Kerry’s Cafe: A dash of rich history, sprinkled with a passion for cooking

Kerry Fagan likes to cook and she loves to create. Her recipes at Kerry’s Cafe pull together decades of family knowledge from her Irish, German, Russian and Ukrainian heritage. She sprinkles in a bit of her passion for Italian, Mediterranean and vegetarian cooking and creates a completely unique menu.

“There’s a secret ingredient in everything I cook: Love,” Fagan said. “I just can’t stop cooking, even when I get home from here I still cook.”

Fagen spends 12 to 15 hours each day cooking. The time she spends on her preparation and cooking comes through in the taste of her food. Herbs are grown in her own garden. Stocks are made from chickens and fresh vegetables. She doesn’t use processed ingredients or cut corners, everything is made from scratch.

“I buy all of my produce from the farmers market,” Fagan said. “My dishes change because they depend on what produce is available.”

Because she cooks everything from scratch, Fagan is easily able to provide dishes for special diets such as low sodium, vegan and vegetarian diets. The dishes are filled with flavor because everything in them is fresh.

“Many recipes, like my Ba Ba’s pierogi recipe, are only know by three of us in my family,” Fagan said. “The recipes are a legacy, passed down from family.”

Her goal is to offer good, homemade food and to make her customers happy. This is the force behind her newest endeavor, Twilight Dinners at Kerry’s Cafe on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 4 to 7 p.m.

These are simple dinners such as jumbo lump crab cake, stuffed cabbage, or blackened tilapia served with a soup or a salad for $9.99. The dinners can be enjoyed in the cafe, or Fagen will wrap them up and send them home for patrons who want to dine in the comfort of their own homes.

“This is great for single people,” Fagan said. “They can let me know if they want the dinners hot or if they want to eat them later.”

Fagen is extremely accommodating to her customers who can call ahead to see what is on the menu for that week and make special requests, such as low sodium dishes, while they are on the phone.

On the day to day menu, the cafe offers a variety of everything. Breakfast starts at 10 a.m. with specialty omelets, eggs, bacon, waffles, french toast and a wide range of pastries. On the regular menu patrons will find grilled wraps for $6.99 such as chicken salad, BLT and greek. There are house specialities like the Cuban with slow, roasted pork, the bang bang chicken, or Poppy’s Club with ham, turkey, bacon, swiss, lettuce, tomatoes and mayo on white toast for $7.99. Many enjoy the fresh, large helping of lobster salad (this is large chunks of real lobster) on a croissant for $12.99. When it comes to hot dogs, everything goes, from coney island, to Chicago, or create your own. There are also a variety of salads ($7.99) and quesadillas ($5.99).

“Dinner is available at lunch time, or if they want breakfast for lunch, or lunch for breakfast,” Fagan said. “I do run out of things, so some dishes are here for a certain amount of time and then when they are gone we move on to something else.”

The daily vegan and vegetarian menu would probably sound good even the most carnivorous soul out there. It offers dishes such as the stuff pepper with a filling of black beans, brown rice, corn, tomato, onions, hot peppers, cilantro and garlic. There is a green goddess wrap, falafel, tabbouleh salad and the Chicago-style smart dog that are vegan and vegetarian. Or vegetarians that aren’t vegan may enjoy the pierogies, stuffed with potatoes, and cheese sauteed with onions.

“I was a vegetarian for years so that is when I learned a lot about Mediterranean food,” Fagan said. “Or I pick up recipes from friends. They make it and then I go home and try to put my own little kick to it.”

Kerry’s also offers a variety of homemade soups (they sell out of pasta fagioli as soon as it’s made), fresh fruit smoothies and new dishes every week. The restaurant has a full catering menu ranging from antipasto kabobs to pork platters.

Kerry’s Cafe is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Wednesday, and is open until 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. The cafe is located at 121 South Barfield Drive in the Shops of Marco. Information: 394-4696.

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