Always on the lookout for places to have breakfast not far from home, my wife has been wanting to try a place in nearby Pleasant Valley, IA - Mickey's Country Cafe. We've driven by the place many times since they moved into their current location about three years ago. (see map) On a sunny Spring Saturday morning recently, we decided to head out to Mickey's to give them a try.
Mickey's Country Cafe is owned by the husband and wife team of Bill and Mickey Kosgard. Their daughter, Kelly Langston, helps out at the restaurant that's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week.
The Kosgard's opened their first restaurant in 1993 in Bettendorf and also operated Mickey's Valley Hall - a reception hall in Pleasant Valley - for a number of years. Fire damaged the reception hall twice over the years, the second one coming in January of 2011. The Kosgard's looked at that as a sign and decided that a change was needed. They were leasing the spot where they had their cafe and they decided to move their restaurant into the reception hall building that they owned. They moved Mickey's Country Cafe to Pleasant Valley in the summer of 2011. Bill - a former trucker - runs the kitchen, while Mickey runs the front of the house.
We pulled up to Mickey's around 9:30 that one Saturday morning and the parking lot was nearly full. We stood just inside the door while we waited for about 10 minutes for a spot to open up. We were eventually seated in a booth. Breakfast menus were dropped off and a server was around with coffee for my wife.
The decor at Mickey's Country Cafe would what I would call "faux antique". They had a number of signs that said things along the lines of "Will swap gossip for coffee", things that some people like, but it just makes me shake my head. The dining room was bright and roomy, it had seating in booths and tables for probably 100 people. It's the type of down home restaurant where the place mats have ads on them.
In addition to breakfast, Mickey's also serves a full lunch menu and a dinner menu - alcoholic drinks are also available. They're open most mornings at 5 a.m., closing at 8 p.m. Monday thru Thursday, 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. on Sundays.
While we were looking through the menu, the staff was hurriedly putting together a number of four-seater tables into one long table for a group of 20 that was beginning to filter in. And, of course, they were seated right next to us. And the young lady server that was going to wait on us was going to wait on them. We needed to make our minds up and quick.
They have a breakfast buffet at Mickey's Country Cafe. Cindy went over to check it out and came back with a report that it was like a "hotel buffet". "Scrambled eggs, small pancakes, fruit, the kind of things that you see at most hotel breakfast bars," she said. She decided to pass on that and get something from the menu.
There's nothing fancy about the breakfasts at Mickey's. It's pretty straight forward - eggs, biscuits and gravy, pancakes, omelets, French toast - the basic breakfast kind of food that you'd expect from a cafe. French toast sounded good to me and I saw that they have blueberry pancakes, so I guessed (correctly) that I could get some blueberries with my French Toast. I also wanted to try their corned beef hash, but they didn't have it as a side. But it turned out that they could get a side of it for me.
Cindy was in a quandary - she wanted to try their pancakes, but was leaning toward just eggs and bacon with hash browns. She ended up ordering the eggs/bacon/hash browns with toast, but then at the last moment she asked our server if she could get just one pancake. She likes her pancakes cooked well and thin. She makes her pancakes like that at home - I think they're the best pancakes I've ever had - and we've found that it's tough for a place to replicate her way of doing pancakes. Too often they come out too fluffy and doughy.
Our server was still taking orders from the big party seated next to us when another young lady brought out our breakfasts. Half of Cindy's plate was full of hash browns with cheese on top, the other half had two large fried eggs. Three pieces of thick bacon came with her breakfast.
The pancake was huge - it covered the entire plate. It was thin, but probably not cooked long enough for Cindy's liking. (It was cooked good enough for me, but she likes them on the verge of being burnt - same as her French toast when I make it for her at home.) It had a nice crispy edge. We both shared bites of the pancake and it was about as close to the ones that Cindy makes as home as we've had at a restaurant.
My breakfast, as far as looks, wasn't much. The French toast was made with Texas toast, so it was a little bready in taste. I got a small container of blueberries for a 75 cent upcharge. I don't know what they ended up charging me for the side of the corned beef hash, but it was enough for me to try. I didn't want a huge plate of the stuff. The French toast was all right, but lacked a little bit of pizazz that I was looking for. But it was rich and filling. The corned beef hash was a little salty, but not as salty as I've found at other places.
Between the eggs, hash browns and bacon - along with the pancake - Cindy was having trouble finishing anything on her plate. She ended up giving me a piece of the bacon which was thick and flavorful. She finished her eggs and made a dent in the hash browns. The corned beef hash I made quick work of, but I couldn't finish my French toast. It was a lot of food for both of us.
Yeah, I'd say we liked our initial experience at Mickey's Country Cafe. The value versus the amount of food we got was good. The food was fine for what it was - although I'll think twice about getting the French toast when we go back. And the service was fine, even though we were worried we'd get forgotten about with the large party taking up our servers time. But others pitched in an helped her out. Mickey's Country Cafe is one of those nice little down-home experiences that you'd expect in a Midwestern family-run cafe.