Restaurants & Bars

Lincoln Cafe -- Mt. Vernon, Iowa

SmallCap | Apr 22, 200510:53 PM     11

Finally made it out to this spot, which is its own sort of "famous" in northeastern Iowa -- knowing what I know now, I'd go to the effort of the drive out of either Cedar Rapids or Iowa City, just to return!

The Lincoln Cafe is (I believe) owned or run by the partner of someone who teaches at Mt. Vernon's private college -- I believe he is a CIA grad, so there is some pedigree here. And the reputation gets around! It's a tiny spot that was completely full on a weekday evening as I had been warned they would be -- so call ahead. They'll put your name on the wait list, which wasn't long in our case.

The menu is tiny as well -- oral presentation plus the chalkboard treatment -- three entrees or so, a soup, a salad, maybe two desserts, etc. So don't go with a specific dish in mind! They rotate almost constantly, from what I understand. Most of their ingredients are local, organic, seasonal, or all three.

It's strictly bring-your-own-wine for a $4 corkage free that covers some nice stemware.

Forgive me for not citing the specific dishes we ordered (it was nearly a month ago), but as I said, the menu rotates which likely makes that irrelevant. Suffice it to say the food was amazing, in particular the soup & the seafood. The presentation was top-notch. The service was professional & friendly & efficient -- although a few of them loosened up by the time we departed as the last patrons -- in the sense that, this is a place which knows it has a good reputation & knows it deserves it. Prices were mid-range upscale, perhaps a few dollars less due to the small-town location... our bill was $70 or so with two entrees, our own wine, an appetizer, coffee & a shared dessert, etc.

Lincoln also serves limited lunch hours, I understand, although we were unable to try that first-hand.

All in all, an excellent (& filling) dining experience -- particularly if you're in Cedar Rapids, where I have always found a lack of good restaurant choices.


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