by Lloyd Frazier
I have to tell you about a place we experienced last night. I am giving a big shout out to the Castle Cafe in Castle Rock, Colorado. If you are ever in the Denver area, and you want to experience a chicken dinner that reminds you what Grandma used to make, then this is definitely the place.
We took my mother out to celebrate her 79th birthday. She wanted seafood, as always, but some of the family thought it would be nice to try out something different and authentic for a change. We all agreed on some kind of Americana dish….like good ‘ol fried chicken. I googled up chicken restaurants in our vicinity and Castle Cafe came up. Their website was pretty plain, but had an interesting story.
Here is the story, directly from their web page:
“The Castle Hotel and Bar was the gathering place for quarry workers, ranchers and travelers during the 1890’s. In those days, the bar was one of the wildest in the area. Although reports of shootouts were not confirmed, brawls were so common that Douglas County was forced to hire an extra deputy to patrol on paydays. The Deputy was also responsible for restraining inebriated cowboys from riding their horses through the bar.
Around 1910, The Castle Hotel and Cafe became the stopover for travelers between Denver and Colorado Springs. A dance hall was built over the bar and served as a community center during the roaring 20’s, depressing 30’s and early 40’s. Throughout the years, The Castle Cafe and Lounge has remained the geographical and social heart of the Castle Rock area.???
Castle Cafe touts ‘World famous pan-fried chicken’ on their website, so we were all in for checking it out. A lot of the reviews were favorable, so we all thought ‘what the heck’ and hopped in the car and headed down to Castle Rock to have an old fashioned home-style dinner. Castle Rock is about 20-30 minutes south of downtown Denver, right off of I-25.
We arrived around 5:30-ish and there was about a 30 min wait at that time. The temperature was hovering in the low 70’s and was quite pleasant for waiting outside. There were some benches for sitting, right on the sidewalk, across from their entrance. The Castle Cafe is in the heart of Castle Rock. Most of the buildings along the main street were reconditioned and kept in their original form. The building that Castle Cafe occupied was an old Saloon. Soon enough, it was our time to be seated, and the receptionist came out the door and escorted us to our table. Our table was a booth that can easily sit three abreast on each side, so the five of us were quite comfortable. The ambiance of the place was of old western flair. Our waitress showed up and got us started with beverages. She was very friendly and obviously enjoyed her work. We all decided to order the Pan-fried Chicken dinner served family style which meant everything came on platters and in bowls. It felt like we were at home sitting around the table enjoying a family dinner. We started out with a salad which was served separately on plates. They had the usual salad dressing choices. It was a good sized salad. They serve home made dinner rolls fresh from the oven and they kept coming as long as we asked for more…and boy, did we want more. Those rolls were heaven sent. They were hot, fluffy and delicious with butter slathered all over them. Just a word of warning, any diet regimen goes right out the door once you get a whiff of the place! All you care about is eating…and eating…well, you get the picture. Next came the platter of chicken, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, and the best damned lip-smacking gravy you will ever shovel in your pie hole. For the five of us, we got twenty pieces of chicken. Now, these were not your typical Kentucky Fried Chicken sized pieces. These were large, generous pieces of chicken that had the most delicate, crunchy texture that encouraged you to grab for another after finishing each piece. After we all had our fill, there was still eight pieces of chicken, a serving of potatoes, gravy, veggies and dinner rolls left over to take home and enjoy the next day…that is, if you can resist raiding the fridge in the middle of the night. Bottom line, if you are ever in the Castle Rock area and you love a good home style chicken dinner, you owe it to yourself to head on over to the Castle Cafe and fill er’ up! The price is very reasonable for the amount of food you get. Visit their website at castlecafe.com for directions and menu. You will not regret it, I promise you that. We have already decided we are going there for the next birthday in the family. Hmmm, I’m hungry, wonder if there is any leftover chicken still in the fridge .