The perfect remedy for the whipping wind and swirling sleet that welcomed us on this Super Bowl Sunday in Minnesota? Breakfast.
We came to a slow stop along the snowy street of Capital View Cafe, tip toed out of the car, and crossed the slushy threshold to the curb. We shuffled into the restaurant, immediately entering a wide dining area that spanned three rooms. Straight in front of us was a traditional diner counter topped with an old-fashioned cash register. Several teenage servers stood behind the counter and signaled to us, apparently encouraging us to seat ourselves. We passed the counter and headed into the second dining room, sliding into a bright red, plasticy booth in the back corner. I used my only napkin to clear the remnants of a past diner off of the pleather seat on which I was about to sit. I’m sure I looked a little posh, but I wasn’t about to get grime on my ass.
Soon, a young woman brought us a couple of cups of water coffee and, when she left us after being rather shocked we weren’t ready to order, we perused the menu. The breakfast menu is large, with loads of sections, subsections, and options within those subsections. Though many of the meals are similar, there are lots of variations and much fine print to read. After a full menu investigation, I narrowed it down to the Huevos con Chorizo ($8.49) and my breakfast partner selected the Country Fried Steak ($9.79). We placed our orders and soaked up the hometown diner feel of the place. There were few other diners, but those that were joining us were either senior citizens or full-blown families still in their pajamas. As two young women both dressed in skinny jeans and heeled booties, we stood out just a tad. And pausing before sitting down to clean off the booth didn’t really help.
When my meal arrived, I can’t say I was terribly excited. I was terribly hungry, but my stomach churned when I saw my plate. A mound of scrambled eggs packed with peppers and chorizo sausage sat next to a load of hash browns and a slop of refried beans (which were sprinkled with cheddar cheese that I meticulously peeled off the beans and into a napkin). The eggs were sticky, clumping around each piece of sausage and hanging on for dear life. I ended up forcing down the mixture for the benefit of the protein, but didn’t enjoy myself while doing so. When I moved on to the rest of the meal, I found my hashbrowns to be undercooked and my refried beans unflavored. Thankfully, my coffee was just watery enough to wash down the meal without interfering with the various breakfast flavors. Though my hunger was satisfied, I ended the meal with a mild stomachache.
My friend’s country fried steak came smothered in sausage gravy and shared a plate with hashbrowns, eggs, and cinnamon raisin toast. Her overeasy eggs were rather greasy and more fried than over easy. The hashbrowns were nice and crispy on top, but again quite greasy underneath. The toast, on the other hand, was a little dry. She noted that the steak itself was decent. The gravy was thick and creamy as it should be and the steak was nicely fried and crunchy on the outside while maintaining a tender and flavorful inside. Overall, she thought it was a pretty expected meal for a hometowny place: not terrible, but not a standout. In the end, we agreed that homestyle cooking and dining just tends to be less fresh, unique, and carefully cared for when compared to our favorite, more modern venues.
You may notice this narrative is minimal and rather apathetic. That’s kind of how I felt about this morning’s experience. Capital View Cafe served up a greasy, traditionally homestyle breakfast. And though the service was generally cheerful and the menu offers a solid range and variety, the food simply isn’t good enough for the prices you’ll pay. It may be a hometown favorite for some, I’m just not one of them.
Coffee Quality: 5
Food Quality: 5
Quality of Service: 8
Menu Variety: 8
Overall Satisfaction: 5
Parking: street parking
Average Score: 6.5
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Capital View Cafe
637 South Smith Street
St. Paul, Minnesota 55107