Peggy’s Caf and Catering is a slightly trendy place with neo-Victorian wood trim and crumbling brick, located a convenient few blocks away from campus. It’s also a restaurant that was on College Avenue when there was still a mall to speak of, not to mention a place to purchase cigarettes and magazines.
Although a lot has changed along the Ave, and there are now numerous slightly trendy places with neo-Victorian wood trim and crumbling brick popping up, I ventured to Peggy’s one night to discover the secret of its appeal and staying power. (I’ll give you a hint: it’s not in the friendliness of its wait staff.)
Simultaneously a full-service caf and restaurant, Peggy’s is situated in a long, narrow space that supports a visually appealing bar, a colorful drink menu, and a series of mismatched wooden tables and chairs that a good friend of mine would characterize with a hint of sarcasm as “shabby chic.”
Lighting, especially in the evenings, can be a little dim, but that may be a good thing if you feel compelled to look at the framed pastel figure drawings for sale on the walls, which are enough to make Da Vinci himself shed a little tear.
The seating is prompt, as is the service, although I gathered that a friendly waitress who acted like she wanted a tip may have been asking too much.
Peggy’s menu touts a variety of soups, salads, and main dishes, but due to the hefty prices (this is small-town nowhere Wisconsin, after all), and my own personal allegiance to all things chocolate, I opted for a warm drink and artery-cloggingly delicious dessert, of which they offer several.
I ordered the flourless chocolate cake and a nightcap of steamed vanilla honey milk. The latter was delivered promptly to my table with a cute little honey design swirled onto the top layer of the foamed milk. The flourless chocolate cake came a few minutes later in all its gooey glory.
The honey milk tasted smooth and was delicately laced with the harmoniously intertwined vanilla and honey flavors. The flourless chocolate cake tasted like an insanely fudgy brownie, not too sweet, and well flavored, though pleasurably impossible to scrape off my silverware.
The honey milk/chocolate cake combo was too rich for my taste (and something I readily admit I did to myself of my own volition). I would suggest either one with a lighter complement; i.e., the honey milk with a light cake or the flourless chocolate wedge of heaven with a good coffee.
All in all, the food was a pleasurable experience and although my waitress didn’t want to be my friend or to take my money, I left Peggy’s relatively sure that their combination of good comfort food and high prices has something to do with their presence on a street that has been a death sentence for small businesses in the past.