When our friends Shad and Paige called us early one Saturday morning and asked us to try a new-to-us breakfast place, we were stoked. Some of the wind blew out of our sails, however, when we discovered it was located in Dunfee. Dunfee? “Where the heck is Dunfee?” Jon and I echoed.
Typically, we stick to small cafés within our ’05 neighborhood. Reluctantly, we rolled out of bed and made the 25-minute trek west via Illinois Road to West County Line Road and discovered the cutest restaurant and storefront I’ve ever seen, Pickles Café.
Located in the heart of Dunfee (ha!) and housed within an old building that served as a general store dating back to the late 1800s, Pickles Café and Plumtickled Junction General Store is worth the drive. As we pulled up, I literally squealed with delight. The shack-like building is Americana at its finest, complete with unfinished weatherworn wood siding, a hitching post and rocking chairs strategically placed on a big front porch. Behind the restaurant is an adorable shed housing a shop selling plants, antiques and other vintage knickknacks.
Entering through the side door we were greeted by the café on the right and the store on the left. We put our name in and began exploring the antiques, old fashioned candies and homemade jams and jellies sold in the store. It also sells local, USDA-approved, all-natural, 100 percent grass-fed beef by the pound, an exciting find for us.
Within minutes our name was called, and we were ushered into the cozy back room. With room for only seven or eight tables, it was a bit cramped, but that enhanced the experience, in my opinion. Tables are decorated with vintage tablecloths, and a window through to the kitchen allowed us to watch the cooking staff make magic. It felt like being at home – if my home were a model for shabby chic decorating.
For those who like dining outdoors, Pickles offers seating on the back porch – just perfect for a summer lunch.
Pickles’ owner Kim Shear opened the restaurant a few years ago and has transformed the menu. One can expect traditional American diner fare like hamburgers, French fries, fried chicken and mashed potatoes, but what they’ll find is hummus sandwiches, wraps and panini sandwiches. We popped in for breakfast, and I was impressed with the unique menu. We all ordered something different and had the opportunity to try the Hippy Hash, an egg casserole-like dish made with eggs, cheese, potatoes, cilantro, tomatoes, onions and spinach; biscuits and gravy, a generous serving of savory gravy over two perfect biscuits; and the French toast special, a bowl full of ooey gooey toast smothered in cinnamon, vanilla and peaches.
The dishes came out in heaping servings, with a side of fruit and sweet hot dill pickles. I was absolutely blown away by the complexity of flavors in the French toast and can’t wait to go back again to sample another variety – they switch up the French toast special every week. The biscuits and gravy were exceptional, just the right amount of salty and spicy to complement the fluffy biscuits, and the Hippy Hash balanced the sweetness of the French toast and the salty of the biscuits and gravy.
Pickles is also famous for its pies, and on the day we visited there were over a dozen freshly made options from which to choose. My husband and I opted for the oatmeal pie simply because we had never had it before, but we plan to go back to try the variety of fruit pies available. The oatmeal pie was a savory sweet treat that we enjoyed later that afternoon.
I highly recommend adding Pickles Café to your list of must-try breakfast and lunch spots. Though it’s a bit of a drive, you won’t be disappointed.
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June 20 • The Clyde