Boasting a menu that changes seasonally, the Cafe is doing food right in Ames. Located in the Somerset section of town, this upscale eatery stands out amid a handful of other neighborhood restaurants, and the chef takes obvious pride in using locally sourced ingredients. Meats are grilled over a wood fire, creating a mouthwatering aroma. Inside, there’s a cafe area serving coffee and sandwiches, a dimly lit main dining room and a sleek little secret bar in the back. Bartenders know their stuff—highlighting specialty cocktails like caipirinhas and sangria.
The menu isn't huge, but it’s full of thoughtful and appealing choices. Appetizer selections take in lamb meatballs ($8.95) and freshly made guacamole that arrives with both chips and veggies for dipping. The jerk chicken entree ($14) featured expertly cooked chicken redolent of cloves and spice beautifully presented on a bed of black beans and rice with a swirl of mango coulis. Sandwich options include beef shawarma, banh mi, a grilled cheese with pumpkin seed pesto and a Cafe burger (most running between $9 to $11). For dessert, the chocolate-covered almond opera cake is sheer decadence.
The Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.