Double slow-cooked roast beef keeps customers returning

Pantry Cafe and Catering

Address:217 6th Ave., Madison, MN

Hours:5 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday; 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Saturday; closed Sundays.

Known for: Roast beef commercials and dinners. The roast is slow cooked, trimmed and sliced and then, it's cooked again in its own au jus. The result is tender, flavorful roast beef.

They also do catering within a 60-mile area of the cafe.


Call them at:320-598-3377

Madison, Minn. — Randy and Jodi Arends have a way with food.

Their use of seasonings and culinary skills yields tasty fare at their Pantry Cafe and Catering restaurant in Madison.

The succulent double slow-cooked roast beef in au jus, meat loaf meal served with homemade gravy and buttermilk pancakes made with buttermilk and secret ingredients are all customer favorites that has them returning for more.

Some of the recipes are ones they've developed. Randy and some of his high school aged staff worked on ingredients for an omelet on Saturday mornings. They developed such a tasty meal Randy added the Randy Omelet to the menu. Sausage, Swiss and American cheese and hashbrowns are wrapped in a four-egg omelet. It's a favorite of truck drivers and the local police for an early morning fare.

Other recipes are long time staples. The buttermilk pancake recipe came with the restaurant, he said. The pancakes, about a quarter-inch thick, are the size of a platter. That's about 14 inches, Jodi said. Small rounds are also available. They measure roughly eight inches. It's featured on the Wednesday special, which includes a large cake and sausage patty for $4.60.

Meatloaf is the special on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It's made from scratch and topped with a homemade gravy that's Jodi's specialty.

The roast beef, served as a dinner or beef commercial, is double slow roasted. After the roast is slow cooked once, Randy trims and slices it, puts it in a slow cooker a second time and tops it with an au jus. The result is a flavorful, moist meal.


Jodi's father, Bill, prepared his own signature sandwich, which remains on the menu. It's a meal in itself, Randy said. Surrounded by a bun, the sandwich includes two slices of ham with cheese.

And it's not just the good food that brings customers back to the hometown restaurant. The cafe is a pleasant, welcoming spot with friendly wait staff and a homey atmosphere.

The building is a century old and has always housed a restaurant, Randy said. For the past 35 years, it's been owned by family. Jodi's parents, Bill and Delores, operated the cafe for 15 years when Randy and Jodi took over.

Very little can stop the couple from opening the business six days a week. Even during some of the harsh winter blasts that have passed through the region, Randy took the sled from the couple's rural Madison home to the cafe.

And to top off the meal, try one of the Jodi's homemade desserts. She makes the meringue pies herself, using her mom's favorite meringue recipe, plus the cream fillings for pies. Randy makes the cookies, cakes and bars from scratch.

They also offer catering services within a 60 mile area of Madison, they said.

— Carol Stender


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