In a word: The best restaurant we've eaten at in Fort Atkinson!!
JM ate the Reuben and a lemonade. Nichole ate the spinach croissant and a Spotted Cow.
JM and Nichole both gave Cafe Carpe an A- (see our grading rubric).
We were en route to Milwaukee on a Friday night, so it was as good a time as any to take a country drive down Hwy. 12. It was well worth it, too, as JM saw two meteors just after sunset. We made it to Cafe Carpe (said like the fish, not the Latin) on Water St. in downtown Fort Atkinson without a map, for which JM gets some props, and just after 5pm, when they open for dinner. Looking back at the Eats list, we're guessing Isthmus included Cafe Carpe primarily as a music venue. We're glad that it got cross-referenced in the restaurant guide.
Cafe Carpe is a homey place that started as a "listening room" for touring acoustic acts, according to the menu. The back room looks like it seats about 50 and it put Nichole in mind of the perfect venue for someone like Stuart Davis ca. 1998. It was altogether warm and intimate, with the exact same chairs as UWEC's famed (ahem) Cabin. Though it was pretty dead (our fault for passing through at 5 again) the menu recommended reservations for Sunday brunch and warned that pre-show dinner can be hectic. Internet access and board games add to the cafe's attractiveness.
Finally, the food. JM found his Reuben quite good, especially for being served on rye, of a generous size and not too dry. The chips (not his favorite) were, however, generous and too dry. Nichole's warm, feta- and spinach-filled croissant was delicious. The mixed greens in vinaigrette were also above par due to the ripe tomato slices, fresh mushrooms, and shaved parmesan.
Was it worth it? Definitely, especially if you're headed that way or live in the area.