Georgetown's Monument Cafe is a living testament to the classic roadside diner cooking of a bygone era
Reviewed by Virginia B. Wood, Fri., April 23, 2010
Monument Cafe500 S. Austin Ave., Georgetown; 512/930-9586
Sunday-Thursday, 7am-9pm; Friday-Saturday, 7am-10pm
The word "monument" is based on a Latin root that means "to remind." Monuments typically remind us of special people or commemorate important events. Georgetown's popular Monument Cafe is a living testament to the classic roadside diner cooking of a bygone era, offering simply prepared fresh food, sold at affordable prices. The cafe opened in a small original location in 1995, and overwhelming success necessitated the move to a much bigger new building not far from the historic courthouse square in 2008. The new space boasts classic retro diner styling with accents of dark wood and chrome, Art Deco light fixtures alternating with ceiling fans, black vinyl booths, and tables with sturdy schoolhouse chairs. The menu is simple and straightforward with everything made fresh, from scratch, every day. The atmosphere is small-town friendly with attentive service to match.
Meals at the Monument begin with warm bread – biscuits so light and fluffy they fairly float above the plate. The lunch/dinner menu offers meat entrées with choices of fresh salads and vegetable dishes on the side. The sides and blackboard specials change daily, depending on the farm-fresh produce available from local vendors. Check the website for daily menu updates. We enjoyed the heavenly biscuits with frosty glasses of fresh-squeezed lemonade ($2.50 with a big bar-shaker refill) while waiting for our lunch. The house chicken-fried steak (4 ounces for $9.95, 8 ounces for $13.95) is a fork-tender slice of hand-breaded Meyer Angus beef napped with simple, pepper-flecked cream gravy. Pencil-thin grilled asparagus and roasted fresh cauliflower rounded out the satisfying plate. Fried catfish ($14.95) arrives whole, the meat moist and flavorful and encased in a crackling cornmeal crust, accompanied by lemon wedges and a tangy house tartar sauce. Crisp sweet potato fries and ribbons of fried zucchini added fresh flavor and color to this plate. The chicken and dumplings ($8.95) from the blackboard specials list reminded me of my grandmother Walden's stellar version – always a good sign – toothsome boned chicken in a creamy stew with carrots and celery thickened with soft, plump dumplings. Everything on the table was a winner.
The Monument Cafe is justifiably famous for its marvelous pies, and it's recently begun making its own custard ice cream, so saving room for dessert here is a requirement. The Monument chocolate pie ($3.95) offers a dark-chocolate icebox filling topped with a dreamy cloud of sweetened whipped cream in a toasted pecan crust. The dessert special of the day, a blackberry fried pie ($3.50) topped with a scoop of the luxurious homemade vanilla custard, was a study in decadent contrasts: the hot, flaky crust holding a juicy filling, the slightly tart berries playing perfectly off the cold, velvet cream. OMG – so very good. This particular monument commemorates the very best comfort food cooking traditions, making it a worthwhile destination any day of the week.
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