17 State Street Cafe
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This is the kind of restaurant we like to call a triple threat. A place that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and does a fantastic job with all three. And despite its rather plain name, there's nothing ordinary about 17 State Street Cafe.
Located in downtown Newburyport, 17 State Street Cafe is housed inside an historic old building that was a cigar shop and newsstand for decades. And while the only reading material here these days is the menu, just about everything else remains the same.
Cathy Moulton - Owner, 17 State Street Cafe: "This is all original. The tile and the paneling, the booths, they've been here forever. There's so much history here."
And owner Cathy Moulton is part of that history. Cathy grew up on Plum Island, went to Newburyport High School, and her parents and grandparents both owned businesses in town. So for her, opening this place was a natural fit.
Cathy Moulton - Owner, 17 State Street Cafe: "I'm rooted here, so when I was offered the opportunity to come to this location, it felt like I was coming home."
And good home style cooking is what this place is all about.
Cathy Moulton - Owner, 17 State Street Cafe: “Basic but a lot of good flavors. Made from scratch. I use quality products. Comfort foods with a twist."
At breakfast, plenty of dishes have a creative spin, or should we say swirl. Like the Cinnamon Swirl Pancakes, which are part pancake, part cinnamon bun.
Cathy Moulton - Owner, 17 State Street Cafe: "I make a concoction of cinnamon, brown sugar, butter, dribble it onto the pancake like a swirl. The pancake flips to cook on the other side, and all of those flavors caramelize, and it just makes it sweet and crunchy. We drizzle it with some icing, and you just look at it and it's like 'oh my god, I just want to get into that.'"
For a manly meal, Cathy recommends something called 'Dave's Hot Mess Homefries'; a big bowl of breakfast potatoes topped with peppers, onions, bacon, and melted cheese.
Cathy Moulton - Owner, 17 State Street Cafe: "The guys love it, it's a meal, and it looks great, it tastes great. I wouldn't eat it, it's too much food for me."
But no matter what you order, you definitely need to leave room for 17 State Street's big beautiful English Muffins. They're made from scratch, and nothing like what you find at the supermarket.
Cathy Moulton - Owner, 17 State Street Cafe: "You're rolling out the dough, you have to shrink the dough, and you cut it and it rests, and then it comes down stairs here and goes onto the flat top, and is cooked on the flat top, and this is real food. A real English Muffin."
They're great on their own, and even better as the base for an excellent egg sandwich.
Cathy Moulton - Owner, 17 State Street Cafe: "It's layered with the fried egg, and then you've got a nice grilled tomato on top of it, and you've got cheese that's gooey. We have that nice thick bacon and then you've got this fresh homemade English Muffin that has some substance to it. It's something nice to bite into."
Lunch here is all about burgers, and since the place is named 17 State Street Cafe, Cathy came up with a menu of 17 specialty burgers, all made with fresh, never frozen, half pound angus patties.
Cathy Moulton - Owner, 17 State Street Cafe: "To me this is an old fashioned burger that we used to get as kids. It's not a McDonald's burger, it's not these four ounce patties that you get. It's a meal."
Of all the options, the one that really stands out is this beefy behemoth named The Ooey Gooey.
Cathy Moulton - Owner, 17 State Street Cafe: "You want to talk about The Ooey Gooey? That is two eight ounce patties with three different cheese, with the bacon, with the honey jalapeno barbecue sauce, and caramelized onions. It's a lot."
And true to its name, this burger is very messy, but totally worth it.
Cathy Moulton - Owner, 17 State Street Cafe: "It's gooey, and then you've got that barbecue sauce, and that just runs, and it's messy, it's messy. You're not gonna do it with a knife and a fork. It's everything a burger should be."
During the day, 17 State Street showcases all kinds of comfort food favorites, but at dinner, Cathy turns the kitchen over to Chef Kip Dixon, who serves up dishes with the classic Southern flavors he was raised on.
Kip Dixon - Chef, 17 State Street Cafe: "I grew up on the Bayou down in Mobile Alabama, and that's where it all started. The food that I do is based on 100 year old recipes, you know, traditional, very traditional things."
So there are Crab and Crawfish Cakes, Slow cooked pork ribs, and real deal Gumbo made with whatever's fresh.
Kip Dixon - Chef, 17 State Street Cafe: "Back in New Orleans it would be whatever the neighbors had, they'd bring it over and it would be like a one pot meal, you know. And it's got a little kick to it, a little Andouille sausage, a little shrimp maybe, chicken this week, maybe oysters in the next one."
But of all the Southern staples here, nothing beats Kip's Fried Chicken. Served with braised collard greens, buttermilk mashed potatoes, and a Tasso ham gravy, it's a dish Cathy craves.
Cathy Moulton - Owner, 17 State Street Cafe: "I like a good Southern fried chicken, I won't order it just anywhere. His is light, fresh, it is moist, it's crisp, it's an incredible flavor."
If you've got any room left for dessert, there are Southern sweets there too, as well as one Yankee classic. From the South, decadent Vanilla Bread Pudding topped with a Jack Daniels praline sauce. From the North, warm Indian Pudding made from recipe that been in Cathy's family for generations.
Cathy Moulton - Owner, 17 State Street Cafe: "It's an old fashioned New England dessert."
There's a lot that's old fashioned about this restaurant, from the care that goes into the cooking to the neighborly vibe in the dining room. And for Cathy and her loyal customers, it just feels like home.
Rocco Coviello - Eats Here Every Day: "Great place to still get local food, cooked by local people, with local owners, and make you wanting to come back."
Cathy Moulton - Owner, 17 State Street Cafe: "I grew up here, I know people here. There's a thread here for me. I belong here."