by Tex Beltz
Hello TF Readers, and thank you for checking out my new monthly feature “Spoon & Fork” a new section to highlight some of our most beloved as well as new and interesting local eateries. You may have enjoyed my writing in TF previously with my art and music reviews, but food has always been my day job. I am a trained Sous Chef with over ten years of culinary experience. I’ve done everything from wash dishes to build menus. I hope that I’ll be able to share some of that with you in the upcoming issues.
My first edition takes me to Bracy’s Café (formerly Just Desserts by Mom) at 505 Francis street. Located just a block down from the courthouse and state building, Bracy’s appears to be by all accounts quite the daytime hotspot for the downtown business crowd. Opened by Brett Dalby and Tracy McCrea in 2015, “Bracy’s” as its now known, is famous for fresh handmade desserts, pastries, and pies. But don’t let that mislead you, because they also make amazing homestyle food with portion sizes big enough to satisfy the most ravenous mid-day appetite. I stopped in shortly after 12:00 to find an almost full dining room, with several carry-out orders crossing the counter over the course of lunch service.
The succinct menu (>30 items) covers mostly standard American Continental diner fare, with a nice selection of simple offerings for both breakfast and lunch. Sandwiches and Salads seemed to fill many of the tables during my visit, however they offer hearty daily specials as well. I’m told their Thursday special (Hand Made Tenderloin) is by far the most popular. Tracy suggested you pair that with their from scratch Coconut Cream Pie.
I was fortunate enough to arrive on Wednesday, when the special is Meat Loaf which I cannot deny is one of my all time comfort food favorites. While there are several common ways to present Meat Loaf, I do prefer a tomato based sauce in accompaniment as opposed to brown gravy. I was very happy to find that was the case at Bracy’s. There was a slightly sweet, crisp crust outside the perfectly cooked meatloaf. I was able to taste bits of red bell pepper, garlic and onion that balanced the sweetness of the glaze just perfectly. The main dish was served with a from scratch macaroni and cheese which had just the right amount of moisture and salt balance, and green beans, prepared in a classic Midwestern fashion with a beef stock base, minced onions and salt and pepper.
All together I felt like I was having my Mom’s food again, which is exactly what I think Bracy’s hopes for your experience there. It was just right. Delicious and I could have licked the plate if I didn’t have better manners. Tracy and Brett also hope that the people of St. Joe “Return to downtown. Come and see and be willing to try what there is to offer.” I can say whole heartedly that I’ll be returning here to spend my local dollars, and I hope many of you do the same. Now if only they had a $2 cheeseburger…I’d probably camp on the bench out front.
Bracy’s Café 505 Francis, St. Joseph MO
open M-F 7a-2:30p, Sat 8a-12p CLOSED Sunday.