I'd heard mixed reviews about The Vault Cafe, so when we were considering where we might have lunch we decided to give it a try.
First off, the food, which was delightful. My husband, the chef, had the eggs benidict which he found excellent. I had the omlete with all the vegetables offered, and was surprised at the condition of the eggs. Too often I've had an omlete in a breakfast restaurant and the egg has been woefully overcooked, rubbery or dry. My only disappointment was that it was too much for me to consume, so I shared with my husband who was also impressed.
We dined just before the lunch rush which was pouring in as we were leaving after quizzing the restaurant owner about the building, which he does not own, but by the looks of the numbers coming in, I'd say the locals are happy with the establishment.
The building is an ongoing restoration project, begun by a company in Chicago. I found that a little odd, since Chicago, not actually the center of the universe OR Illinois, is about 6 hours away if traffic is with you. We learned talking to the owner of the restaurant, that the company crew had spent about 2 1/5 years living in Marion while they accomplished the first floor restoration. If you're an architecture buff, it is interesting to hear about the dreadful destruction of the original lobby, much of it's marble and copper harvested by a previous owner, and the incredible journey to bring it back as far as it's come.
As you enter the foyer, to the right through double glass doors, is the elevator and stairway, to the right, an antique shoe shine station, an homage to the barber shop that had for a time been housed in that part of the lobby. Straight ahead, through a second set of double doors is the cafe.
The decor is sparse but not uncomfortable. We did peek into the vault, which has two tables with theoretical accomodations for 8. As a claustrophobic, this wouldn't be my first choice, nor, my second, but it has potential, for other diners.
The main dining room is the classic bank lobby, a large open room with sturdy pillars. The vault sits open at the back of the room. The windows span floor to ceiling in keeping with the age and style of the building, allowing natural lighting and a view of the square and the art gallery across the street.
The building has 5 floors, and the long term plan is to finish the second and third as offices and the top two as apartments, but this is a ways off. The building sat vacant for many years and the damaged roof allowed massive water damage down to the second floor. The elevator is the classic cage style and is surrounded by stairs to the top floor. We went to the mezzenine on which they have a dining/meeting room that overlooks the main dining room, the second floor is not open to the public.
Just as a afterthought, a few reviews down you will find an example of excellent writing, and a clear opinion, but, I think in one point, inaccurate logic. A cafe, in the traditional American sense is defined as a small restaurant selling light meals and drinks; The Vault Cafe is precisely that. Because you expect your past experience to dictate your future experiences, it seems wrong to penalize the future host because they don't know what you expect when you walk in their door.
We enjoyed our meal and conversation and expect to return soon. Next time I want one of the Belgium waffles that I saw on another table. Oh my!
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