played quieter than the state-of-the-art coolers in the open kitchen. That’s a good thing. Walls showed off photos of Drake landmarks and a few of Strub’s old undefeated teammates at City High in Iowa City and the 1952 Hawkeye team. Others showed the design of the Heartland Trophy, given to the winner of the Iowa vs. Wisconsin game. That’s the one of the bull, not one of the notoriously boring or inappropriate trophies designed recently for other Hawkeye rivalries.The menu also has a good, appropriate design. This is diner food, pure and simple. Breakfast is a big deal with its own menu, sold until 10:30 a.m., except on Sundays when a breakfast brunch ($13) is offered until 1:30 p.m. Hash browns come in two forms: shoestring type, which were marvelously browned and tender; and diced and called “Drake potatoes.” Waffles and pancakes and a few freshly baked specialties — beignets in New Orleans-style, apple strudel Bavarian-style, sticky buns and blueberry muffins — also starred. The kitchen makes fabulous biscuits topped with a creamy sausage gravy.

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The big breakfast is sold until 1:30 p.m and is the best bargain breakfast in decades around town. It includes three eggs as you like them, three sausage links, a large serving of hash browns and choice of toast and jelly or sausage gravy and biscuits.

Dinner and lunch menus are also diner fare. Build your own burgers, fried chicken, fried fish, New York Strips and pork chop dinners ($10-$18) come with a choice of two side dishes among 11 offered. Salads run just $2-$4 here. Large milk shakes with whipped creams are just $3.

DRAKE BAKERY, CAFÉ AND BAR
1409 23rd St., 412-1068
Mon.–Thurs. 6:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., Wed
4:30-10 p.m., Thurs. 4:30 p.m. –
12:30 a.m., Fri.-Sat. 4:30 p.m. – 1:30
a.m., Sun. 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

 

Side Dishes

Bob Rand’s Archie’s Waeside Café in LeMars won a James Beard American Classics award. This steakhouse dry ages steaks, raises its own garden and cures its corned beef brisket for their complimentary lazy Susan. This is big victory for Iowa. CV

 

Jim Duncan is a freelance writer who has penned nine different columns for Cityview and its sister publications beginning in 1987.

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