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Thursday, Feb. 17, 2005 07:31 pm

Many happy returns

Waitress Jody Winterbauer shows off one of the Morning Glory Café’s yummy pies.

Every once in while, you discover a small-town café or corner diner that just feels like home. You don’t mind if the menu doesn’t change much — there’s just something about the place that makes you happy. That’s how I feel about the Morning Star Café in Salisbury. Although the chicken crêpes and apple pie are worth the trip, it’s the rustic setting and backyard patio that keep calling me back. Now owner Pat Adamski has opened a second eatery in Menard County that exerts the same effect.

Adamski opened the Morning Glory Café in May on the square in downtown Petersburg (in the spot formerly occupied by the Old Lunch Pail). Although she has kept many menu items, she’s also added some of her own specialties that are served at her Salisbury restaurant.

The menu is pretty simple. There’s a daily special — for instance, quiche on Tuesday and Thursday, baked potato with toppings on Wednesday, taco salad on Friday — and two soups are offered each day, as well as homemade chili with black beans, which is a customer favorite.

“They come here for the chili,” Adamski says. Another favorite is manager Sue Kastelic’s carrot cake. “It moves fast,” she says of the dessert, which is made with raisins, coconut, pineapple, and pecans.

The café, which is housed in the same building as an antique store, is as quaint as some of the vintage linens and dishes for sale. It’s a great place for lunch but also a nice place for a cup of coffee and slice of pie after browsing. The menu and atmosphere will put you in mind of a tearoom, minus the silver tea service and petits-fours.

White-painted porch posts — which bring a little bit of the outdoors in and serve to separate two dining areas — and wooden tables sporting green-and-white-checked tablecloths set the tone. The front dining room is graced by large windows that provide a view of the courthouse and square. Tin chandeliers, lace curtains, wood-plank floors, and cream-colored paneling add to the homey feeling. The second dining area is located in the same space as the antique shop, so you can even browse from your table.

On the day I lunched there with my mother, I ordered the cream-of-potato soup and the chicken-salad sandwich, which was a scoop of perfection. The large mound of chunky white chicken meat was blended with just the tiniest bit of mayonnaise to hold everything together. No drippy, overdone dressing masking the chicken here — just crunchy walnuts and celery to provide a nice texture. It was served between two slabs of homemade wheat bread, which was nearly as good as the superb salad, and accompanied by chips and a pickle spear. (Other sandwich choices included ham-and-Swiss and Italian beef.) The creamy soup was studded with chunks of potatoes, celery, and carrots and given flavor by herbs.

Mom ordered the vegetable-beef-barley soup and the turkey-bacon club. The soup was a hearty broth full of carrots, green beans, and barley. The sandwich was a substantial and flavorful layering of smoked turkey, crisp bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, and tomato, served on that wonderful homemade bread.

Salads include a fresh fruit carnival salad, which is a blend of mixed greens topped with chicken, fruit, sunflower seeds, and almond slivers; a chicken caesar salad; a chef salad; and a garden salad. In addition to the carrot cake, desserts include a turtle sundae, cheesecake, and lemon, coconut, caramel-apple-nut, cranberry-apple, and cherry pies.

I can’t wait to go back.

The Morning Glory Café is located at 115 S. Seventh St., Petersburg; 217-632-9901. Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon.-Sat. Dessert is served until 3 p.m.

Heart-healthy recipes

February has been designated, among other things, National Heart Month, so the American Heart Association has released its first single-topic magazine cookbook.

Recipes for the Heart is devoted entirely to information from and about the American Heart Association, including recipes, information on its “Go Red for Women” campaign, and personal stories of women touched by cardiovascular disease and stroke.

The cookbook will be available in the checkout areas of grocery stores across the country until June 8.

A Lenten alternative

For those who get tired of eating fried catfish during Lent, El Presidente Burritos is offering a unique alternative — walleye burritos. Every Friday during Lent, the downtown eatery is adding a fish version to its impressive list of options. The new dish consists of a tortilla wrapped around walleye that’s basted in butter and a drop of hot sauce and topped with lettuce, pico de gallo and ranch dressing. The burrito is served on a bed of white beans. Other vegetarian options, such as black bean–and–avocado and vegetable, are also still available.

El Presidente Burritos is located at 235 S. Sixth St.; 217-544-9535.

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