Across the street from Lewis-Clark State College there’s a little shop that harkens back to the days of soda fountains. Behind the plate glass window is a long counter with spinning stools. One can imagine college students and Normal Hill kids meeting for ice cream and malts decades ago.
The neighborhood shop calls out for a crowd and after sitting empty for a time it opened last fall as Cafe Reuben offering breakfast and lunch.
The business is run by Steve Lear, the former mayor of Enterprise, Ore., where he ran Lear’s Main Street Pub and Grill for more than 10 years, according to the Lewiston Tribune.
Eating at the restaurant is like visiting your smart-cracking grandpa’s house for a meal. Do not expect fast food speed. Do expect a freshly prepared hearty meal in a welcoming family atmosphere where the cook may pay your table a visit to see that all are satisfied.
What do I mean by smart-cracking? A return customer ordered a side of breakfast potatoes. When the meal arrived the potatoes were AWOL. After she pointed this out, the chef produced a raw potato on a plate, to some laughs, before delivering the omitted fare.
The crispy, cheesy breakfast potatoes appear in dishes like Brats, Potatoes and Eggs ($10) and the ribeye Chicken Fried Steak ($14). On the sweeter side is Vanilla French Toast ($8) made with locally sourced brioche bread; Pecan Pancakes ($9); and European Style Crepes ($9) drizzled with raspberry and kiwi strawberry syrup. Irish Corned Beef Hash ($10) and house roasted Hatch Green Chilies Huevos Rancheros with chorizo ($9) add a worldly flare.
Ordering for lunch I had the buxom Reuben, made from non-processed corned beef brisket and served with warm sauerkraut on toasted rye ($10). Sandwiches come with fries, or substitute a salad ($3). Among the other choices, the Pork Prime Rib Sandwich served with house made bourbon barbecue sauce ($8); the hand-pressed sirloin Bistro Burger ($9) and Chicken, Maybe Avocado, Bacon Salad ($12) with red onions, blue cheese, diced tomatoes, pecans, fresh mushrooms, chopped and smoked bacon and avocado, but only if the avocados are “decent” that day, the menu forewarns.
Cafe Reuben, 607 7th Ave, Lewiston, (208) 746-3835