2 weeks ago (to the day, in fact) I was on my way to Des Moines for a long weekend with college friends. I had hoped to visit and post about a number of places, but unfortunately the weather and other circumstances limited me to a couple of stops on Thursday. However, since something's better than nothing...
My first stop was the Andrew Cafe
in Andrew, Iowa. It's run by Mr. and Mrs. Eldon Hoerschelman, with him being in the front of the house and her in the kitchen (at least while I was there).
I arrived just as a previous customer was leaving...on his John Deere lawn tractor. Yep, I'm in Iowa.
The walls are decorated with all kinds of historical photos and articles about Andrew and the surrounding area, and while the cafe isn't a big place it has a spacious feel.
No trip to Iowa is complete without at least one BPT so that was my first choice. It was fairly thin but moist without being greasy, with a mildly seasoned, somewhat coarse, not-too-salty breading, and I ate half of it plain and half with mustard.
Eldon had told me that they buy whole chickens and cut them up themselves, so if the BPT was my appetizer then a couple of pieces of fried chicken were going to be my main course. While I liked the breading on the BPT I thought it really worked well on the crispy chicken, which was juicy and flavorful. Unfortunately I forgot to ask about the frying method, but however they do it they do it well.
The cafe has been in business for almost 8 years but the last couple of years have been a little tough, so I hope things turn around for them. While I was there a couple of locals came in for lunch but it would've been nice to see a few more people.
Did you know that Andrew is the final resting place of Ansel Briggs
, the first governor of Iowa? Of course you didn't. In fact, you didn't even know Andrew existed prior to reading this thread.
After lunch it was back to the rural highways and byways, at least until the need for speed drew me to I-80. As I was headed south through the small town of Olin I passed Ol' Town Eats
, which was going to be nothing more than a trip footnote until I spotted the smokers on the side of the building, which caused me to circle the block and park.
The sign said "Open" so I went inside. The owner was doing prep work in the kitchen, the waitress was redoing the message board, and the dining room was dark so I wasn't sure if I could get anything (which wouldn't have been a total loss as I was still quite full from lunch not too long ago), but they were more than happy to set me up with a pulled pork sandwich.
Oh, happy day! The smoked pork actually had some decent smoke flavor, unlike some of the other barbecue I've had recently, and the tomato-based sauce wasn't overly sweet. I guess those smokers aren't just for show! The sandwich also includes a slice of smoked provolone cheese, and while not traditional it's still a nice touch.
Because the dining room was dark I got my sandwich to go and set out to find a place to eat. Just a little farther down the street I stopped at a Casey's General Store (an Iowa-based convenience store chain) for a couple of bottles of water and then went to the park across the street to sit at a picnic table.
This isn't the official Olin town park and from what I could tell it appears to be more of a "memory park", where stones and benches can be purchased and placed as remembrances.
There's a small fountain.
And an Armed Services memorial.
All in all it was a very nice place to relax, eat my barbecue, and generally shake off the road for a bit in the afternoon sunshine.
Unfortunately this is where things end. The weather would be decidedly worse the next day so I cancelled my plans for Des Moines...but hey, there's always next year and I can leave you with one more typically Midwestern image:
The tractor graveyard on IA-64, just on the western edge of Miles.
<message edited by ScreamingChicken on Thu, 05/31/12 11:34 AM>