Saturday, May 21, 2011

If People Tell You…

that it takes a full day to tour the Lincoln Museum--believe them.

But sometime during the day, you are going to want to refortify yourself with lunch. You could stay in the museum and eat at the Subway. But when you have a tour guide with remarkable knowledge of the local dining scene (That’s you, Dora.), you have a wealth of options.

And where better to “strap on the feed bag” than at The Feed Store. “Former political organizers with a penchant for great food, husband and wife team Ross Richardson and Ann Laurence opened The Feed Store in September, 1977. Having become older, grayer, plumper, and balder in the intervening 33 years, they continue to coordinate and nurture their business. Their son, Daniel Laurence-Richardson, has recently become manager of the restaurant…In 1989, the restaurant moved into its ‘new’circa 1865 building…located at the entrance to the Old State Capitol…The rehabbed Lincoln-era building is listed on the National Historic Register” (from the café’s menu).

The Feed Store is a popular lunch spot for downtown Springfield workers and the café was still bustling when we arrived at about 1:00 p.m.

You place your order with a woman standing by an enlarged menu in front of the counter. Some on-line reviewers made reference to “soup Nazi” when talking about the order taker. Ridiculous. The woman we spoke with was friendly, patient, and knowledge-able. Some folks just like to complain.

The décor can best be described as enchanting. Still intact is the original pressed tin ceiling--this one more intricate than most.

An antique Hoosier cabinet serves as a work station.

The tables and chairs are warm wood.

And the wallpaper evokes the Lincoln era. What a wonderful setting for a restorative lunch.

The menu is centered around soups, salads, and sandwiches with soups assuming the starring role. (Explaining all of the references to soup Nazis.) On the day of our visit, the choices were French potato, mushroom bisque, cream of broccoli, beef barley, tomato bisque, and Wisconsin cheese. All except for the beef barley (barley isn’t my thing) sounded wonderful. For me, the choice was easy—a cup of the mushroom bisque. The bisque had a medium thick cream base and was loaded with woodsy mushroom slices. Most of the slices had sunk to the bottom of the bowl, but we did try to liberate a few for this photo. This was so good that I almost wish that I had ordered a bowl. But then I would have been too full to eat anything else.

Both Chuck and Dora ordered the French potato, which was a creamy puree of potatoes, onions, and celery that resembled a warm vichyssoise with onions replacing the traditional leeks.

Now for the main course. Chuck chose the pastrami on soft seeded rye. The beef brisket had been coated with cracked peppercorns which brought a slightly spicy flavor. The pastrami had been sliced thin and the meat had a small amount of fat to make it flavorful and keep it moist.

For Dora, it was veggie cream cheese on a bagel with alfalfa sprouts and red onions.

I had trouble making up my mind. I wanted The Upper Crust sandwich with a blend of cream cheese, olives, carrots, celery, dill and chives with sliced turkey and tomato. I wanted the Cuka, Swiss, and Philly Sandwich with veggie cream cheese, Swiss cheese, sliced cucumbers, and alfalfa sprouts. I wanted The Plaza—a luncheon-sized “house salad” with Boston leaf lettuce, Parmesan cheese, dried cherries, sliced red onions, and croutons. And I wanted—and ordered—the Lox-Ness Monster.

This was beautiful thin-sliced North Atlantic salmon served on a bagel with cream cheese and sliced red onion. To start, the bagel was first-rate. Not too heavy, but nice and chewy. And the salmon was New York deli thin and absolutely succulent.

Since we knew that dessert was in the offing, both Dora and I took half of our sandwich in to-go boxes, which we hid in our purses. (No food is allowed in the Museum.) So, for the rest of the afternoon, we exuded the aroma of eau de onion as we walked through the museum exhibits.

The three of us decided to share a slice of the chocolate raspberry cheesecake.
And believe me, this was so rich that it took all three of us to eat it. A heavenly rich chocolate cheesecake mixture was set on a chocolate crust and then engulfed in a puree of pure raspberries. The rich cheesecake needed the tart berries to offset the richness.

What could be better? A mid-day break with great food and wonderful company in an historic setting. Truly a 5.0 Addie lunch.

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