the bottom of the Center Café’s menu in fine
print it says, “ The use of cellular telephones in
the dining room interferes with the kitchen’s ability
to properly prepare risotto.” This is in keeping
with the philosophy of Zee and Paul McCarroll, the chef/owners.
They want dining out to be a relaxed, pleasant experience with service
by caring staff, and food made from scratch using the finest ingredients.
The McCarroll’s use sustainable industry food sources as much
as possible, grow their own herbs and buy fresh produce from the local
farmers. They like to consider their patrons guests rather than customers.
Zee and Paul met at a culinary school in Portland, Oregon in 1990.
They have complimentary tastes and goals and have gone from working
for others at Pack Creek, Eddie Mc Stiff’s, and Dos Amigos to
now owning the Center Café. The original Center Café was
on Center Street. But in August 2001, they moved into their new, larger
home at 60 N. 100 West Street. Now there is outdoor dining, fireplaces,
and a warm first class atmosphere with plenty of room.
Center Café has several outstanding offerings. The main dining
room and outdoor patio have two types of menus from which guests can
choose. The “globally inspired” main menu features favorite
standbys such as Pan Roasted Lamb Loin with roasted garlic flan, balsamic
port wine reduction or Lumpmeat Crab Cakes with tomato coulis, citrus
crème fraiche. A soup du jour and interesting salads are available.
Other menu items include a fish, steak, or pork dish presented in a
very special way. And, of course, the Fresh Chanterelle Mushroom Risotto
(for which the phone must not ring.)
For those wanting something a bit simpler, the Center Café has
a “Bistro Menu.” The word “bistro” or “quick” may
have originated with the Russian Cossacks who occupied Paris in 1815.
The Center Café’s Bistro Menu is shaped in the “spirit
of Spanish Tapas, Greek Mezze and Italian Antipasto.”
menu offers a changing selection of dishes to share with your table
or to take out. Here you can find items such as Zee’s Mom’s
Meatloaf; Steamed Clams, or Ginger Chicken Wontons.
As you would expect in a place of fine dining, the dessert menu is
also intriguing. Imagine these delights: a Pick Me Up Platter of tiramisu,
espresso pot du crème, and chocolate mousse in chocolate-hazelnut
cup or Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee, or Huckleberry and Peach Crostada
with buttermilk ice cream. And if that’s not enough, you can
try homemade sorbet, chocolate moulton cake, or cheese and fruit.
The Center Café has a small market section which opens at 3
pm. Here you can find gourmet cheeses from around the world, olives,
oils, and homemade breads – the makings of a great evening picnic.
All meals, large or small, can be accompanied by a selection of fine
wines by the bottle or glass. The Café is situated on an old
homestead property, and a root cellar under the small house in back
serves as part of the wine cellar.
OF THE MONTH
Squash & Apple Soup
Serves 12 (may be halved)
1 # Bacon diced
2 Shallots diced
2 Onions diced
15 # Butternut squash
1 # Butter
2 C Brown Sugar
10 Apples, peeled and sliced
2 oz. Butter
16 oz Maple Syrup
1 qt. Chicken Stock - heated
1 qt. Heavy Cream + ½ gal milk
½ C Worcestershire Sauce
½ C Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste
Tabasco Sauce to taste
large sauté pan,
render fat from bacon: add onions, shallots and
cook until soft; reserve. On sheet pan with parchment
paper, pour mix of 1 # butter melted and 2 C brown
sugar onto split open and cleaned squash. Roast
until tender. Saute apples in 2 oz butter until
golden brown; Cook 2 -3 min. longer. Place squash,
apples, onions, bacon, chicken stock, cream, and
milk into a large stockpot. Stir well under low
heat. Add Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard
and seasonings, along with Tabasco. In small batches,
puree in blender until smooth, finish with Tabasco
infused crème fraiche.
The Center Café is
presently serving dinner only, but Zee and Paul plan to
stay open during the winter, except for a small break around
Christmastime. They will serve both lunch and dinner Tuesday
through Saturday. As Zee says, “Many tourists come
through Moab going from Arizona to the ski resorts of Colorado
and Utah. They want first class dining.” Another
motive for the winter opening is to encourage locals to
come in for lunch or dinner on cold wintry days, to get
some delicious soup, and to visit with friends in front
of a roaring fire. The warm wood décor lends itself
to a cozy feel. Zee will make her favorite winter-warmer,
chicken and dumplings and other comfort foods.
The Center Café is happy to be part of the Moab Community. It
was the mountain biking and the scenery that brought Zee and Paul to
Moab in the early ‘90’s. They support many local events,
host artists’ photos and painting on their walls, and feature
live musicians. Currently, the photos of Cliff Crutchfield adorn the
walls, and the easy listening jazz guitar and sax of Carl and Gen are
featured. In September the Center Café sponsored a well-attended
Cajun Night. The proceeds went to help the Katrina hurricane survivors.
October evenings and beyond will be a great time to dine in comfort
and style while Zee and Paul McCarroll create their often changing
menus of delicious meals.
The Center Café is located at 60 North 100 West and opens nightly
at 5:30pm. (Seasonal hours will change in November.) They may be reached