Rolo's Cafe has been on my radar for awhile now, but it kept getting pushed out by more novel food (Indian? Yes, please.) Finally, one Friday night, the hubby and I headed in to check it out. Given the small storefront, I was surprised at how roomy the restaurant was. We were seated promptly and split our attention between the menu and the train decor. One of the most obvious things about Rolo's is that someone is truly passionate about trains. From the black and white pictures on the wall to the toy train that runs on a track overhead, it's more than a kitchsy decor theme. Their website even includes audio files of different train whistles.
The menu contains some constants as well as a weekly rotation of main and side dishes. My hubby opted for a Ruben (one of the constants) and I selected one of the daily specials--grilled chicken with hunter sauce. Although it wasn't noted on the menu our server had clued me in that the grilled chicken would come with rice, so I selected turnip greens and corn for my two sides and cornbread for my bread.
When our drinks came out, we both noted that our sodas tasted a bit off, as though the soda water/syrup balance in their fountain needed to be adjusted. It was passable though, so we continued to sip them and chat. Our food came up surprisingly quickly and as our server set it down, I noticed that I had been given the wrong side. I pointed it out and she collected my plate and returned a few minutes later with the corrected order.
With that fixed, we began our meal. My chicken was moist, with a strong gravy flavor on the outside and pepper along the edges. The "hunter sauce" was a thin gravy with a full herb-y flavor. The rice was soft, almost to the point of being overcooked, but it blended well with the gravy and chicken. The turnip greens were tender with a smoky flavor that made me think they were cooked with some bacon grease. The sauce they were in seemed to be mostly water. The corn was piping hot, served in the distinctive canning water of canned corn. However, the canned corn was clearly high quality as it didn't have the metallic taste of most brands. The corn was unbuttered and there was no butter on the table, but it was flavorful enough that I ate it happily just as was.
It was the cornbread muffin that most wowed me though. Light and flaky with a subtle corn flavor, barely crisp at the edges of the muffin top, it was thoroughly delicious.
The hubby was happy with his sandwich and the included fries.
When we finished our meal, the hubby went up front to pay while I flagged down a server and asked for a to-go cup. Instead of just bringing me an empty cup, she inquired what I had be drinking and brought me a to-go cup filled up and ready to go. Those are the sorts of little details that demonstrate great customer service.
Rolo's has given me new insight into the world of "down home cooking". Often that descriptor seems to be an excuse for bland, unseasoned, pre-prepared food. Instead Rolo's offers good, solid food, prepared well. The atmosphere is laid back and friendly and I will absolutely be back. Especially because Thursdays promise eight hour pot roast and "Mississippi Mud Cake".
Total for the Meal: $19.31 (includes one daily special, one sandwich, and two soft drinks)
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