Located just off of the town square in Monticello, The Brown Bag restaurant offers an eclectic and varied mix of deli sandwiches, salads, homemade soups, and desserts from a local shop, Pies by Inges.
Clearly a local favorite, the restaurant had a steady line of customers ordering, providing dine-in and carry-out options to the crowd. The size of the space is deceptively small. Walking in, we assumed that it could only hold about 20 to 30 seated guests. Once we were in, and ordered, we realized they also had the space directly to the right, with plenty of seating to handle a busy crowd.
My husband ordered the honey turkey club ($6.95) with a cup of broccoli cheddar soup ($3.95), because “you can never turn down homemade broccoli cheddar soup.” It took him several minutes to pick an option because the deli sandwich selection is vast, truly providing something for anyone (including customized options). The sandwich was jam packed with savory turkey, crispy bacon, and Colby jack cheese on lightly toasted white bread. The soup was thick and tasty, with an even balance of cheese to veggie. He added it as a top two contender for best cheddar broccoli soup ever.
There were several vegetarian options to choose from (veggie and egg salad sandwiches, salads, and a few items on their southwest menu). To satisfy my love of all things cheese, I ordered the veggie 2 ($6.95) with the deluxe garden salad ($4.95) on the side. A buttery, flaky croissant is wrapped around herbed cream cheese with Colby jack, swiss cheese, tomatoes, sprouts, and cucumbers. I swore I wasn’t going to be able to finish the sandwich…until I got to the last bite. The cream cheese had a perfect spread and the other cheeses and fresh veggies were well-balanced. The salad was crisp, veggie-packed, and lightened up the carb-heavy meal.
While waiting in line, you stand directly next a dessert display case filled with pies and lined on top with cookies and dessert bars. Pies by Inge is a locally-owned shop that makes all of their fillings, crusts, and goods from scratch. You cannot resist the case, and we added a slice of blueberry crumble pie ($3.25) and a slice of coconut oatmeal pie ($3.25) to our lunch order. Trading bites of pie, the blueberry crumble tasted like the type of pie, “where somebody knew exactly how many blueberries should go into a pie.” The cinnamon crumble and sweet, tart blueberry filling left my husband scraping the plate for any tiny remnant. The toasted coconut covered a filling that felt like the perfect introduction to fall, rich and spiced. The pie was so good, we immediately started planning all of the reasons we would need full pies in our life over the next year: birthdays, holidays, Tuesdays.
Although the lines got long at times, the service moved quickly. There was a constant stream of satisfied customers coming and going as we spent time inside of the fast-casual restaurant’s main dining area. While families with young children ate quickly and left, several couples lingered, enjoying the pie, coffee, and conversation. It was a busy place, but the unique shape of the space keeps noise from crowding into your meal.
The staff was friendly and patient as we took our sweet time looking at the menu (no worries, we didn’t make the line wait!). A few serious contenders before settling included: homemade chili ($3.95), the club sub ($6.95) loaded with Bavarian baked ham, turkey, crisp bacon, and swiss cheese, the stuffed avocado ($5.95), or super nachos ($7.95).
The Brown Bag offers bagged potato chips, French fries, cole slaw, potato salad, side salads and fruit salad as separate sides. Coffee, bagels, and an assortment of baked goods (including the pie) are available in the mornings. Lunch service begins at 11 a.m. They have a daily specials menu, gluten free breads, and a small southwest style menu, including the Mexican club sandwich: fresh baked turkey and crisp bacon stuffed with dressing, cheese, and veggies in a flour tortilla. We’ll save that for next time.
The Brown Bag
212 W Washington St
M-Th 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
F 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sa 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Photos by Jordan Goebig