Tables that can accommodate big groups and cozy, home-cooked meals evoke a sense of camaraderie inside Old School Cafe. Chicken noodle soup, reuben sandwiches, creamy mac and cheese, and biscuits galore populate tables. A giant burger stacked high with bacon, cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce is held together by a steak knife stabbed through its middle. The creative endeavors continue with desserts, including bear-shaped cookies and cupcakes topped with maple bacon or toasted marshmallows.
Just as the name implies, Farmer’s Daughter Bakery and Cafe is family-owned-and-operated, serving up fresh portions of grains, soups, and salads straight from the garden. Every item on the menu is made in-house, and all processed foods are told to take a hike to see if a natural activity will help cleanse their system. Grab a friend or scurvy-plagued 18th-century merchant-sailor and double up lunchtime feasts with a bowl of the daily homemade-soup special coupled with a green salad (a $6 value each).
The Cup Cakery's sugar mavens custom-bake lavish cupcakes, tiered delights, and all manner of cakes to order. A gourmet cupcake is perfect for swaying the judge in a bribery trial ($2/each), and a dozen hot-fudge sundae cupcakes can unite the entire jury ($21). Bakers layer cake upon cake to create tiered sweets ($45+) for bridal showers, baby showers, and meteor showers. The shop also stocks rentable cupcake tree stands and silver cake bases to display sweets ($10–$30 plus deposit), as well as chocolate suckers, cookies, and brownies to broaden confectionary diversity. Home bakers can stock up on baking supplies such as icing emulsions, satin fondant, candles, and a plethora of decorations ($0.99–$17.99).
At Lorenzo's Bistro and Bakery, the bakers make their own dough from scratch for crusty breads baked on the hearth. Every day, visitors can stop in for the warm baguettes, challah, and french bread, as well as daily specials such as Sunday's cracked-wheat loaves.
But the bread is just the start of the culinary journey, which executive chef Wess Rose executes with an eye toward contemporary American dishes and Euro-American influences. Elegant steak, seafood, and pasta join surprise touches, such as the chefs' take on a louisville hot brown—smoked shaved turkey breast atop fresh challah bread topped with tomatoes, cheddar jack mornay sauce, crispy bacon, and chives. Charbroiled salmon fillets glisten with raspberry barbecue glaze, and marinated portobellos and vegetable medleys stuff puff pastries to create vegetable wellingtons, which are topped with pesto and feta.
In the restaurant's foyer, the staff mans a market where people can grab cups of coffee or pick up ready-to-eat entrees to take home. In addition to the breads, customers often drop by to pick up muffins, scones, and sandwiches for meals on the go that are tastier than oatmeal in a tube.
Each day at his candy shop, Mike Libs simmers sugar, cream, and butter in a vat before pouring the syrupy mix onto a steel slab and kneading it into fudge. He mastered this old-fashioned candy-making technique under the tutelage of his parents, who opened their chocolate store, Libs Chocolates, in downtown Evansville in 1950. Now at his own shop, Mike upholds his family's legacy by preparing classic treats such as peanut brittle, cream-filled chocolates, and edible busts of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Similarly, his sunlit storefront nabs motifs from his parents' candy shop, with red- and white-striped display cases to match servers' bright-red aprons.
Hailed by Evansville Living readers as having 2011’s Best Chicken Salad, Maxine’s Cafe and Bakery appeases local appetites with a diverse selection of handcrafted salads, sandwiches, and sweets. Each day, pastry chef Terry Spindler dispatches armies of lemon bars, chocolate-dipped macaroons, and baklava to the upper level of his chockablock bakery case ($0.75 each), where they oversee tortes ($3.50–$3.75 per slice), whole cakes ($34–$45), and sugar-free specialties ($1.60–$3.75) awaiting purchase or skirmish. All fresh menu fare is built from the ground up, with a savory spotlight on cold salads such as Maxine’s curry chicken salad—one of three house chicken salads—which tosses white meat chicken, golden raisins, and celery in a curry mayo dressing ($7.99/lb.), and meatless eats including dill potato salad, with red bliss potatoes, celery, and sweet onion enveloped in a dill-mayo dressing ($6.99/lb.). Deli sandwiches stuffed with Boar’s Head ham and turkey also stand prepared to foxtrot their way into needy bellies ($5.85).