Probably the longest standing “to do” place on our list has been Breitbach’s Country Dining in Balltown, Iowa.  We first hear about the place back in 2007, before we even lived in the Driftless Area.  Breitbach’s was featured on Alton Brown’s awesome, but directionally challenged, Feasting on Asphalt: The River Run.  (I say directionally challenged because it would make so much more sense to travel down the Mississippi and end in Louisiana eating etouffee, then up the Mississippi and end with Lutefisk in Minnesota.)  Complicating our longstanding plans to visit Breitbach’s was the fact that since we heard about it, it burned to the groundTwice.  Both times it was rebuilt, however, and it is going stronger than ever.  More recently, it was featured in the documentary Spinning Plates:

As an aside, we’ve eaten at two of the three restaurants in Spinning Plates.  The third, La Cucina de Gabby closed down soon after the documentary was made.  Not an uncommon outcome for a restaurant to be sure, but it’s too bad the publicity from the film didn’t help them stay afloat.

Honestly, we went to Breibach’s just intending to have some pie.  But when we got there they had just started their Saturday buffet and we quickly caved.  We started off with relish-plate-like salads of  braunschweiger, pickled cucumbers, beets and carrots.  After that, we headed for the meats: battered catfish, fried shrimp, broasted chicken, and beef short ribs, served with corn and mashed potatoes and gravy.  Nothing fancy, but very well executed.  Precisely what Midwestern country cooking aspires to.  Oh– there was soup too, but we skipped it in the interest of dessert, since pie was our whole reason for being in Iowa.  We decided to share a slice of the coconut cream pie (I’m firmly in the cream pie camp, Leslie is a fruit pie apologist).  Rather then telling you about it, I’ll just show you this:


It was, in complete honesty, the best coconut cream pie I’ve ever had.  But if that picture doesn’t convince you, nothing I’m going to say will either.


Contrary to how it may seem from reading this blog, we don’t just eat.  On the trip to Breitbach’s we also stopped at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque, watched the last leg of the RAGBRAI pull into Guttenburg, enjoyed numerous views of the Mississippi River, and sampled some great honey from Cedar Creek Apiaries (oh, that’s food again, isn’t it?).


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