Editor's note: Cafe Eclectic is now open on Sundays! And they've expanded a bit so there are more tables and a bakery where you can grab stuff to go quickly! They are also certified by Project Green Fork.)
603 N. McLean Boulevard
I have been desperately trying to eat breakfast at Cafe Eclectic since it opened in late February. On the one day that I had us all dressed and ready to go, it wasn't open. Yes, it was a Sunday. Why oh why would they close on Sunday? (I know, I know, but even Brother Juniper's is open on Sundays now!)
Last Saturday we didn't get it together in time to eat breakfast, but we did make it to Cafe Eclectic for lunch. It was about 1pm and very rainy, but Cafe Eclectic was packed. It took us quite some time to find a parking spot and once we walked in, there wasn't an empty table. However, it was only a minute or two before two girls finished up their coffee and gave us their booth right by the door. (After reading the CA's story yesterday, I am thankful for the rain--otherwise there might have been a line outside the door!)
This was technically our second visit to Cafe Eclectic with the monkeys (Satchel, 5, and Jiro, 3), but on our first visit, not knowing they had a food menu, we got coffee, juice, and an ice cream float to go. Strangely enough, we ended up sitting in the very same booth that day while we waited on our drinks. All this is to say that the monkeys felt right at home from the minute we walked in. However, it's easy for everyone to feel at home in Cafe Eclectic. The decor is very inviting, and since it is usually packed, chances are you know someone there. There's a nice mix of people, some of whom have kids. It's one of those places that feels like it has been around for a long time even though it hasn't, causing someone like Warren to ask me repeatedly, "What used to be here?"
Once the girls gave us the booth, it took a minute for the waiter to see us. And then it took a few minutes for him to bus the table. And a few more to bring just Warren and me some water. The waiter looked at the monkeys like they really were monkeys and said, "Should I bring them something to drink?"
Warren had been working in the rain at the boys' school all morning; I was starving, hungover, and operating on very little sleep; and the monkeys were a bit wired from a sleepover at Gigi's. So, I was getting a little tense when it seemed like it was going to be a looooooooooooooooooooong time before we got to eat anything.
Jiro, pointing to the glass display case full of fancy bottled drinks and other delights by the register, said, "I want orange soda."
"I want grape," Satchel said. Then he followed with, "What's that stuff that looks like chocolate?"
"Biscotti," I said.
"What's that stuff that looks like bread?"
"Cake," I said.
"I want cake too!"
I turned to our oh-so-patient-waiter and said, "He (Jiro) wants an orange drink and he (Satchel) wants a grape one."
The waiter said he didn't think they had grape juice. I pointed to the bottled drinks by the counter and said, "Well whatever that reddish purple colored one is will be fine."
A few minutes later, he returned with the reddish purple bottle and a tall cup of fresh squeezed orange juice.
He was gone before I could say anything, so I put the OJ in front of Jiro hoping he wouldn't notice it wasn't soda.
"I want orange SODA," he said shunning the OJ.
I happily drank it while I waited for the waiter to come back. When he did I explained that he wanted an orange soda not orange juice.
The waiter nodded, left, and then returned with another cup of orange juice. I couldn't help laughing. "No," I said and then added (with hand signals), "He wants one of the orange drinks in a bottle like this reddish purple one." (It was a blackberry Izze.)
"Oh!" he said then walked over to get the drink. He rushed back over and said, "It isn't orange, it's clementine."
"That's fine," I said. "Clementine is actually orange."
Okay so now the monkeys had their fancy bottled Izzes, I had fresh OJ, and Warren had his coffee.
Looking at the menu, I was a little surprised by both the prices and the offerings. There were only a handful of sandwiches and one kid's item--a Nathan's hot dog for $3.75. There was a burger on the menu, but at $8.25, I hoped that both Satchel and Jiro would opt for the hot dog. (They did.) I really wanted a hamburger for myself, but was also eying the BLT with Avocado ("BLTA"). I asked Warren what he was getting and he said, "I'll just drink coffee."
"Um, excuse me?" I said huffing. (I was relying on him to get the hamburger and split it with me.) "Why don't you want to eat?"
"I'm fine," he said not really answering the question.
"Have you eaten anything today?" I asked.
"No," he said.
"Is it because the hamburger costs $8.25?" I asked, knowing that he is very (what's a nice word for cheap?) sometimes.
He glared at me.
"Oh my god," I said. "Please do not let the price stop you from eating!"
Just then, our waiter (who was now less busy and quickly endearing himself to me) came to take our order. I asked what the soup of the day was and he replied, "Beef Stew."
Since that only cost $3 something, Warren said, "Okay, I'll have some stew."
I ordered hot dogs (with the onions on the side!) for the boys. "Chips or taters?" the waiter asked.
"What are taters, exactly?" I asked.
"Oh they are soooo good," he said. "It's a mixture of fried sweet and white potatoes."
Warren looked at me and said, "Those sound good."
"Okay, give them the taters," I said. Then I ordered the hamburger.
"I thought you were getting the BLT with avocado?" Warren said, a little anxiously.
"Well, I really wanted both, but..."
"I'll get the BLTA," he said turning to the waiter. "Is it OK to change my order?"
"No problem," he said.
Now what? Warren decided to teach the monkeys how to thumb wrestle in the hopes that it would keep them occupied while we waited for the food. It was very entertaining...for about three minutes.
I looked in my purse for some paper and pens, and discovered a Chick-fil-A kid's toy that Uncle Mike had given me the night before when we made a pit stop at his house prior to going to the Hi-Tone. "Hey guys, look what Mike gave me to give to you!"
"Cool!" they said in unison and they tore the box open. It was a bunch of puzzle pieces with animals on them. They loved it. For about 4 minutes.
"Who wants to draw?" I asked.
I got out my little notebook, some pens, and started tearing pages out. Satchel wanted to draw his new favorite character of all time--Sonic the Hedgehog--but was having trouble getting it just right. Soon, he was in tears. Warren drew a funny picture for him and I drew a picture of a Sonic (the restaurant) sign and soon he was happy and telling jokes.
"Why did the chicken cross the road?" he asked.
"To get to the other side," Warren replied.
"To save the day!" he said happily.
Just then our food arrived. Everything looked delicious. There was just one minor problem. Satchel's hot dog bun was torn. He immediately started pouting and said, "They make BAD hot dogs here!"
As politely as possible, I asked if we might get a new bun. Very quickly, a new bun came out. I exchanged it for the one on Satchel's plate, but it too quickly broke in half. Expecting a freak out, but not getting one, I asked Satchel why it was okay for that bun to be split in two but not the other one. "The other one was torn," he said.
Glancing back at it, I noticed it actually had a dent in one end, where maybe the person-who-put-it-on-the-plate's finger had accidentally ripped it.
Anyways, once the bun issue was resolved, Satchel demanded to know what else was on his plate (i.e. the taters). "They're yummy," I said taking a bite of my own.
He ignored me and went about eating his hot dog.
Jiro announced that he wasn't hungry and he was just going to color.
Fine, whatever. I had a giant, juicy hamburger to eat!
Warren immediately started eying my burger and I started eying his BLTA. "Halfsies?" I asked.
He enthusiastically agreed. He did not, however, offer to share his yummy looking side salad. So, I didn't offer him any taters. (He had full access to Jiro's anyway.) Warren said he had wanted more bacon on the BLTA, but my half was perfectly bacon-ed. The burger was perfect too. (Worth every penny.) It was very easy to see that our food had been made to order from the freshest ingredients--things I'm willing to wait on and pay more for.
Once we started eating, one of the owners came by several times to check on us and make sure we were enjoying everything. Jiro eventually ate his hot dog, but not the bun, and he only made it half way through his clementine Izze.
Satchel eventually embraced his taters and on the owner's third visit he asked, "What kind of cake is that?" as he pointed to the counter.
"Orange pound cake," she replied. "I was going to put chocolate icing on it, but I kept it plain."
"Mmmm..." I said. "Want some?"
"What are those cookie things again?" he asked. "And that over there??"
Warren decided to accompany the monkeys to the counter so that they could properly quiz him. As I paid the check, he got them each a biscotti.
Satchel happily returned to the booth with his and said to me, "I hope it doesn't have coffee in it!" recalling his favorite scene from Alvin and the Chipmunks.
Our total bill was about $33 plus tip, which is more than we would normally spend on lunch. But you know what? The money went to a locally owned business that is serving fresh, delicious food in a warm & friendly environment. They've clearly put a lot of thought (and money) into making Cafe Eclectic exceptional and I want to see them succeed. So, I'm willing to pay extra to get extra.
And now, I really want to try breakfast!
A word on the restrooms--very clean and lovely, but there was a wastebasket full of used paper towels and no unused ones in sight. Clearly, the morning rush took its toll. Also, there's no changing table.