We were traveling to Nashville and my wife's alarm clock in her stomach went off somewhere near Effingham, IL and I knew that we needed to stop sooner than later or it wouldn't be good for me. I clicked on the GPS to look for restaurants in the area and it showed that we were about four miles from a place called Five Brothers Cafe. We came to the exit for Salem, IL, got off there and I took a right going away from town. About a mile or so down the road, we came across Five Brothers Cafe on the left. (see map) It looked rather new and somewhat clean, so we gave it a shot.
There's not much information on Five Brothers Cafe on the Internet. There doesn't seem to be five brothers that own the place - Agim Mehmedi is the only guy that was listed as an owner. They don't have a web site, but they do have a Facebook page. But it appears that it hasn't been updated in well over a year. It's just one of those places to eat in a sleepy Midwestern town.
We took a seat along the wall in one of the many booths they have throughout the restaurant. Tables and chairs dot the floor in the middle of the building. The booths were comfortable and the place was well-lit. Five Brothers Cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner opening at 6 a.m. and closing at 10 p.m.
Our server, Kelly, came over with some menus. Most of the food at Five Brothers Cafe is the typical comfort food variety. But they also had Mediterranean offerings including gyros on the menu.
I didn't have any breakfast so I was sort of hungry. The first thing that caught my eye on the menu was the hot beef sandwich. I didn't even look at anything else. I figured that it would be tough to screw up a hot beef sandwich. I closed the menu and waited for Kelly to come back.
Cindy was a little more judicious with her choice. She didn't know whether to get a salad or sandwich or a burger. When Kelly came back to take our order, Cindy finally decided on the spinach salad with a housemade poppyseed dressing. With my hot beef sandwich, Kelly said that I also got a salad and a side of green beans. I got French dressing on my salad. (The French dressing was actually more of a Russian/Catalina sweet tasting dressing - the kind I really like.)
After I went through my salad pretty quickly, Kelly brought our food out to us. The hot beef sandwich featured two half slices of bread with an ample amount of sliced roast beef covered with a thick brown gravy. The mashed potatoes were off to the side - some places will incorporate the potatoes with the roast beef. The green beans were chopped and there was plenty of them.
Cindy's spinach salad featured a number of chopped onions, sliced mushrooms and cucumbers, and tomato wedges. The poppyseed dressing was in a small serving boat. Cindy was dipping her greens into the dressing and she said, "This dressing is really good!" We had a small basket of dinner rolls on the table and I took one and dipped it into the dressing. She was right - it had a sort of sweet/vinegary taste to the dressing and was very good.
My hot beef sandwich was good. Not outstanding, but certainly not bad at all. The beef was tender and there was a lot of it. I couldn't tell if the potatoes were real or potato flakes - Cindy took a bite of them and declared they were "out of a box". I thought they were all right, though. The gravy was thick and flavorful. And I was sort of surprised that the chopped green beans were also fresh tasting. They weren't over-cooked and still had a little snap when you would bite into them.
Sometimes you get lucky in trying to find places to eat while you're traveling. I kind of think that way with Five Brothers Cafe. The place had a good atmosphere, it was clean, Kelly's service was very good, and the food was above average. It was one of those places that pleasantly surprised us. If I were going to give Five Brothers a grade, I'd give them a B+.