In any city in America, you can go out for Thai food, Mexican, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese or Italian.
But after 40 years of working in restaurant kitchens, Steve Libberton likes good old-fashioned home-cooked American food best. So he decided to start an American food restaurant.
That’s how Steve’s American Cafe and Grill came to the Red Barn building in Monroe, right on the corner of Woods Creek Road and U.S. Highway 2, where it shares a building with the Shell station there.
There, in a dining room decorated with American flags, retro license plates and blue gingham tablecloths, with a radio station playing that harkens back to the rural 1970s, Steve Libberton and his staff serve up American classics, all cooked entirely from scratch.
And that does mean entirely. Steve roasts bones and makes stock from them to create the base for the gravy on his pot roast. He likewise buys chicken necks to make the stock for his chicken and biscuit pie.
Even the dressings on the salad bar are made entirely in-house.
“I want to cook from scratch, old-school like I learned in the ’70s,” said Steve, a friendly man in his early 50s who moved to Monroe when his wife’s job transferred them back to Washington State.
And what he can’t make on-site, he buys from people who make it nearby, such as sausages and hamburger from a butcher in Woodinville.
“I’ve worked so many corporate restaurants, but that’s not really cooking,” said Steve. “It all comes out of a central kitchen; the sauce comes in a bag. I wanted to get back to cooking. That’s why I do what I do, and I thought Monroe was the type of town that would like it, too.”
The food on the menu is familiar, even nostalgic, and a great deal of it is comfort food.
The breakfast menu has made-from-scratch corned beef hash, hand-breaded chicken-fried steak with eggs and other classics.
The lunch and dinner menus include salads, soups, burgers, dinner plates and a selection of “comfort foods.”
Some of the food is customized just for Monroe. The “Bearcat Burger” is the most popular burger on the menu, and is piled high with cheese, bacon, ham, a fried egg and Steve’s own Bearcat sauce.
The comfort food menu is very popular, featuring baked mac and cheese with bread crumbs like grandma used to make, lots of foods that come with gravy like pot roast and a hot beef sandwich, and hand-breaded fish and chips.
And there’s a selection of sandwiches with favorites like a rueben; a turkey, cranberry and cream cheese; and a French dip.
For those with slightly more sophisticated leanings, Steve drew from his fine dining background to create several dinner plates such as a grilled chile lime chicken breast with a mango salsa.
The food is reasonably priced; an all-you-can-eat soup and salad bar is only $7.99, and most dinner selections are in the $12 range.
That leaves room in the budget for dessert, and Steve’s bread pudding, served with an apple jack cream sauce, is the single best-selling item on his entire menu.
And each day, he runs several specials, as well.
Since Steve’s American Cafe and Grill opened Sept. 5, he’s been getting raves on area Facebook pages.
And he is particularly pleased to have a great staff including top notch waitresses and a great kitchen crew.
He wants to make sure he is meeting the expectations of his guests, so he encourages guests to leave comment cards.
That way, he’ll know how best to serve the community, he said.
But so far, judging by business, he seems to have found a niche that suits Monroe and the Sky Valley very nicely.
“It’s just old-school cooking,” he said.
Steve’s American Cafe and Grill is located in the Red Barn building at 19721 US. 2, Ste. B. The restaurant opens seven days a week at 7 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m. every day but Sunday, when it closes at 3 p.m. Breakfast is served until 11 a.m. Call (360) 217-8564 for more information, and check out Steve’s American Cafe and Grill on Facebook.