My stomach waved the white flag. The pancakes were having none of it.
Credit: Cream & Sugar Facebook page
I love it when I accidentally stumble across something that makes me so happy. Now, I will state up front, I am neither picky, nor snobby, when it comes to food. I love Diet Dr. Pepper (my "water cancels out DDP" philosophy will likely show its shameful face in "The Little Things" at some point) and oatmeal pies from any of the assorted local gas stations just as much as a glass of red wine and some beautiful dish at an urban downtown, hipster restaurant. With that being said, however, I honestly think that I, along with a dear friend of mine, found a gem in south central Kentucky.
Little Debbies just weren't calling our names on this particular morning. We needed fried potatoes, pancakes, bacon, eggs (and real eggs, not the stuff poured from a cardboard container). As fans of piddling (in fact, my blog has an entire section dedicated to "The Art of Piddling"), we decided to just explore until we found something that looked inviting. Leaving from Bowling Green, we made our way north on 31E (that's right, I said "north" on 31"E") and ended up in Cave City, Kentucky. Steering clear of the interstate area of Cave City, we ventured to what I am assuming is the downtown. We passed a local fruit and vegetable stand, stopped in Chaser's Kentucky Chocolates (if you're feeling spunky, try the bourbon balls), and then turned left onto Broadway (I've decided there's usually neat stuff on most streets named Broadway). Across from the post office, we noticed a red awning that covered two bay windows, both of which had in crisp and classy white letters "Cream and Sugar Cafe." Yep, this was it.
You know how sometimes you can just walk into a place and know you'll like it? That it just has a sense of "home" about it? This was my experience at Cream and Sugar. The hardwood floors, exposed brick, cheerful, yet muted yellow walls, and the alluring smell of maple syrup made a great first impression. Impeccably clean and tastefully decorated (some local artwork, but not overly busy; a small bookshelf with reads like French Women Don't Get Fat and various travel books; a bulletin board with community events), this cafe simply looks like a place I would like to own.
We sat along the exposed brick-wall side, one in the booth part, the other in the chair (there is a nice mix of booths, table/chair, booth/chair combinations - none of which are too crowded or close to one another) and anxiously awaited the menus that were being rather slowly, but not lazily, strolled our way. An older gentleman approached the table with both the anticipated menus and a fresh pot of coffee in hand. His first words set a precedent that we have since come to look forward to: "Welcome to Cream and Sugar, where the food's alright and the staff's a bit grumpy." We had his number, though. Contrarian he tried to be, yet a gentle spirit and a playfulness oozed through his Jack Lemmon facade. He said little else that particular meeting, but when he did, oh what a treat. (I am inclined to share the jokes he walked over and whispered and then gingerly walked away as though he had just topped off our coffee, but perhaps they are better saved for another time). In subsequent visits, we discovered that we had in fact been served by "Grumpy Denny Doyle" (or something along those lines), a local Cave City resident who comes in from 6:30-7:30 (before the wait staff can get there) and just volunteers. I have a feeling that this is one of the many interesting characters that enliven Cream and Sugar Cafe.
But, anyway, the food (and for those of you who don't HATE texting acronyms as much as I, please put an "OMG" after that). The menu is fairly simple; you won't be able to order a vegetarian frittata or smoked salmon eggs benedict. The choices are nonetheless aplenty: bacon, sausage, city or country ham, biscuits/toasts, eggs cooked to order, make-your-own-omelets, waffles (well, in theory, they haven't had waffles during subsequent visits either), french toast, and pancakes. Breakfast is probably my favorite meal of the day, and let me tell you, this is truly one of the best breakfast places I have ever patroned. The bacon is always perfectly crisp, the pancakes are huge (please, go with two, not the 3 stack) and fluffy and utterly irresistible, the eggs are "real" eggs, the potatoes are fried like my dad used to do on Christmas morning, and the homemade blueberry muffins look like they should be on the cover of FOLK Magazine:) (the only thing I would not recommend is the gravy; it isn't sausage gravy and thus does not have enough grease and fat content for my liking). Furthermore, the coffee is freshly brewed, each individual gets their own syrup container (for some reason, this made me so happy), and the prices are incredibly reasonable (two people can get out of there - and utterly stuffed - for under $15).
If you're in the area between 6:30 and 2:00, you should definitely stop in. Trust me, you will leave a little heavier, but a whole lot happier.
I love finding local diners, drive-ins, and dives. If you have suggestions, please pass along!
Liza's column The Little Things appears regularly in FOLK.
You can also find her on her blog, Pillow Book.
You can also find her on her blog, Pillow Book.