The Bonnie Kate Cafe: comfortable perfection

Mystery Diner • Nov 9, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Brunch is getting to be a regular weekend affair for the dine-around bunch. I chalk this up to the onset of curmudgeonhood on my part. We curmudgeons are partial to variety, and the choices available on a brunch menu appeal to me more that those on a simple breakfast or lunch menu.

Take this week, for instance. The dine-around bunch had several birthdays fall within days of each other, so we all got together and had brunch over at Elizabethton’s Bonnie Kate Cafe. Now, I’m of an age that I can remember the Bonnie Kate as a great little hometown movie house that showed first-run films in comfortable surroundings and had excellent theater yummies, all at a reasonable price. The place has been a fixture in Elizabethton since the 1920s and is still going strong, thanks to the efforts of owners Cindy and Brian Higgs.

The dine-around bunch arrived just before 1 p.m. on a Sunday. Though the place was packed, with reservations in place, the wait staff had us seated in under three minutes.

Looking over the menu, I spotted a Greek Chicken Wrap ($6.95) that sparked my interest, and even more so when I substituted onion rings for just a dollar more. Our Carnivore surprised us by opting for breakfast fare, specifically the French Toast & Blueberries ($5.24) with a side of bacon, while the Dieter ordered the Chicken Pesto Panini ($7.95) with an order of house-prepared potato chips.

My dining partner’s hankering for a stack of pancakes and a big slice of country ham ($5.24) was waiting right there on the menu. Lastly, our Retiree ordered the Bonnie Kate Mandarin Salad and added Grilled Chicken ($7.75) with the raspberry vinaigrette dressing.

As we were waiting for our orders to arrive, I took note of the dessert order that the family of six at the next table had placed: two slices of cake with six forks. I’d heard about the Bonnie Kate’s reputation for scrumptious desserts, which was confirmed when their order arrived. Each slice looked to be 9 inches high, 6 inches wide and weigh at least 2 pounds. The whoops engendered by their arrival foretold a quick disappearance of same. While flashing cutlery was being displayed in close proximity, the dine-around bunch at table five were dining with refinement.

My Greek Chicken Wrap was packed with moist grilled chicken breast, a spring mix of vegetables, onions and Kalamata olives. The Greek dressing was evident but not overpowering. The onion rings were a treat; a thick-sliced sweet Vidalia gave its all for me, beer-battered and deep-fried to perfection. I usually add ketchup but these were so good I didn’t need to.

The Chicken Pesto Panini made its way around the table, and all agreed that it was excellent. The Carnivore was busy demolishing his still-life of cinnamon-sprinkled French Toast, bacon and succulent baby blueberries, each bite topped with just a smidge of maple syrup. I was offered a taste but declined; Greek dressing and maple syrup’s a flavor combination I’m not anxious to try.

Meanwhile, my dining partner sneaked a bit of her country ham onto my plate. A quarter-inch thick and sugar-cured, it complemented my meal quite nicely.

The star entree of our brunch had to be our Retiree’s Mandarin Chicken Salad. Plated up. Chef Higgs’ presentation was a feast for the eyes; a sliced, grilled chicken breast on top of a layered salad of fresh greens, dried cranberries, walnuts, feta cheese and plump mandarin slices, with the raspberry vinaigrette. In a word: “Masterful,” and easily the hit of our get-together.

Service by the Bonnie Kate Cafe’s wait staff is punctual but not obtrusive. Our bunch didn’t partake of the Bonnie Kate’s dessert menu, leaving that for a future visit. All of their menus are available for scrutiny at their website. Yes, they do supper as well as takeout from their bakery, and the cafe’s got live music on Friday and Saturday nights. The theater’s got special events going in addition to their regular movie schedule. This week’s is a special showing of the classic audience participation film, “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” I wonder if I can find and still fit into my old Riff-Raff costume?


The Bonnie Kate Cafe, 115 Sycamore St., Elizabethton

Phone: 423-297-1054

Hours: Mon.—Sat. 7 a.m.—3 p.m.

Fri. 5 p.m.—9 p.m.

Sat. 3 p.m.—9 p.m.

Sun 11 a.m.—2 p.m.


Live music Fri. & Sat.

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