I must be the last person in Des Moines to have heard of Baby Boomers Cafe. Even the relatives from out of town had heard of the place that serves “Obama Cookies.” So, when I had the chance to drop by for lunch it seemed like a good chance to get some good food. After all, if Obama likes the cookies it must be good. Given the age of most “boomers,” I wondered for a bit if the food might be puréed, but no, it’s real food. You can find Baby Boomers Cafe tucked away in the far southeast corner of the East Village.
The ambiance and decor are kind of a slightly post-modern mashup of the cafe, diner, and coffee house themes. The place has an airy feel with high ceilings. There were a number of people eating the day I dropped by and I suspect that more than a few were legislators given that they had that lonely, hunched and souful look that politicans get when they don’t have anybody around to appreciate them. There were also the usual dystopian urban Xgener marketing/media/I.T. castaways huddled together drinking coffee while plotting to create the next Groupon. Apparently the name of the restaurant did not chase them away. Actually, the presence of actual paper and pens and the lack of constant texting leads me to think that they were from the I.T. subclass and not members of the constantly twittering media/marketing types.
Since it bills itself as a cafe, I decided to try the Philly Cheesesteak. How well a cafe can make a Philly Cheesesteak is my litmus test for a cafe. I have a similar “tamale” rule for Mexican restaurants. How was it? Well, first of all, it is about the most expensive thing on the lunch menu at $7.00. There was plenty of meat but not enough cheese for me to think “cheese“steak. More cheese, more cheese, more cheese. There. That did it. For $7 I would have preferred a bread bun with more substance than the Rotella-sourced bun that it came in but it did the job. Given some of the blog rants by a local chef with a long bushy beard about how Des Moines food critics should not constantly compare Des Moines food to a meal that the critic once had in the south of France, I won’t compare this Philly Cheesesteak to ones you can get at 1237 East Passyunk Avenue in a certain town out east. My dining companion had the Rachel, which was described as very good.
The place seems to offer a good alternative to the mix of food destinations in the East Village area. The East Village does not have any other short-order “diner” style restuarants that come to mind, though it does have a good selection of high-end sandwich places (Noodle Zoo), pizza, asian, and fancier fare restaurants. So, this is a good place for a simple straight-forward meal if you happen to be in the East Village. The “Obama Cookie” is not my style of cookie, but it may be just what you are looking for. I may write my thoughts on what makes a perfect chocolate chip cookie some day. Of course, any chocolate chip cookie that has no walnuts or raisins in it is likely to get a thumbs-up from me. I did not try any beer with this meal, but I see that they serve Millstream, Blue Moon, Fat Tire and seasonal Sam Adams beers. Since it was so cold that day, I opted for the hot chocolate.