One More Bite

The WacoFork Blog

Thank you, lord, for Texas: Monument Cafe

July 8, 2011 | Chad Conine | Profiles
Thank you, lord, for Texas: Monument Cafe

For me, ordering a chicken fried steak is the dining equivalent of picking a fight.

You see, like many of you out there, I've already eaten as good a chicken fried steak as I'm ever going to eat. Those past steaks of lasting glory were prepared by my mother and my grandmother. They were perfect in that the breading perfectly combined with the steak. There was absolutely no negotiating in order to keep the entree in one piece. That's the whole trick, but it seems to be a difficult one.

So when I order a chicken fried steak, I'm actually saying "Go ahead and show me exactly how badly you can mess this up. How far will you fall short of the greatness of those chicken fried steaks of yesteryear?"

Today, I lunched with my friend Jeremy Webb at the Monument Cafe in Georgetown, Texas. The Webb family has eaten and raved about Monument Cafe in the past, but somehow I missed those outings. I'm caught up now.

Upon entering the Monument Cafe, it's intriguing to observe the multifaceted vibe. The aroma reminded me of one of those great cafeterias where my family often ate Sunday lunch in the 1980s. Luby's or Piccadilly. But instead of a buffet line, Monument Cafe takes the form of homestyle-meets-swank diner. It's the kind of place that begs you to order something meringue.

Instead, I threw down the gauntlet. Chicken. Fried. Steak.

Did it measure up to my mother's and grandmother's chicken fried steak. Of course not. But I would say it's in the top 5 percent of all of those other chicken fried steaks. The breading stuck in there pretty well, though I did lose most of the bottom half. That's not bad. I've eaten chicken fried steaks in the past where small vermin could have lived between the meat and the batter.

Actually, Monument Cafe really distinguished itself with its sides. I chose onion rings and fried okra. Both were delicious, especially the okra, which was obviously made from pretty dang fresh produce.

Jeremy chose catfish, which I view as the theoretical opposite of chicken fried steak. I believe fried catfish is difficult to screw up.

We each received a biscuit as a free appetizer. I'm still attempting to limit the amount of actual bread (or tortillas) I consume. So I took a pinch of the biscuit and dabbed it with a little butter. It was difficult to resist gobbling up the rest of the biscuit, but I managed.

One More Bite: Located on Austin Ave. in Georgetown, Monument Cafe is only about an hour from downtown Waco. Another choice dining locale in the same area of Central Texas is the Walburg German Restaurant in Walburg, which will soon be featured in another "Thank you, lord, for Texas" blog.