What a charming place, interesting concept and what good home cooking we found when we went to Creative Artists Cafe recently. My friend Tommy is a business owner and an artist, and recently saw an ad for Creative Artists Cafe in a local shopper type coupon book. We were in the general area on a Saturday night and decided to give it a try. It was a nice find.
Creative Artists Cafe is owned and operated by the city of Lake Helen. It's goal is to provide high quality and reasonably priced meals in a family friendly atmosphere, and to use the profits to fun various artistic and education programs for citizens of all ages. Wow, what a nice idea. Judging from our visit there the other night, they are doing just that.
We were there late on a Saturday night. It was not busy, there were a few other people there finishing their meals, but we were promptly greeted and seated. I'm not quite sure how to describe the atmosphere--it's somewhat theater-ish, somewhat diner-ish, and definitely small town-ish. Quaint, for sure.
We were told they had a special that night in addition to their normal prime rib special--shaved prime rib for $8.95. That sounded great and we both ordered it.
Tommy started his meal with a cup of vegetable soup. I had a sip--it was indeed delicious and tasted home made. It was very good. I started with a salad. It was a very basic and ordinary salad, but was fresh and crispy as a salad should be. Nothing special, just a good salad.
But then our entrees arrived. Thin-sliced prime rib was covered with a mixture of onions and mushrooms (and if desired, peppers) and that was topped with a brown gravy. It was delicious. The onions and mushrooms were cooked well but not overcooked. None of the food was over salted, it was seasoned plainly, but in such a way that the flavors of each element came out. For my sides I had macaroni and cheese--it was good but pretty standard--and cole slaw. The thing that amazed us about the cole slaw was the portion. None of these tiny plastic containers containing an ouce or so of cole slaw, this was a good sized bowl, well over half a cup, and it was tasty, not overly sweet. Tommy had a baked potato with his meal and commented how it was cooked perfectly, not overly dry and pasty as if it had been sitting in a warming tray all night, and not hard and undercooked--just cooked just right!
All in all this was a good meal and a value for the money. Our total bill which included two entrees, two iced teas, a cup of soup and a side salad, was less than $24, a real deal. I will admit that I stuffed myself and ate all of mine. My friend Tommy was much smarted and took some home for another day--the portions were a very nice size.
Lake Helen is a bit out of the way for me, but I'd certainly eat here again and will definitely recommend this little gem of a community effort to anyone who wants some good home cooking. Oh and by the way, the breakfast menu looks good and quite inexpensive. I may just drive up here some Sunday, just because!