Cross Roads Bistro

I was in the mood for something new for breakfast. I remembered there was a small place up on J St. It used to be Willy Woodburn’s Cafe which was a very popular diner/cafe as I understand it. I never made it there before the owners retired and sold the restaurant.

The new name is Cross Roads Bistro. The first thing I noticed when I pulled into the parking lot was a glowing neon beer sign in the window and an unlit neon sushi sign. I immediately had second thoughts. Maybe I was at the wrong place? But it was open. I decided to go for it anyway.

Upon entering the front door there was a placard welcoming me to Cross Roads, serving Chinese, Thai, Sushi, American, and Breakfast food. Well that explained the sushi sign. The decor is worn but classic American diner on the right side, sushi bar on the left. There was only one other customer. Staff was cleaning and suggested I sit on the left side of the restaurant rather than at a table on the right side. I didn’t want to sit at the bar with the manager so that meant wedging myself into a tiny two top booth.

The menu looked good. Nothing jumped out at me for breakfast. They have an interesting take on eggs Benedict serving on biscuit halves instead of English muffins. Sounded very Southern to me. The lunch and dinner portion of the menu really intrigued me especially the Thai sections. Looking at the all female staff I noticed none of them looked remotely Asian so I wonder if the have at least different kitchen staff in the evening.

I opted for the Western Shipwreck. As I think I have explained before, a shipwreck seems to be the Iowa equivalent of the breakfast skillet. This was steak, green peppers, onion, black olives, hash browns, jack cheese, guacamole, salsa, sour cream. I had them hold the green peppers and guacamole. It appeared that they probably fried the steak on the flat top, then added the eggs because the eggs appeared to have been fried in a meat fat. Had that brown coloring to them, Extra flavor but not a pleasing aesthetic. I could hear her working the spatulas in the kitchen like she was making a Philly cheese steak sandwich. I think she was working my shipwreck because the eggs had a minced quality to them. Everything tasted great but not my favorite texture for eggs. I did appreciate the black olives were still cold. The marble rye was good though I wished buttered more. Oh well, I didn’t ask for any extra butter.

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I will definitely return. I want to try more breakfast items, especially an omelet. And I’m very interested in trying some of the Thai offerings.


Shipwrecked at Riley’s

Our last day in Cedar Rapids before we move permanently. It was time to get something besides the hotel breakfast buffet (which was quite good by the way, but the same thing every day). I had scoped out two places nearby. After I failed to find the the first I headed toward Riley’s Cafe. I had passed this place numerous times while driving around the hospital. I thought it was a bar.

Parking was scarce on the street but they did have limited parking in the back. We snagged the last spot and entered through the back door. My kind of place! This is the stereotypical midwestern breakfast place. Reminded me of Dad’s in Three Rivers. Everyone here is local, everyone is a regular. Cheap decor, cheap food, big helpings. Love it. We have one similar place back home that I don’t like but that’s because of the seating.

And seating was almost a problem for us. The center of the restaurant has a near communal seating which I don’t like, not back in Georgia, not here. I guess I’m just not that friendly. But we found a booth in the corner window up front. Ordinarily I never sit at booths because I don’t fit. I hate booths and I hate that I can’t fit in one. I took a gamble on this one. It was tight but I managed.

I don’t know if there was more than one server working the whole front or not. As forgetful as she was, it too several requests for my wife’s coffee, I think she may have been covering alone. But she was friendly and helpful.

The Nine Year Old ordered chicken and waffles, no syrup, no gravy. It came as two chicken tenders on top of a Belgian waffle. Exactly what she had hoped for! She said the waffle was awesome. She didn’t finish the tenders but I thought hey were pretty good as far as chicken tenders go.

The wife got some kind of combo. Came with biscuits and gravy. This was a big test for Riley’s since she is a full blooded Georgia girl. And they failed. Miserably. She said the biscuit was OK, not made from scratch. She ate it with jelly. The gravy she deemed inedible. I have to agree it looked repulsive. Gloppy and glue like.

I ordered the Tex Mex Shipwreck. Shipwrecks seem to be a Cedar Rapids thing. I’ve noticed at least four other restaurants advertise a shipwreck for breakfast. Down south it would be called a skillet, except that it is served in a bowl rather than a cast iron or clay skillet. Mine had slices of rib eye steak, onion slices, sliced jalapeños, black olives, and tomatoes, and then it is topped with cheese sauce, black beans, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, green onions. Can you say awesome!!!! It would have been better with melted cheese rather than the Monterrey Jack cheese sauce that they use. I couldn’t finish it though it was so much food. I’ll be looking forward to more shipwrecks in my life.

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Tex Mex Shipwreck