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20 from town, no frowns

BY ISABELLE ROBLES | JULY 30, 2015 5:00 AM

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I love going out to eat, but I find myself cycling through an Iowa City restaurant rotation week after week. After probably having all menu items at my downtown favorites, I realized I needed to branch out and find some other delicious nourishment not too far from home.

The challenge? Find at least one breakfast, lunch, and dinner place (all of which happen to be interchangeable and just as delicious) 20 minutes (or so) from town. Whether it be traveling down the wide roads of North Liberty we don’t find ourselves accustomed to downtown or getting a “nice view of all the corn” as my grandfather said, it’s surprising what different paths can lead you to.

Breakfast

For a breakfast as good as your grandma serves with kindness to match, head on over to Ronneburg Restaurant, 4408 220th Trail, Amana. The 30 minutes is most definitely appreciated after indulging in the traditionally large but delicious breakfast.

This $11.95 meal is served family style with fruit, toast of your choice, eggs done your way, smoky ham, crispy, crinkled bacon, griddled potatoes, and paper-thin pancakes that still manage to be as moist as fluffy as can be.

When our kind waitress brought out the foot-wide pancake coated with powdered sugar alongside the fruit to start she explained that the restaurant was famous for them, and I can see why. It’s spongy, soft and sweet, and the crispy edges are the perfect surface for the smooth, homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam.

After the pancake come the eggs, meat, and toast, the perfect way to balance the sweetness from before.

Lunch

Upon arriving at Sushiya, 745 Community Drive, North Liberty, for a late lunch, I was immediately greeted by a friendly host welcoming me with a smile. This positive attitude was carried by everyone working there throughout my visit. Everyone is friendly and polite and seems genuinely proud of their restaurant, and for good reason.

The area is on the smaller side as compared with other sushi restaurants in the area but not over-crowded. It’s clean, cool, and simply decorated. The cool temperature and clean design immediately allowed me to feel comfortable.

As it had lunch specials going, I chose the sashimi lunch box for $10.50. With a bowl of miso soup to start, the foot-long box was filled with salad, a heaping pile of cold edamame, six pieces of Philadelphia roll, and seven cold slices of sashimi. The slices were about a quarter of an inch thick, soft and never stringy, making it some of the most refreshing sashimi I’ve had in the area.

With great deals, friendly staff, and great quality food, I will be tacking on an extra 15 minutes to my drive whenever I crave some sushi.

Dinner

Kalona Brewing Co., 405 B Ave., Kalona, is a homey, yet modern brewery serving bar food with a classic twist alongside its original brews.     The restaurant is spacious and rustic yet simply decorated, something I found impressive, because rustic décor can often come across gimmicky.

The hop backs and stout tanks used to make the eight beers featured on the menu, along five additional guests, add authenticity of good, homemade product to the aesthetic that is then reciprocated in the food.

The $8 cheese curds are a must. The appetizer is a heaping platter of curds, with a crusty-edged batter, soft in the interior and spiced to perfection.

For the main course, the meatloaf for $12 is my top pick. The loaf is fresh as can be as it is appropriately filled with herbs to add depths of flavor. The huge two-slice portion is worth your buck alongside the pile of the warm, creamy homemade beer mac and cheese and grilled vegetables.

Take those extra 20 minutes to spend your evening beside the tanks and among the hug of a big plate of refined comfort food.


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