I never visited Alice's Restaurant, memorialized by Arlo Guthrie in one of the longest folk songs ever written, but this is how I imagined it: A lush, tangled garden outside. A plankboard front porch with a rusting aluminum glider and an eclectic mix of comfortable chairs. Inside, cozy rooms filled with a personal collection of knick-knacks -- children's paintings, old linens, mixed-up tableware, worn lace curtains. Soft lamplight suffuses the barely lit rooms. Neil Young croons overhead. And everywhere, the scent of fresh-baked pies, warm and brown. In the kitchen, a huge bowl of rising bread dough perched on the ledge behind the stove. A daily menu written on a chalk board.
You may not be able to "get anything you want," as the song says, but you can get some decent home cooking, some stellar baked goods and a good deal of comfort at Amy's Bakery and Café, a new restaurant in a little blue house at 15th Street and West Colorado, about halfway between downtown and Old Colorado City. Amy's physical space loosely resembles the description above. It feels like home but you don't have to do the dishes or the cooking.
Breakfast is thick slices of French bread French toast, sprinkled with confectioner's sugar, a stack of pancakes or a plate of eggs. One morning I was there for breakfast and two customers in a row came in for a morning meal of coffee and a fat slice of Amy's chocolate mocha cake ($2.50).
Lunch can be a packed sandwich or one of two daily specials. Lasagna ($5.95 with salad and roll) appears regularly on the menu board, and one day the posted special was a Swiss, spinach and scallion tart. I watched it emerge from the oven -- an enormous rectangular baking pan with an overflowing pastry crust around the edges, the center grass green. On a recent cool, wet day the lunch special was meatloaf with sweet tomato gravy.
But here's what Amy does best: Light flaky turnovers filled with sweet cream cheese or blueberries, heavenly strawberry-rhubarb pie without a hint of bitterness, airy coffee cakes streaked with cinnamon brown sugar streusel, dense pumpkin apricot pound cake.
Hmmmmm ... maybe you can get anything you want.
-- Kathryn Eastburn