I had driven by the place numerous times and always noticed the small parking lot full of cars. I also had checked it out on the web and found some very positive comments about the Colbert Coffee Shop & Café in beautiful downtown Colbert, Oklahoma, so I decided it was time for a review.

After picking up an assistant taster, we arrived just before noon to find the waitress cleaning off the one empty table in the room. We had a seat and looked over the menu card and the specials written on a board on the wall. The choices were a solid list of down home offerings, with chicken fried steak, meatloaf and catfish leading the lunch time specials. The cafe also has sandwiches, burgers and breakfast served all day long. I went with meatloaf, pinto beans, mashed potatoes and greens. My friend had chicken fried steak, potatoes, greens and a salad.

The salad at a typical meat-and-three is usually a perfunctory affair with some wilted iceberg lettuce and sliver of tomato, but the salad that came to our table was at least a step or two above that. It had shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and a sprinkle of cheese on top, with a basket of Captain’s Wafer crackers. Pretty up town for downtown Colbert, I would say.

While we waited, I watched other diners’ plates appear in the kitchen’s service window for delivery to the tables and noticed a considerable number of those plates bore good sized pieces of golden brown catfish. The fish looked tempting, but I had ordered meatloaf, and meatloaf it would be.

I was not disappointed. My plate had three comfortable slices of meatloaf with ketchup glaze, a scoop of potatoes, a bowl of pintos and a big helping of greens. It all looked good, and it was. The meatloaf was tender and juicy, the vegetables hot and tasty. My friend left none of his greens on the plate, and the chicken fried steak and potatoes were all gone as well when he finished. All that was missing was a piece of cornbread and a slice of pie for dessert.

One of the things I like about doing the restaurant reviews is going out on the scout for those off-the-grid places that turn out to be real gems. Based on one visit, I would put the Colbert Coffee Shop & Café on that list. Their fare is basic stuff, but it is done well and offered at a comfortable price. It’s a classic meat-and-three establishment, and those are getting harder to find.

What do you think of the food at the Colbert Coffee Shop & Café? Send suggestions and ideas to sparkes@heralddemocrat.com or visit http://www.facebook.com/HDRestaurantReviewer.