IOWA CITY — Peter Kessler has always loved Iowa City’s Northside district and its adjacent historic Goosetown neighborhood.
“I like its tempos … It has always been a neighborhood that provides something different to downtown proper. It’s a little bit slower paced; you can get more of a neighborhood feel,” he said.
The former general manager of Motley Cow Cafe, once a Northside mainstay that closed a year ago, he decided to open his own restaurant. When a location opened up in the former Northside Bistro at the corners of Linn and Market streets, he knew that’s where he wanted to be. After some renovations to the space, Goosetown Cafe opened June 20.
With both Hamburg Inn and Bluebird Cafe a stone’s throw away, Kessler said he thinks Goosetown is a good complement for what the neighborhood already offers. Both those diners often sport long waits on weekend mornings, so he said he thinks there is room in the market for another breakfast and lunch-focused spot.
“I knew I always wanted to do breakfast. I function better in the mornings,” he said. “And you know if you show up on the Northside, you can get breakfast.”
His menu is “a little more vegetable driven, with different presentations,” he said.
That includes egg scrambles, like the mushroom ragout scramble with cherry tomatoes, goat cheese and chives or a scramble with chorizo, avocado and spinach. Goosetown also serves up grain bowls, with wheat berries, farro and quinoa, topped with things like tofu, pickled red onion sesame, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers or the bibimbap pork bowl.
“You’re meant to get your fork in there, stir it all up and get all the flavors,” Kessler said of the grain bowls.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Sandwiches, salads and sweets like brioche French toast and Dutch baby pancakes round out the menu. The cafe also offers coffee, tea, beer and cocktails, with plans to start offering a weekends-only dinner menu this weekend, as well as a small menu of late-night bar food after the kitchen closes at 10 p.m.
Kessler said he wanted the menu to be unique, with fun touches like housemade pop tarts.
“There’s a quirkiness I wanted to capture,” Kessler said. “Breakfast is inherently conducive to that style of menu and service, to playfulness.”
The interior of the space features an open dining area around a central bar, with ample sunlight from big windows facing Linn Street.
Kessler said he hopes his venture becomes part of the fabric of the neighborhood.
“So often in restaurants, we serve food, we serve drinks, and we ask you to pay a tab and go. I think the larger mission of restaurants is creating a welcoming place, a community center, a place to connect,” he said. “That’s what I wanted to accomplish with this place … There’s nothing more rewarding than providing sustenance and food for people.”
l Comments: (319) 398-8339; firstname.lastname@example.org
If you go
l What: Goosetown Cafe
l Where: 203 N. Linn St., Iowa City
l When: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday to Saturday; 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Wednesday (closed Tuesday)
l Details: (319) 351-1924