Restaurant review: Bass Creek Cafe is an out-of-the-way treat
AFTON—For those inclined to work up an appetite before eating (and to work it off after), Bass Creek Café in Afton is a wonderful biking or hiking destination.
With our lovely Rock River Parkway Trail, you can leave a car at the trailhead at Janesville's wastewater treament plant and head toward Afton on Peace Trail. The trail ends before you reach the café, so you have to ride or walk on the highway for the last 200 yards or so. One way, the trip is about 2.5 miles.
For those just looking for a homemade meal, this is the place. Bass Creek Cafe is situated on a bend in the road, so if you blink, you may miss it. It is a quaint little restaurant in an idyllic country setting with an old red barn in the rear of the building and a large swath of grass with a tire swing to the right—perfect if you're dining with antsy little ones.
There are several pub tables on the front porch. On a beautiful day, this is the place to sit if you want to hear the sound of birds or the occasional car passing by, or if you want to carry on an intimate conversation with friends. Outdoor speakers provided an unobtrusive background of relaxing jazz and folk tunes.
The interior has a welcoming, neighborly feel. Prints and photographs—mostly with a country theme—adorn the walls. As you approach the counter to place your order, you have to pass the café's bakery case filled with homemade pies, cinnamon and pecan rolls and a delectable selection of other sweets.
It was a chilly Saturday morning, so we decided to dine inside. As we waited for our food, we chatted over coffee and rolls.
Helene ordered her usual latte, but Jennifer had a tough time choosing a drink because the list went on and on. She opted for the sugar-free hazelnut iced coffee, which was not overloaded with hazelnut but was sweet with a robust coffee flavor.
I kept it simple and enjoyed the Bass Creek fresh-ground coffee blend, which offered multiple refills with which to wash down the yummy bakery rolls.
The “sin-a-mon” roll ($2.49) was fluffy with a light icing, not the typical heavy frosting.
The caramel sticky bun ($2.99), which was more of a pecan roll, was Helene's favorite. With a dense bread that was a bit chewy, it was the perfect base for the caramel and pecans.
We also shared a half order of biscuits and gravy ($5.25/$6.50 full). If you like a little heat, for a dollar more, you can order them with a “kick” of jalapeno.
We went with the classic version, and it was a hit. Even I liked them, and I am not usually a fan. The gravy was smooth, and the crumbled sausage was tasty, as were the homemade biscuits.
The menu, while not large, is sufficient. Be sure to check the specials board. I did and ended up ordering a breakfast special. The scrambled eggs were good, and the potatoes were outstanding.
Helene chose the spinach, tomato, mushroom and Swiss cheese frittata ($5.50), which came with fruit and a biscuit. Served on an attractive plate surrounded by a slice of cantaloupe, some grapes, an orange slice and a country biscuit, the presentation was appealing and appetizing.
Covered in Swiss cheese, which was the prominent flavor, the frittata was flavorful, juicy and filling. And Helene finished all her fresh fruit as well.
Jennifer was overwhelmed by her hunger and had quite a time deciding what to order. She finally decided on the Afton omelet ($7.55). Light and fluffy, this three-egg omelet was stuffed with sausage, grilled mushrooms and onions, crispy hash browns and cheese. It was phenomenal. Velvety cheddar topped it off perfectly, and her choice of honey wheat toast was an ideal complement.
Nikki ordered the Monte Cristo sandwich ($6.45), which also was served with artfully arranged fresh fruit. A decadent savory treat, Bass Creek's interpretation of the sandwich featured two slices of French toast, egg, ham and Swiss cheese—grilled, not deep-fried.
Afton has got a wonderful jewel of a coffee shop that is worth a visit. It's the kind of place where you just want to hang out and relax with friends—like a “Cheers” of cafes where everyone seems to know your name.
And did we mention that everything is homemade?
The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.