Most of the ill-mannered quips at the Cafe Rude are found on the
cartoonesque menus surrounding the kitchen. One sign snaps, "Hey we got waitresses . . . go sit down." Another, to underscore the spicy flavorings on some of the specials, brags, "Member of the Utah Heartburn Association."Clever flyers used to promote such special events as the Reggae Sunday brunch, with dred lox and bagels, proclaim the Cafe Rude as, among other things, the place "where the rich go to twitch . . . the hip go to flip . . . (and) where the well-encrusted cut the mustard." One barb on a blurb captures the snide spirit of Cafe Rude - "Yeah . . . so what's it to ya!?"
None of this ad hokum is translated into either the service or the fare we sampled on a recent weeknight visit, unless you count the ever-present waiter or chefs. They always were within earshot, because of the open kitchen, kibitzing our party as we mulled over our decisions before ordering our entrees. On several occasions they made comments from different areas of the eatery's small interior like "Hey that would be good, some just came out of the oven . . . try that, it's great." This hardly seemed rude; just a bit informal.
As our attentive server exclaimed, almost with a touch of embarrassment, the Cafe Rude really derives its name from the forcefulness of some of the dishes, like the spicy Cajun chips (95 ), "rude" chicken wings ($3.50 for a dozen) or the wildly hot and offbeat jalapeno peppers ($1.95), deep fried and stuffed with peanut butter and cheese. This one dish seemed to more accurately reflect Cafe Rude's raison d'etre and creative flair.
There was more balanced spiciness with the carefully crafted egg roll ($1.50). The filling had a hint of hot along with salty soy sauce and perfectly crunchy sauteed vegetables. The vegetarian chili ($2.50) was also nicely prepared. Four different beans (I even saw the chef count them out of four different bags during a lull in the evening) are blended with sauteed onions and a lively red chili. Dishes were served with tabasco sauce and the red chili sauce often served with Vietnamese cuisine.
Other dishes include a quiche cake ($2.95), a fluffy dish topped with crunchy baked apples; half a dozen wontons; and several sandwiches like the black and blue turkey burger ($4.25), chili cheese turkey burger ($5.25), and a hot snow crab and cheese sandwich with sauteed mushrooms and green peppers ($8.95).
The eclectic, some might say off-beat, specials were intriguing and wonderfully done. Of the three we sampled, the snapper and spinach lasagna ($6.95) was the clear favorite. Served piping hot, it was bold and appetizing. The salami lasagna ($5.95) was highlighted by a rich tomato sauce. A milder but somewhat contrasting dish was the pasta special, a large platter of linguini in a white wine sauce accented with garlic, tarragon, fresh tomato and bacon pieces.
Other choices include Thai chicken curry ($6.25), shrimp scampi ($7.95), veggie primavera with marinara sauce ($4.95), and shrimp and crab Alfredo ($9.25). Pasta entrees come with a few meager slices of garlic toast; for a few dollars more I would recommend a very large green salad, topped with the house vinegar and oil dressing and chunks of blue cheese. Four of us shared the ample serving.
Several homemade desserts are featured including apple pie and cheesecake. Neither the apple pie nor chocolate swirl cheese cake was available; but a cheese cake ($1.95) topped with a slightly sweetened mix of berries concluded our meal with a delightfully civilized touch.
Cafe Rude represents an interesting trend among some restaurants across the country. Its creative, somewhat off-beat cuisine in an informal, actually inexpensive setting (barely renovated Taco Bell) lends itself to a stimulating dining experience.
Rating: * * * *
Cafe Rude, 961 S. State St., 595-6660. Open Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Sunday, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. No credit cards; checks accepted with guarantee card.