Social Networks
Twitter Facebook

Cozy comfort food

Patrons feel right at home at Cindy’s House


Dining in the cozy, inviting atmosphere at Cindy’s House Café and Catering in the heart of downtown Cary is similar to dining at home, without having to do any of the work.


“This place tends to be a hub of community activity,” says Gayla Bonke, chef and managing partner.


“Whether it’s an art class, book club, baby shower or gathering of friends, people like to meet here.”


Since purchasing the restaurant last year, Bonke has extended its hours, changed the menu and added a catering division.


Local fare

Open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunches, Cindy’s House offers a delightfully varied menu, with creative entreés and specials that include gluten-free and vegetarian items. From classic Carolina shrimp and grits to roasted vegetable quesadillas, ham and prosciutto bruschetta, and Bourbon pecan chicken, the menu offers enough variety to appeal to all tastes.


The restaurant’s dressings, soups, desserts, salads and entreés are made using fresh, locally grown ingredients. Eggs come from Latta’s Egg Ranch in Hillsborough, goat cheeses from Celebrity Dairy in Siler City, fresh produce from Blue Sky Farms in Wendell, coffee from Muddy Dog Roasting Co. in Morrisville, and grits from Carolina Grits & Co.


Most portions at Cindy’s House are large enough to share, leaving room for one of the desserts Bonke makes fresh daily, from chocolate mousse pie to coconut cake. She also makes desserts to order for special occasions.


 “We’ve worked hard to put together a menu with exciting new eclectic American cuisine,” Bonke says.


“Our professional service staff is ready to show Triangle diners the true meaning of Southern hospitality.”


Local art, music

The restaurant also features live music beginning at 6:30 p.m. every Friday. Acts include local artists such as renowned saxophonist Charlie Elliott, as well as the No Worries Band, Elder Brother and local guitar instructor Tom Yoder.


Replaced every 60 days, the artwork displayed on the restaurant’s walls is for sale by local artists and can be a mix of anything from photography and watercolors to sculpture and hand-painted dishware. An art class also meets there each Tuesday night.


Cindy’s House Café holds up to 75 guests and is available for special events, receptions, holiday parties and meetings as well. 


Bonke and her staff also provide customized, full-service catering services to meet each client’s needs. 




Mushroom, Jarlsberg and Parsley Salad

(yields six servings)


1 pound button mushrooms, thinly sliced

1/4-pound Jarlsberg cheese, shredded

1/2-cup flat-leaf or curly parsley, minced

Lemon vinaigrette dressing


Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp cloth; avoid soaking or rinsing them directly. Slice thinly and toss the cheese and parsley together with the mushrooms and vinaigrette (see recipe below) in a bowl. Pile the salad on a plate lined with lettuce leaf and garnish with a twisted lemon wheel. Add fresh bread and butter for a complete meal.


For the Lemon Vinaigrette:

1/4-cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

3/4-cup olive oil

1/2-teaspoon salt

1/2-teaspoon pepper

Lemon slices and red leaf or Bibb lettuce leaves for garnish


Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Toss the salad mix with the dressing for a few minutes before the dish will be served in order for the mushrooms to maintain color and freshness.


Barley Corn Salad

(yields eight servings)


1 pound pearl barley, cooked according to package directions

2 cups fresh-cooked corn cut off the cob or thawed frozen corn kernels

1 large jalapeno pepper, minced

2 large tomatoes, diced and seeded

1 bunch green scallions

1/2-cup cilantro, chopped

Garlic vinaigrette


In a large bowl, mix the barley, corn, jalapeno, tomatoes, scallions and cilantro. Toss with garlic vinaigrette (see recipe below).


For the Garlic Vinaigrette:

2/3-cup canola oil

1/3-cup rice vinegar
5 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper


Simmer garlic in some water in a small pan on the stove until just softened through. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade, chop garlic, cumin, salt and pepper, and add rice vinegar. Slowly drizzle in the oil to allow the dressing to thicken. Toss dressing on the barley mixture and serve immediately, or chill for up to 24 hours with tightly wrapped plastic.


Orzo Pasta Salad

(yields eight to 10 servings)

1 pound orzo pasta

1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

8 ounces crumbled feta cheese

1/3-cup olive oil

1/2-cup parsley or cilantro, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste


Bring a stockpot filled with salted water to a rolling boil, add orzo and cook until almost done, or approximately eight minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl.


Add sun-dried tomatoes, crumbled feta, chopped parsley or cilantro, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Toss and serve, or cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Set salad out for a few minutes prior to serving to take the chill off (this salad also is ideal at room temperature). To make it a heartier main course, add roasted chicken or cooked shrimp.



If you go

Cindy’s House Café is located at 140 E. Chatham St. in downtown Cary. The restaurant is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and for dinner from 6-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday. Brunch is served from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. To learn more, call (919) 380-1193 or visit