Cold wind and a light snow worked (for the most part) to my advantage in preparing the review of The Dream Cafe in Haubstadt, Indiana.
The trouble with doing site reviews is photos. In doing restaurant reviews, it's sometimes difficult to get good shots without including pictures of people who may not want their photo included in an article.
Most people have been great sports about their pictures being included in my articles. Sometimes, they'll even give me their names and allow me to quote them in an article about why they like the place. But others, who are camera shy for numerous reasons, don't want their photos included. That can make for some difficult lense-maneuvering if a place is packed.
The day T.J. (Tammy Ramsey) and Kathy (Kathy Morten) accompanied me to The Dream Cafe in Haubstadt, we were the only ones there for over an hour. We had cold temps with a light snow falling, and in this case it turned out to be a bonus because we got to spend some time with the owner and get acquainted with her and her business in a casual and relaxed manner that I don't often encounter during business reviews.
I was able to roam around, take pictures of whatever I wanted without encountering any static or fearful expressions from guests aimed at me and my camera.
Like most things, there are pros and cons to it, but I enjoyed the change. Since it wasn't busy, we had a chance to get acquainted with one of the owners of the business, Rita Meny.
T.J. and Kathy getting acquainted with the cafe's co-owner, Rita Meny.
How to get there & what to look for ...
The Dream Cafe is located at 841 S. 9th Avenue in Haubstadt.
The front of the small business plaza is a lawn with a row of signage for each business. Behind the building is a parking lot and rear entrances to the businesses on the strip.
How it got its name ...
When Rita came out of the kitchen to greet me, she was immediately accommodating. She wasn't at all anxious about meeting a stranger who'd announced to her waitress that she was there to do a review of her restaurant, or that she had friends with her and intended to include their opinions of the decor, food and service.
Rita just smiled, took a bit of time to exchange introductions with all of us and then let me know I was free to take pictures of whatever I liked. She was totally confident in introducing her business.
Not only was she confident and comfortable with us reviewing her own business, she even pressed us to visit another restaurant, in her hometown of Newburg, that she says is fantastic and well deserving of a great review.
Because of Rita's tip, we'll be slating it for an upcoming get-together spot.
While our food was being prepared, Rita explained that she and her daughter-in-law, Jessi Meny, opened the cafe about two years ago. Both women had a dream to have a restaurant, serving fresh food that was prepared in a healthy-fashion. Nearly every item on the menu is homemade from fresh ingredients and only a few are actually fried. Most are baked.
Finding produce that tasted great baked, or oven-fried, has been a bit of a challenge but the women persevered and have developed an excellent menu, that's not at all lacking in awesome flavor. It has a variety of items, including many local favorites like Reuben sandwiches, fried green tomatoes, fajitas, and oatmeal made from steel cut oats. (That'd translate to pinhead oatmeal for many of the Briarhoppers and Buckeyes).
To quote T.J. on how it tastes, "Their oatmeal is to die for. I have it nearly every time I come here for breakfast. I love it!"
Who can argue with that? If you knew how awesome the cooks are in T.J.'s family, you'd have an even greater appreciation of her evaluation of the cafe's food. The Conklins and Hassells can cook up food good enough to compete with the best culinary experts and they've been at it for generations. So, if Teej brags on it, it must be reallllyyyy good!
A look around the place ...
Additional bits of interest ...
While chatting with Rita, the girls and I discovered we attended Gibson Southern High School with a few of her children. Rita and her husband, Steve, have five of them; two adopted and three naturals. They served as foster parents for many years and over time have had more than fifty children in their care, and living in their home for both short-term and long-term arrangements.
Her background in adoption and foster parenting immediately gave her a special place of honor with the three of us. T.J. and her husband are parents to six children, four of whom are adopted and the youngest two are identical twins and in grade school with Kathy's youngest.
Accommodating fare ...
I had a veggie-burger that was delicious. You might think veggie burgers all taste the same, but that's not true. I had one a week ago that scored two-thumbs down! Thankfully, the ones served at The Dream Cafe are wonderful and they'll dress them up for you any way you like.
They also have soups that are meat free and made from vegetable-based broths, like their signature French onion soup, which I plan to try during my next visit.
In researching new menu items, the cafe serves free portions of new recipes to customers. If the dish goes over well, they consider including it on the menu, or serving it as a special or seasonal option, like their homemade sweet tomato pie or cake. (Tomato, not potato ... )
The Dream Cafe is definitely worth placing on your list of places to eat in the Wabash-Ohio rivers' land, and it's yet another option you have of supporting a locally owned and operated business, which helps our communities to thrive.
Our thanks to Rita and her wait staff for being such gracious hosts.
You were wonderful and we'll be back!
The smallest tip goes the longest way--like a good cup of coffee.
marcoujor, Virtual Buskers' Guild
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