I’ve enjoyed several recent lunches at Bonnie Kate Café, which offers a pleasant and casual destination for someone wanting a relaxing lunch hour. Patrons can kick off a visit by ordering one of the café’s coffee drinks or teas. On my most recent visit, our server asked if me and my two friends would like to try a pumpkin latte or cappuccino. My friend decided to try the pumpkin latte and reported that the drink was a spicy, autumnal treat similar to a blend of chai tea with coffee, but with a definite pumpkin-pie flavor. The drink was also served with a generous garnish of ground cinnamon.
Gold-painted plastered walls with patches of exposed brick provide the major touches for the eatery’s interior design. The restaurant offers seating at both booths and tables. The front counter offers a glass display case showcasing some of the tempting desserts and side dishes available. Tiles decorating the front counter depict movie posters from some Hollywood classics. The dining area also includes attractive light fixtures and ceiling fans. An additional decorative touch included some seasonal displays of gourds and miniature pumpkins.
While my friend enjoyed his pumpkin latte, we all studied the menu’s lunch options. The menu offers a range of sandwiches, wraps and salads, as well as daily lunch specials and platters. The café also offers a grilled fish of the day.
I considered several possibilities, including the Greek Salad, Buffalo Chicken Wrap, Open Faced Hot Roast Beef Sandwich, Meatloaf and the Chicken Salad and Fruit Plate. Some of the burgers also tempted me, including the Juicy Lucy — two beef patties with a choice of cheese crimped between them before grilling — as well as the Black and Bleu Burger, which is a beef patty grilled with blackening seasoning and served with Swiss cheese, blue cheese crumbles and lettuce, tomato, onion and mayonnaise.
I chose one of the daily specials — Teriyaki Beef served over Fettuccine Pasta with Mixed Vegetables. My lunch companions ordered the Bourbon-glazed Grilled Salmon and the Strawberry Spinach Salad.
I also chose to start off the meal with a cup of soup. Soups du jour during our visit included French Onion and Broccoli- Cheese Soup. I ordered the latter, which arrived promptly in an attractive square bowl. This smooth, creamy soup, garnished with shredded cheese, featured a rich cheese mixture loaded with chunks of broccoli and was served with crackers. It’s a great soup for an autumn lunch and would be great for chasing off a chill.
Not long after I finished my soup, the lunch entrees arrived. They were all stylishly presented. My Teriyaki Beef was served over thick fettuccine noodles tossed with lightly sauteed vegetables, including carrots, zucchini, yellow squash and string beans. Four triangles of grilled pita bread garnished the plate. The thin slices of grilled beef were seasoned well with a slightly sweet teriyaki sauce and sprinkled with poppy seeds. At a previous lunch, I enjoyed this same dish served over rice instead of noodles. Although I greatly enjoyed the noodles, I liked the dish slightly better served over the rice. The tender, flavorful beef slices are almost — but not quite — eclipsed by the wonderful vegetables blended into this stir-fry dish.
My lunch companions also enjoyed their meals. My friend with the grilled salmon even offered a small sampling of this fish. The flaky, mild salmon filet had been grilled perfectly and the bourbon glaze really brought out the full flavor of the salmon. This dish was served with broccoli florets and a vegetable medley of carrots, bell peppers and string beans, which were also nicely seasoned.
The Strawberry Spinach Salad starts with a base of baby spinach topped with fresh strawberries, walnut, crumbled feta cheese and grilled chicken. The salad is served with a container of poppy-seed dressing on the side, as well as crackers.
Elizabethton’s truly fortunate to have an abundance of independently owned restaurants offering great lunch-time destinations. The Bonnie Kate Café’s one of the best of the local lunch spots, and I have never been disappointed with a lunch item.
The restaurant, as well as the adjacent theater and ice cream shop, are owned and operated by Brian and Cindy Higgs. Brian’s culinary flair is on display with all the menu offerings. The cafe’s management is also always looking for ways to offer creative venues for the public. For instance, the café has begun hosting Singer/Songwriter Night on Thursdays. This weekly event, hosted by Jordan Buchanan, begins at 7 p.m. each Thursday.
During my most recent visit I skipped the sweets on display under the glass case at the front counter, but I did order a hot chai tea to go. Like the pumpkin latte, this was also a great autumn beverage. As the weather turns cooler and people start looking for cozy lunch spots, few could beat Bonnie Kate Café. If you visit, let them know they came recommended.
AT A GLANCE: Bonnie Kate Café, 115 S. Sycamore St., Elizabethton. 543-1933. Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Fine dining with live music is offered Friday from 5-9 p.m. and Saturday from 3-9 p.m. Sunday brunch is offered from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Lunch items mostly $7.95 and under. Credit cards accepted. Carryout available. Selection of beers and wines available.