FIRST IMPRESSIONS: City View Cafe
There is no doubt that downtown Fort Wayne is a much more vibrant and exciting area than it was a decade or two ago. We remember back when the only thing that brought us to the center of the city was when the Three Rivers Festival midway was located where Columbia St. meets Calhoun St.
Luckily for all of us, downtown Fort Wayne has grown in entertainment options and restaurant choices. One of the newest is also the highest — City View Cafe in the Indiana Michigan Power Center at 110 E. Wayne St.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: WALKING IN (OR RIDING UP)
Before we walked into City View Cafe on the 13th floor, we took a fun ride up an elevator, listening to other riders talk about issues with the elevators in the building recently. GULP.
For a minute there, it felt like we may end up in a real-life version of the Logan Marshall-Green movie ‘Devil.’ If you don’t know what that is and plan to ever ride an elevator again, you probably shouldn’t look it up.
Thankfully, we arrived at our destination. We were quickly impressed with the floor plan of the eatery, which doubles as a Ceruti’s Catering event center. There are plenty of tables and booths overlooking the north and south of the city partnered up with an a la carte style setup where you can grab your food and drink, place it on your tray and pay the cashier at the front.
Not really knowing what we were walking into, the cafeteria style was surprising. But unlike any high school, college or even workplace cafeteria, this place was clearly set up well with a ton of unique options.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: ATMOSPHERE
Despite the classy, roped-off table at the entrance complete with fine linens, City View Cafe is pretty casual. The views of Fort Wayne are an immediate talking point to whomever you visit with.
Even after our meal, we were able to walk around and look out to see what could be viewed near and far, from the quarry out by Elmhurst High School to the Memorial Coliseum or even right down Main Street. Being able to point out places of interest from high above downtown can make you sound smart or annoying. Hey, you do you.
City View Café also has a wide array of photos on their walls of — what else? — city views. While the front part of the restaurant shows the skylines of various United States cities, the walls in the back (facing the north side of Fort Wayne) are adorned with very cool hybrid photos done by photographer Daniel Baker that blend old black and white photos of Fort Wayne with modern day picstures taken at the exact same location.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: FOOD
What stands out instantly is the number of options available.
Want something light that isn’t going to ruin your appetite? City View Cafe can deliver a wide variety of salads and fruit.
Looking to load on the carbs and skip dinner? From pizza to Panini to a made-to-order burger kiosk, there is plenty to eat and walk out feeling full.
Check out the Fort Wayne burger, which loads on cheese, onion rings and an egg onto a nice piece of cow. We are not sure what makes this worthy to be named after the city, but it’s good. Just prepare to need plenty of napkins.
But the Fort Wayne Burger is just one of nine regular grill menu items that also includes burgers named after New Orleans, San Francisco, Milwaukee and Seattle. There are also the Malibu and San Antonio chicken sandwiches, the vegetarian portabella mushroom sandwich and of course a classic grilled cheese.
Outside of the grill, which is consistently manned, City View Café has seven signature options that change daily. Each day, they will serve a hot entrée, a gourmet salad, an entrée salad, a Panini, a hot sandwich, a cold sandwich and a soup. A different choice every day keeps things fresh with options.
Speaking of fresh, the house salad, potato salad and fruit cup options we took in were all amazingly fresh. No even slightly discolored fruit or veggies, everything was bright, crisp and tasty.
From the panini option, if you can find a day to take in the beef and cheddar option, you should jump on it. With slices of tender roast beef, cheddar cheese, mayo and the right amount of horseradish, we aren’t sure we could ask for a better tasting sandwich, especially from a place where we certainly had no idea what to expect for options. Everything about the sandwich was smooth and didn’t really have much grease, which is a good selling point for a beef panini.
Want to know what their daily specials are before you trek downtown or down the street? City View Café posts their weekly menus on their Facebook page.
An extensive breakfast menu makes this an enticing stop in the morning as well.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: DRINKS
From pop to Gatorade to juice and coffee, City View Cafe has plenty to offer. And not just for us, but for everyone. There is something to enjoy here to be what drinks should be for most meals: a refresher. If you are expecting a day drink session, this isn’t the place for you. But from our previous descriptions, you should know that already.
Hey, you don’t have to serve a variety of alcohols or beers to strike our fancy. Although in most cases, it helps.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: SERVICE
City View Cafe is like a cafeteria in that once you get your food, your interaction with the food service folks ends. The only difference is, the employees are much friendlier than the lunch ladies you remember.
The service folks were cordial and friendly and helped us out with it being our first time visiting. That or we give off the vibe that we may be a tad lacking in the intelligence department.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: PRICE
We were both surprised at the affordability of it all. A custom burger will run you close to $10, particularly if you add a side, but by and large, the ability to pile on the food while not significantly lightening your wallet is a plus.
The Panini option for example also comes with either bag of chips or a side salad included in a simple $6.89 price.
The “grab and go” option of most of the food is a big draw for business people on the move. While we took in the scenery, more people than not stopped in to get their meal to go and didn’t have to take a long wait for a kitchen staff like you do in most sit down restaurants serving lunch downtown.
We both mentioned as we headed back to the office that City View Cafe should be a weekly destination for those who work nearby. No matter what your diet or what you’re craving, City View Cafe can provide it for the same price as any fast food establishment downtown and it is highly likely that it is far more healthy as well.
And yes, that does mean some vegetarian and vegan options.
The picturesque views of our fair city make City View Cafe a unique atmosphere that other Fort Wayne eating establishments closer to sea level cannot hope to match.
First Impressions is a monthly restaurant feature. You can catch Dan and Justin’s opinions on new and recently-opened area eateries each month, rotating on a bi-weekly basis with our Pub Crawl feature. Have a suggestion on where to stop next? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARCHIVE