Feeling a chill in the morning air, I decided to take advantage of the remaining warm weather days by venturing up to Rocky Mountain National Park for some wildlife photography. Anticipating the taxing nature of this adventure, I sought ample morning sustenance with friend Tertia and her family at Andrea’s Homestead Café on the main drag in Lyons.
Trendy is not how one would describe Andrea’s, which possesses a homey, hospitable air. We sat out on the comfortable porch, which faces away from the main street, making for a more peaceful experience than I had anticipated. The ambience is a cross between old-school hunting lodge, complete with big game trophies, and the home of a relative who moved here from Europe. Indeed, this establishment has a definite Teutonic influence, as evidenced by the ample selection of dinner menu schnitzels (15 is my limit on schnitzengruben) and old-country bric-a-brac.
The morning menu features standard bacon-and-egg repasts with such flourishes as German-style breakfast potatoes (which aren’t all that different from home fries) and smoked pork chops. There’s also a nod to the American Southwest, with some dishes highlighting vegetarian green chile. The spirit of family friendliness is reinforced by having items such as French toast and pancakes available in child’s portions.
Upon entering, I couldn’t help but notice a small stack of cherry turnovers, dusted with powdered sugar, resting atop a silver platter. My initial reaction to this offering was analogous to Yogi Bear’s response to an unguarded picnic basket. Fortunately, my friends restrained me from running off with the platter, although we did request some of these $2.50 treats as soon as we sat down.
Served with cups of strong coffee, these pastries did not disappoint. Sure, the filling was likely canned fruit, but that didn’t prevent us from enjoying the juxtaposition of the fruit’s tart and sweet qualities. The crust was in a class all by itself — flaky, delicate and possessing more layers of thin pastry than one might have thought possible.
Tertia and her mom, Pat, enjoyed similarly Southwestern entrees, the $10.50 Santa Fe Muffin and the $9 Huevos Rancheros. The muffin was a variant on the Benedict, consisting of a muffin topped with scrambled eggs, sausage, cheese and green chile sauce. The huevos was similar, swapping out the muffin for corn tortillas, and sans sausage. Each of these choices was amply sized, and the chile stood out for having a peppy flavor that wasn’t unpleasantly spicy.
Like all other dishes, the $9.50 biscuits and gravy, touted as a house specialty, was solid. While Andrea’s version didn’t break any new ground, it did offer up a gravy that was neither too salty or overly muddled with flour. The biscuits had a decidedly rough-hewn texture reminiscent of homemade, and the overall effect was predictable but comforting. Add in the included scrambled eggs, and I had enough energy to ascend Long’s Peak.
If you’re seeking fancy locavore fare and boutique coffees, Andrea’s isn’t the place for you. If you want a solid American roadside breakfast with subtle German twists, you’ll be more than happy. You might find similar meals for a buck or two cheaper elsewhere, but you might not experience the hefty portions or enticing baked goods. You’ll also miss out on Andrea’s Old World charm.
Clay’s Obscurity Corner Not a hot dog
My introduction to the concept of Wiener Schnitzel came from the Der Wienerschitnzel fast food chain, which actually didn’t serve Wiener Schnitzel, but instead featured frankfurters. Wiener Schnitzel is a boneless piece of veal or pork, sometimes flattened by a rolling pin, and breaded and fried. Austrian law requires that Wiener Schnitzel be made from veal, and one can only imagine the legislative debates on that issue. The traditional presentation includes a lemon slice with a side of potato salad or spuds dressed in butter and parsley. While popular in Germany and Austria, it’s thought this dish originated in Italy.Andrea’s Homestead Cafe 216 E. Main St., Lyons 303-823-5000