Diner: Main Street Cafe satisfies from morning to night
Bzzzz. You roll over in bed, trying to avoid the inevitable (ending your restful slumber). That pesky alarm refuses to go silent, so you reach for the "off" button rather than the "snooze" ... only because you know what's waiting for you on the other side of the bedroom wall. Breakfast.
Mornings are a challenge for most of us, regardless of the breakfast ahead. Most days, it's tough to make time to whip up a gourmet feast before 7 a.m. Enter Main Street Cafe and Bakery in Ankeny, a fast casual bistro that offers an expansive, fairly light menu from morning (the drive-through opens at 5:30 a.m.!) to night (sangria and sweets are served until the kitchen closes at 9 p.m.).
Open since last May, this haven in the middle of chain territory has since been one of the few local options for dining out in this quickly growing corner of the northern suburb.
The panini-warmed #6 breakfast sandwich with ham, spinach, egg white, sun-dried tomato aioli, and white cheddar cheese on multigrain bread ($5.99) is one of those toasty, ooey-gooey meals that would inspire you to get out of bed a few minutes quicker in the morning. The creamy aioli and salty cheese make it stand out from the fast food breakfast sandwich crowd. The zesty fajita chicken scramble ($7.95) is a better choice than the somewhat underseasoned garden scramble with toast ($7.75), although both make for protein-rich starts to the day. While the avocado pieces in the garden scramble attempt to make up for the lack of yolks, the egg white base can't keep up with the peppery Mexican mix.
Taking into account the quantity of homemade pastries, cakes, cookies and breads that Main Street's bakers turn out on a daily basis — especially on Saturdays, when they pull double duty at the cafe and the Ankeny Farmers Market — it seems like they never sleep. With everything from gluten-free scones and candy-topped doughnuts to sky-high cakes and cupcakes topped with an inch of frosting, you'll need some serious will power to walk by the display case if you dine in. Luckily, you can order at the counter, grab your order number to display on your table and promptly beeline to a seat across the large, airy dining room if you're trying to avoid the temptation.
But I don't recommend doing that when you can snag something like the almost-nutritious monster protein bites ($2.99). Rich on peanut butter and M&Ms, two larger-than-golf ball desserts come in each bundle. After splitting an order with my pal, I wanted to grab another pair to snack on after my next workout.
The monster bite protein powder most likely doubles in the just-a-bit chalky triple berry protein smoothie ($6.49). Instead of the pricey drink, stick with the bites or one of the 10+ egg scramble options that are available all day for your post-gym protein. (Note: Some of the morning flatbreads and breakfast sandwiches are unavailable after 11 a.m.)
Later in the day, Main Street's friendly, young staff delivers dishes like the better-than-Panera strawberry poppyseed with chicken salad ($9.25) that makes for a fresh and filling lunch when paired with a fresh-baked baguette. The naan in the Greek chicken flatbread ($8.45) is too tough to cut with a knife and with creamy tzatziki sauce it makes for a messy handheld meal, but the flavors are refreshing and the pizza-like dish is a nice kid-friendly pick.
Overall, the cafe's menu is nothing revelatory or remarkably new. Still, there's likely something for everyone in the family, even if the family includes picky eaters or those on restricted diets. You won't leave surprised, but you'll leave satisfied, awake and motivated to take on your day. Especially if you have a cupcake waiting for you on the other end of your 9 to 5.
Main Street Cafe and Bakery
Critic's Rating: ★★1/2
Address: 2510 White Birch Drive, Suite 1 and 2, Ankeny
Atmosphere: The clean, window-lined dining room includes booths, tables and leather accent chairs for comfortable seating whether you order drinks or an entire meal. A patio offers additional space when the weather cooperates.
Sound: Chatter ranges from quiet to moderate, making the cafe a safe spot for studying.
Recommended dishes: Strawberry poppyseed with chicken salad, fajita chicken scramble, monster protein bites
Drinks and wine: In the morning, stick with smoothies rather than the watery coffee. Come dinnertime, beer and sangria are better choices than the juice-like wine.
Open: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily (drive-through opens at 5:30 a.m.)
Wheelchair Access: The dining room is accessible via a ramp from the parking lot.
Reservations: Not accepted
What the stars mean:
★★★★: (Extraordinary) Transcendent. A one-of-a-kind experience that sets the local standard.
★★★: (Excellent) Superior. Memorable, high-quality food; exciting environs; savvy service; smart concept.
★★: (Good) Solid example of restaurant type.
★: (Fair) Just OK. A place not worth rushing back to. But, it might have something worth recommending: A view, a single dish, friendly service, lively scene.
No stars: (Poor) Below-average restaurant.
Karla Walsh is a digital/social media manager at Meredith. Follow Walsh on Twitter at @DatebookDiner and on Instagram at @datebookdiner and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.