Nestled in at the edge of the shopping distrinct of upper NE Fremont is the quaint Cool Runnings Cafe, owned and operated by Cal Ferris and his wife. The character and food of the place, while inspired by the Islands, is varied and lends itself nicely to flavors from many regions, particularly those of the American South.
Cool Runnings Cafe has been open since August of 2002, but has been serving dinner only since early 2003, which I feel is their true calling. They have a limited but suitable wine and beer list, as well as some non-alcoholic beverages.
I was impressed with the food from the very start. Cal brought out some of their homemade bread with some spiced butter, which was fantastic. Somewhat nutty and peppery, the bread was very good. For the main course, I had the Gumbo, which was packed with chicken, andouille sausage and a bit of okra, as well as a full rich flavor. A little spicy, I kicked it up a fair amount with their homemade pineapple-habanero sauce. Very nice, I found myself wanting to take some of the sauce home…but instead I’ll try to make something that tastes half as good. Nedra had the jerked chicken, which was also quite flavorful. I pilfered a fair share of her garlic mashed potatoes as well, which had a nice rustic texture…the potato hadn’t been butter and milked out of them, offering up a rich, well-textured side.
The service was excellent, and while I can’t say that they were particularly challenged during our visit, both were very friendly. After thoroughly stuffing myself on Gumbo and corn bread, Nedra needed a taste of dessert. Hearing the list, I nearly had to order my own…raspberry cheesecake topped my list, but we order the mixed berry cobbler instead, which was just fine and dandy. It was a deep dish of warm sweet and sour berry goodness, with a bit of biscuit and orange mixed in for some pizazz.
Overall, I very much enjoyed the Cool Runnings Cafe, and will be returning. They had nice options for spicy and mild tastes. The atmosphere was pleasant. Portions were ample, and prices were reasonabIe ($8-12 entrees). My main critique is probably their Starters menu, which struck me more as a list of sides, primarily salads and greens. I don’t think it will take them too long to outgrow the small space they are in now.