by Elissa Karg
At the Weekday Café, chef Ed Shogren strongly believes in making his food from scratch. He begins the day by roasting beef bones to make soup stock. For the hot turkey sandwich, he roasts the turkey, makes the gravy, mashes the potatoes and serves it up for a mere $5.95.
Here’s a terrific meal: bratwurst, red cabbage, spaetzle and a cup of minestrone, all for $9.
The fabulous red cabbage is braised in butter with vinegar, amber bock (a full-bodied dark German beer) and a little sugar, then it’s cooked until it has an almost caramelized flavor. Spaetzle, a German noodle, is labor-intensive and time-consuming to make from scratch. The dough is forced through the holes of a colander, directly into boiling water. The result is irregularly shaped noodles, like little dumplings. Shogren then sautés them on the grill until they have a little bit of crispness. He says that old German ladies with tears in their eyes thank him for making food “just like mama.”
Shogren is a self-taught chef who credits an “old, tough German” at a Wyoming resort as his mentor. “God help you if you didn’t do things the way he wanted,” he says.
Other entrées include fettuccine Alfredo, fish and chips (made with whitefish instead of the usual cod), mesquite-grilled shrimp, grilled ham steak (with fresh pineapple and golden raisins in a coconut butter), grilled chicken breast with chili mole, and, of course, steak. Hamburgers are made from sirloin steak, ground in the kitchen so Shogren can be sure of what he’s serving.
Four homemade soups are featured daily, and among those we tried, none was less than perfect. The creamed tomato starts out with real tomatoes, and the minestrone was the best ever, with a zesty flavor, plenty of beans and a fresh shaving of Parmesan on top. The shrimp bisque was silky-smooth. The cream of pumpkin appeared on the menu on Nov. 1, the leftovers from pumpkin carving at the Shogren home.
Ed and Candace Shogren, each with more than 30 years of experience in the restaurant business, opened the Weekday Café a year ago. The always-cheerful Candace works the front of the house, often single-handedly, while Ed prefers to stay in the kitchen. Together they are running a very impressive restaurant.
The Weekday Café is busiest at lunchtime and closes at 7 every evening. As the moniker indicates, it isn’t open on the weekends. A cute spot with seating for just 16, the walls are mustard-colored, and black-and-white checkered cloth covers the tables.
Sandwiches are what most people order. I tried sliced turkey served on cranberry bread with a luscious cranberry mayonnaise in a deep shade of red, flavored with orange zest. This was unbelievably good. Even better: the ham sandwich on zucchini bread with pineapple cream cheese. I asked Shogren how he came up with these combinations. “Anything that tastes good, if it’s mixed together, it can’t taste bad — within reason,” he says. Shogren prefers unusual combinations to unfamiliar tastes — what he calls “snobby food.”
The desserts are baked daily. There are always brownies, a buttery but not-too-sweet three-nut pie, carrot cake and cheesecake. The cranberry bread pudding with vanilla sauce — a special — was dreamy.
My only complaint was the weak coffee.
Elissa Karg dines for Metro Times. E-mail email@example.com.