Making a Mean Sandwich

Photo by Rimas Zailskas

Photo by Rimas Zailskas

“Can I have your attention? The first person to name two of the three main actors in Easy Rider wins a free dessert!”

Like a deer in the headlights, all I heard was “dessert,” so I didn’t win the prize. But one lucky guy did last Sunday at Mean Mr. Mustard’s Café in Hendersonville.

I learned later that almost every day, owner Monte Rosemond indulges his vast knowledge of trivia and rewards his customers who know theirs too. Emerging from the kitchen to shout out his question of the day, it adds a moment of great fun and excitement as everyone wracks their brains for the answer…and the dessert!

Hendersonville has been in need of another good breakfast place for some time…one that doesn’t start off with a “Mc” in front of it. The café started off doing just breakfast and baked goods, but now offers lunch as well. “I want to give great value at low prices. We pride ourselves in making sure that all our plates are under ten dollars,” says Monte.

On my Sunday visit, we were able to choose from both a breakfast and lunch menu. Looking for a hearty breakfast, I chose “Eggs Abraham,” a feast of toasted foccacia bread topped with a mashed potato cake, grilled tenderloin and poached egg. I chose tasso gravy over the whole thing, but you can have sausage gravy instead. The steak was fork tender and delicious, and it was a unique brunch offering that was very satisfying. My husband chose the open faced Reuben, which showed up as two thick slices of light rye with lots of corned beef, sauerkraut and melted cheese. He happily ate every bite.

Service at Mr. Mustards is warm, friendly and “tag team” style; our table got attention from both servers and co-owner Diane, which is a wonderful way of making sure that we had everything we needed. Looking around at the other tables, I saw a marvelous looking omelet go by, as well as a salad with fresh micro greens that looked enticing as well. Tables are set closely together and many diners were carrying on conversations between tables. I overheard one fellow say, “I’ve been here four times and always had a great meal.”

Funny name, though…where did it come from? In February, 1964, eight year old Monte watched the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show. “I knew something had happened inside of me,” he says.

A fan ever since, Monte envisioned the café not as a theme restaurant, but as a “tribute to genius.” He named the café after a song of the same title that appeared on the Beatles’ Abbey Road album. There are fun glimpses of Beatle references on the menu such as “Fresh Lennonade” and the Imagine Cookie (which, by the way, is a fabulous oatmeal, toasted nut and chocolate chip treat!). With warm gold walls and artwork by local painter Adonna Schroer, the ambiance is eclectic and inviting.

While Monte and head chef Brian McKinney bake the breads, Diane Rosemond is the creative force behind the muffins and desserts. We tried an oversized pear muffin that was moist and flavorful and topped with turbinado sugar, which gave it a wonderful finish. Muffin flavors change constantly as do the other dessert choices. Her personal favorite is a triple layer ganache cake.

Monte has been cooking for most of his adult life and remembers his father, who was a country club manager, as being the impetus for his career path. “I was about six years old when I decided that I wanted to serve people. And the best way is through food.” Using fresh, local fruits and vegetables, Monte and Brian brainstorm every day about the specials they offer in addition to the regular menu.

“We hoped that by providing good food and service, Hendersonville would come,” says Monte. From the looks of the line out the door many mornings, he’s singing the right tune.

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