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“We are committed to building lasting relationships with our customers, farmers, growers, and producers” is both the philosophy and reality of the Simple Cafe Lake Geneva. During the hunt for amazing Farm-to-Fork restaurants for my next book, I was sold the praises of this place and became eager to see if it lived up to its hype.
With a phone call to Josh, their General Manager, I learned of his involvement during his 2-year-long tenure. He tempted me with items off of the new seasonal menu like corn fritters and a mashed potato omelet. Honestly, the chef in me was intrigued – I can usually “taste” food in my head and simply couldn’t wrap my head around that last one…
He shared how they like to take care of their community locally source what they can as they like to know where their food comes from. Once they get those seasonal items? They like to find ways to enhance their natural flavor: to really let the food shine.
I had to visit and see this for myself.
Simple Cafe Lake Geneva
Upon entrance to the brightly painted gem, you check-in for a table in the COVID-friendly spaced out dining room or outside patio. The staff is fully masked and you are asked to mask up for entering (you can remove it to eat). Even the associated bakery (right next door) limits how many people may enter at a time.
Amber was my flavor guide – she is the Assistant General Manager, and just as passionate about what the Simple Cafe does as Josh was. While Miss Sarah settled on a plain burger, I had a little of everything. (sigh) I couldn’t decide after Josh teased me over the phone, and then I actually read the menu. I saw a “Mashed potato omelet” travel to a neighboring table and got his thoughts on it. By the way, he literally licked his plate…
So, “sample” is not a word in their vocabulary, LOL — you can see the “sample” of Simple Granola that they brought out in the picture below. It was a soup cup sized “sample” and tasted like a fresh fall fruit crisp in a spoon. According to the menu: House-made almond milk, blueberries, and simple granola (oats, almonds, coconut, pumpkin, sesame, flax, and sunflower seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, and spices). The blueberries were fresh from Michigan – a farmer they connected with – and that perfect sweet/tart goodness that really elevated this “sample”. Actually, I loved it so much that I picked up a bag of their granola from their bakery next door…
Now for the corn fritters. Normally they come two to a plate, and I just got one. It was almost too pretty to eat! Quinoa, grilled corn, green onion, roasted sweet potato, and gruyere fritters topped with diced tomato, avocado, cilantro, one egg over easy, and a chipotle cilantro cream sauce.
My eyes rolled back inside my head. I would (and will) literally drive to Lake Geneva just for another plate of these. The avocado countered the slight heat of the cream sauce, the salty goodness of the egg yolk balanced the sweetness of the corn fritter. It. Was. Perfect.
The star of the Blueberry pancakes (I got just one because – I was eating everything they make, practically) was not those Michigan Blueberries, but the Blueberry Maple syrup that has a little grated lemon in it. That citrus flavor, when paired with the burst blueberry compote style syrup makes for a party in your mouth that can’t be beat. Seriously.
Now for that Mashed Potato Omelet. The menu says: creamy mashed potato, fruitwood smoked bacon, green onion, topped with creole hollandaise sauce. It is served with pesto topped sliced tomatoes to really make the color of the plate pop. Just look at it:
I can see why he licked his plate. I knew there was no way I could eat it all, but had to take the rest home in a box. The creamy mashed potato was not at all what I pictured. It had “chunky” homemade mashed potatoes for the texture that played off the bacon and sauce. It was like a loaded baked potato inside some of the most perfect scrambled eggs. Honestly, I am not a tomato fan but the pesto? Right on target and a great to pair with that little bite of the hollandaise.
OK, when I reheated it at home? I licked my plate too.
I know return trips are in order as I didn’t even get to try the Korean BBQ Breakfast Bowl that is a staple on their menu year-round. The Chicken & Roasted Sweet Corn Omelet, as well as the Turkey Hash, have my curiosity peaked…and there are three or four more menus a year? ( sigh ) I know you feel my dilemma.
Simple Cafe Lake Geneva is mission-based. Community Focused. Relationship driven. As I sat under their wall of fame farmers/producers it was easy to understand. Each framed face pretty much represented a flavor I tasted during my visit. I reviewed my notes from my dining experience:
- Just Wow.
- Divine Southwest Inspiration.
- Michigan Blueberry Compote?
- Holy Crap: Mashed potato omeletes work!
It is easy to see how this has become personal for all of their staff – and the joy they take incorporating unique items. Blueberry citrus syrup on a corn fritter? Tempting… I think Amber and I should be besties.
I wonder if the Simple Cafe Lake Geneva has a punch card.