Main St Cafe in Madison (not to be confused with Main St. Cafe and Bakery in Huntsville) has been strongly recommended to me by several people. So when Lady A and I were looking for a new spot to try, I suggested we check it out.
We arrived about 15 minutes after they opened to find the restaurant already bustling with people and more following us in. It was a pretty day, so we opted to sit on the patio. Our server appeared quickly, taking drink orders and carrying over a large whiteboard so we could see the list of daily specials. I was impressed to see that the daily specials included several sugar free dessert options. What really caught our eye though, were the appetizers.
I selected the fried pickles and Lady A went with the fried green tomatoes. Because that's what you do with vegetables, you fry them. ; ) After ordering our extremely healthy appetizers, we started perusing the menu. Hungry and confronted with way too many delicious sounding dishes, I fell back on an old ploy. I ordered the first thing my eyes has landed on--Fettucini Alfredo, add grilled chicken, with the raspberry vinagrette dressing for the salad. Lady A went with the Crunchy Chicken Casserole. Our server gave me the choice of getting my salad before our appetizers or with my meal. I choose to have it come with my meal.
Our appetizers came up quickly and I was rather surprised by the giant basket of pickle slices I received. Lady A and I did them justice, but wow.
The pickles were tangy, sliced into rounds and coated thinly with batter before frying. They were complimented well by the ranch and easy to pop into your mouth. I found them difficult to resist, deciding "oh, just one more" several times.
Lady A's fried green tomatoes were gorgeously plated, each slice fried with a coarse crumb coating and topped with a relish of onions, bell peppers, and pickles that was sweet with a hint of vinegar. The relish was delicious but completely overwhelmed the more delicate green tomato flavor.
As we ate, I kept shifting awkwardly in my chair. Deep chairs with rounded backs, they were very comfortable for leaning back in and chatting. However, sitting all the way back put me too far from the table to easily eat. So I would scoot forward to eat and then find myself scooting back because I was missing the back support.
As promised, my salad (shown at the top of this post) came out with my pasta. It was an overabundance of food and we were suddenly shuffling dishes to find the room. My salad was simple, romaine topped with a tomato wedge and a single thick slice of cucumber, sprinkled with a mixture of rye and garlic croutons. The lettuce and tomato were fresh and the cucumber slice had a lovely crunch. The croutons, which I suspect were housemade, lent a punch of flavor. Atop it all sat the dressing, creamy, bright, and flecked through with bits of raspberry.
My serving of pasta was enormous and topped with the requisite alfredo sauce, a grilled chicken breast, and a sprinkling of powdered Parmesan. I was a bit surprised by lack of visible grill marks on the chicken. In the photo, I can see light lines but in person, under the umbrella's shade, they were not apparent. The pasta was cooked well, leaning just past al-dente, but not into mushy, soggy territory. The alfredo sauce was thick and creamy with a wonderful richness. It is very easy for alfredos to slide into being thin sauce, one that does not want to stick to the flat, broad sides of fettuccine noodles. This one easily steered clear of that hazard, viscous enough to stay firmly attached to the noodles as I lifted them to my mouth.
The chicken was left unseasoned, which worked as it let the Alfredo sauce carry the day. I would have prefered that it had been cooked just a hair longer though, as the interior still had a slight pinkish hue.
The roll was generously sized, soft, but with a bit of spring back, and a lovely yeasty flavor.
Lady A enjoyed her meal as well. She was especially appreciative of the fresh veggies and the fact that the casserole was clearly made from scratch.
The food at Main St. Cafe was delicious, my only quibble being with the chicken on my pasta. Service was friendly but spotty, with our servers becoming more and more scarce as the lunch hour wore on. It was difficult to catch their attention for the to-go boxes, and then another odd pause to get the check. Our server did kindly offer to run our checks up to the register so that we could continue talking at our table instead of standing in line. The atmosphere was pleasant, and it's a great spot to meet friends or have a meeting over lunch. I will absolutely be back.
Total for the meal: $20.77 (included fettucini alfredo with chicken, fried pickle appetizer, and one soft drink)
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