Memorable | One of the Best
Review by: Michael Stern
You can’t make a reservation to eat at Cafe Strudel, but you can call ahead and put your name on the waiting list. If you plan to come during normal mealtime, especially breakfast, and even more especially weekend brunch, make the call. This little coffee house cafe just across the Congaree River from the city of Columbia often has more customers than seats. Its second location, opened in Lexington in May, 2018, can be even more crowded. (309 South Lake Drive. 803-490-0895)
Not all such conspicuous popularity signals something good, but in this case, the buzz among locals and enthusiastic foodies is justified. Cafe Strudel is a casual, come-as-you-are place, but its standards are lofty and the meals it serves are a cut above. Everything on the menu is made from scratch using the best (mostly local) ingredients. Shortcuts are not taken and meals are not quick. Every plate is prepared to order.
Best dish: namesake apple strudel. When you order a piece, it is sliced from a large loaf. It is buttered and slowly grilled so the apples caramelize, the fine pastry turns crisp, and the whole package delivers intense warm pleasure that reminds me of a great Parisian tarte tatin.
Other indications of kitchen virtue: Grits are stone-ground Adluh brand, from a Columbia mill that dates back to 1900. If all you know are watery white grits, these are a revelation: thick, rich, and earthy, wonderful with nothing more than a crown of butter, even better when mixed with vivid-personality cheese. Breakfast meats are nitrate-free. Beef is local and grass-fed. Orange juice is squeezed to order. Croissants and biscuits are baked in house. The coffee menu and cocktail menu are both voluminous and intriguing. There are draft beers, craft beers, and ciders. Prices are reasonable. Portions are large. Nothing is ordinary at Cafe Strudel.
|Meals Served||Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner|
|Credit Cards Accepted||Yes|