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Good Food!

The Place to Go for Breakfast

Restaurant: Midvale Mining Cafe
American Classics, Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Location: 390 W. 7200 S., Midvale (Map)
Price Range: $1.75-$35
B+ — See Foodie Report

I had not been to the Midvale Mining Café for quite some time. (It was still Midvale Mining Company, last I knew.) And some of the things have changed. For one, they have reupholstered the booths, which was kind of nice, embroidered with the company logo, soft and without cracks or holes in the vinyl. (The latter had been the case the last time I had been there.) It was Sunday, and the place was just hopping busy. Nonetheless, I was seated quickly, and ran into some friends that were also just out for something to do that would get them out of the house without making a mess (it was raining cats and dogs outside). Also due to the rain, there was a smell in the place. I can't identify it, but it was clearly a result of something being wet. Fortunately, the smell was toward the front door, and I was seated toward the back, in one of the adjoining rooms. There were too many tables not yet bussed, but they were very busy. And the one I was seated at was wiped down and dried off, not leaving me with wet forearms.

In fact, I was seated so quickly that I didn't even have a chance to look over the specials board. So I asked the waitress what they were, and she rattled off three or four things very quickly, including telling me which of them she thought was the best: the Steak and Eggs. I asked her why, and she said, "It's pretty good. And you can't beat the price." I couldn't argue that point, and went with her recommendation, ordering the steak well done, the eggs scrambled, white toast and gravy on my hash browns. I know, I know, if you watch Food Network, they never order their meat well done. But I have issues with the texture of meat when it's undercooked. And a good cook can make it well done without turning it into shoe leather.

Although the Midvale Mining Café is more like a family restaurant, I couldn't help feeling like I was in one of the more high-end (and higher priced) restaurants downtown. There was a certain energy there, due in part to the place being packed to the gills, where you had to lean in close to speak to anyone, which I find enjoyable when having a good meal.

My food arrived quickly, which had me worried. That usually means that I have to send my steak back to be thrown back on the heat. But it looked OK when first sat down, and she gave me a bottle of steak sauce, although I didn't ask for it. (I never do. If the steak is good, you don't need it.)

So I cut into the steak to inspect it, and found that it was only slightly short of well done (more like medium well), but I was OK with that. So I was good to go on my meal.

First words out of my mouth after first bite: “Good steak. Well cooked. No need for steak sauce here.”

I have to admit that the flavor of the steak was a very pleasant surprise. I am a steak snob. I don't order it out much because, nine out of ten times, what I'm served is not as good as what I cook for myself at home. It was well seasoned, and cooked almost the way I wanted it, without making it tough or dry. Good for you, whoever was on steak duty.

My eggs were done well without being runny or scorched, and the gravy on my hash browns had chunks of sausage in it (not just white stuff with bits of pepper). The hash browns themselves were very good, also, with enough browning to give them a nice crunch, where so many places tend to serve something more like a limp noodle.

The waitress came by often, keeping my soda glass full, and it was, overall, a very nice meal. That can't be emphasized enough, now that I think about it. Being a server is really about making your customer comfortable. And a big part of that is never having an empty glass. There are plenty of servers at more high-end establishments that could learn something from my server at Midvale Mining Café.

Last words when finishing the meal: "Steak is safe here."

On my second visit, I actually hadn't been planning on stopping. It was early morning and I wasn't planning on breakfast, but their sign out front said that they had Ham and Eggs on special for $6.95. So I stopped.

And I did not regret it.

I was seated immediately and, surprisingly, the place was half-full, even though it was only 8 a.m. However, the tables were all bussed and wiped down, a single gentleman appearing to do the job within seconds of the patrons leaving. It was actually pretty impressive to see how much he was there, on the spot, even when he was putting in time at the register ringing people out before they left.

Again, I was seated so quickly that I didn't even have a chance to look over the specials board, but I didn't need it — or the menu, for that matter — because I knew what I wanted. The waitress came promptly, I ordered the Ham and Eggs Special with white toast and eggs scrambled, and she was off again, moving fast and furious, just like everyone else seemed to be. People came and went, but the staff was running in high gear, a well-oiled machine. Again, I was impressed.

My food arrived quickly and I was immediately impressed.

First words out of my mouth: “Wow. No cutbacks, even when it's a special.”

The ham was half of a ham steak. You know, the ones you buy at the store packaged singly. This was half of one. The plate was a heavy, white ceramic with muted gray marbling in it, but I had to look at it from the side to even notice, because there was so much food on my plate. One of my qualifiers for a good restaurant is quantity, and this was certainly a good omen. So I cut off a piece and took a bite.

First words out of my mouth after first bite: "Oh, yeah. I love a good ham steak."

The ham was good quality, loaded with salty, pork goodness. There was a hint of smoke, and I was drifting away to my happy place. As much as I love sandwiches, my favorite meal of the day is breakfast, and a good piece of ham like this was one of the reasons why.

My eggs were a touch underdone here and there, but was still edible. The hash browns were browned to a nice crunch, and they had grape jelly on the table for my toast. Yet another thing to make me achieve my life-is-good feeling.

Again, I was taken aback by how well trained the staff was at Midvale Mining Café. Tables were being bussed promptly, the waitress came by often to keep my glass full, and the food was just plain old good.

Last words when finishing the meal: "Worth it for a good, sit-down breakfast." Foodie Report

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     food·ie (fd)
     noun. Slang.  A person who has an ardent or refined interest in food; a gourmet.